The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) has signed a landmark agreement with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) to create a premier technology and knowledge hub in Thailand.

The partnership allows for 11 NSTDA experts and researchers to work at AIT as special adjunct faculty members, while AIT gets access to NSTDA research facilities.

AIT tech hub Figure 1: From left: Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakool,H.E. Prof. Yongyuth Yuthavong, H.E. Dr. Subin Pinkayan, and Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai. (Source: AIT)

In his welcome speech, Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai recalled 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. Puey handpicked 2,000 rais (800 acres) of land in Rangsit—originally assigned to the Ministry of Industry—with a goal of developing it into 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 visualised 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 fulfilment of that vision,” Worsak remarked.

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 utilise their science facilities and laboratories. Dr. Thaweesak also signalled towards the proposed Food Innopolis stating that this would be another stellar opportunity for both NSTDA and AIT to work together.

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).

The researchers shall serve as special adjunct faculty members at AIT.