Software hub in Khon Kaen

The Industry Ministry will set up the country's first software industrial estate in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen this year.

"We would like to promote this industrial estate as a high-technology hub in the same way as Silicon Valley in the United States and Bangalore in India," Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister Suwit Khunkitti said yesterday.

Suwit's political constituency is in Khon Kaen.

He said the country's software industry has the potential to generate an annual income of Bt50 billion, while the global software industry is estimated to be worth more than Bt25 trillion.

"We still have big room to grow this industry and we welcome all sizes of software operators to set up their business here," he said.

The Industry Ministry earlier eyed a location in one of three regional cities: Khon Kaen in the Northeast, Chiang Mai in the North and Phuket in the South. Khon Kaen was chosen due to its manpower advantage.

The project will lead to collaboration between Khon Kaen University and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand.

The university has offered 300 rai of land to accommodate the estate and will supply a highly skilled workforce to serve the demands of hi-tech companies.

Suwit said the industrial estate would also provide an attractive deduction of corporate income tax for firms investing in the area.

The minister plans to stage a roadshow with the Board of Investment (BoI) in Japan, Europe and the United States. He said he would meet and persuade giant firms such as IBM and Microsoft to expand their operations in the new estate.

In a seminar entitled "Thailand Investment Year 2008-09" on Thursday, Suwit said the BoI targeted that applications for advanced technology projects in the electrical and electronics industries would surge to Bt80 billion this year.

Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul

The Nation