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NSTDA and AIT sign landmark agreement, to create technology and knowledge hub

AIT and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) have signed a landmark agreement to cooperate in the field of research and education, and work towards creating a premier technology and knowledge hub in Thailand. An agreement signed by the two organizations on 29 June 2016 provides for 11 NSTDA experts and researchers to work at AIT as Special Adjunct Faculty members, while AIT gets access to NSTDA research facilities.

NSTDA and AIT sign landmark agreement, to create technology and knowledge hub

From left: Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakool,H.E. Prof. Yongyuth Yuthavong, H.E. Dr. Subin Pinkayan, and Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakool, President, NSTDA, and Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, President AIT in the presence of H.E. Dr. Subin Pinkayan, Chairman of the AIT Board of Trustees; H.E. Prof. Yongyuth Yuthavong, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Science and Technology, Royal Thai Government; and H.E. Dr. Sahas Bunditkul, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of AIT Executive Committee.

Former Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Prof. Yongyuth Yuthavong,  who also served as the first President of NSTDA, quoted the example of Boston, where Harvard University, MIT and Tufts University collaborate with each other in a competitive way. Similarly,  this agreement between NSTDA and AIT is a significant step in this direction, he remarked.

NSTDA President Dr. Thaweesak stressed upon the importance of working with partners to move towards creating a knowledge-based economy in Thailand. NSTDA has almost 500 doctorates working as researchers who can serve as mentors for AIT students, he said. The NSTDA President added that AIT students are welcome to utilize their science facilities and laboratories. Dr. Thaweesak also signaled towards the proposed Food Innopolis stating that this would be another stellar opportunity for both NSTDA and AIT to work together.

In his welcome speech, Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai touched upon  a piece of history recalling that Dr. Puey Ungphakorn, the Founding Chairman of the AIT Board of Trustees, had been assigned by the Royal Thai Government to identify a piece of state land befitting AIT's new campus. Dr. Puey hand-picked 2,000 Rais (800 Acres) of land in Rangsit that was originally assigned to the Ministry of Industry envisioning that this region would emerge a “Modern Knowledge Hub.”

In 1991, the then AIT President Alastair M. North convinced the Thai Government of the idea of a "Technology Park," which subsequently led to the creation of "Thailand Science Park" in 1992. Both AIT and Thammasat University jointly agreed to allocate about 200 Rais of land each to build NSTDA. “It was visualized by Dr. Puey Ungphakorn, and reinforced by our former AIT President, to convert this beautiful piece of land into what would eventually become a technology and knowledge hub of Thailand. This agreement is a step towards the fulfillment of that vision,” Prof. Worsak remarked.

Delivering the keynote lecture, Dr. Hiroyuki Konuma, Senior Advisor to AIT President, and former Assistant Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), spoke on the theme “World Food Security and the Role of Research and Science.”  Dr. Konuma stated that while FAO predicts that it is possible to increase food production by 60 per cent by 2050 mainly from existing arable land with a benefit of advancement of agricultural research, technological innovation and yield increase; it remains uncertain if it can be achieved due to the unpredictable impact of climate change and other factors. “Under these constraints, agricultural research, science and technology have the highest importance in our development challenge,” he added.

Keynote speeches were also delivered by Dr. Verawat Champreda of the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), and Dr. Uracha Ruktanonchai of National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC).

Initially, experts who will be deputed at AIT will come from BIOTEC, National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), and NANOTEC. Those deputed to AIT include Dr. Wonnop Visessanguan, Dr. Verawat Champreda, and Dr. Sissades Tongsima, BIOTEC; Dr. Supakorn Siddhichai, Dr. Noppadon Nuntawong, Dr. Thepchai Supnithi, and Dr. Pattravadee Ploykitikoon (NECTEC); Dr. Sitthisuntorn Supothina and Dr. Chanchana Thanachayanont, (MTEC); Dr. Uracha Rungsardthong Ruktanonchai and Dr. Rawiwan Maniratanachote (NANOTEC). These researchers shall serve as Special Adjunct Faculty Members at AIT.

Dr. Subin Pinkayan, Chairman, AIT Board of Trustees presented certificates of appreciation to NSTDA researchers.

The Agreement signing ceremony between NSTDA and AIT.