Under the Researcher Links scheme offered within the Newton Fund, I have been attending (March 26-30, 2018) a Lancaster University and Thammasat University workshop on Micro, small and Medium-sized Enterprises’ Digital Transformation in Thailand. Thanks to Professor Juliana Sutanto and Dr Ruilin Zhufrom Lancaster and Dr. Peter Ractham from Thammasat.
Themes and Objectives
Thailand has made remarkable progress in expanding its economy and accelerating development over the past decades. National growth has decelerated recently, but there are several ways in which the country might challenge this slowdown. One option is to focus on MSMEs. MSMEs play an important role, particularly in developing countries where they account for over 90% of enterprises and 50%-60% of employment (UN report, 2016). The effectiveness of MSMEs lies in the nexus of three major trends in Thailand:
- The proliferation of IT and e-commerce platforms could dramatically expand MSMEs’ opportunities to engage in online trade, but this opportunity remains underexploited;
- Alternative payment and finance platforms are also untapped as tools for business; the region’s unmet trade finance demand, much of it by MSMEs, is estimated at almost $700 billion; and
- Insufficient (albeit growing) policy focus on MSMEs as the engines of trade, growth, and job creation in the nation.
The main objectives of the workshop are as follows:
- To convene experienced scholars and ECRs from the two countries to showcase their research and share their thoughts on sustainable business development through technology and innovation, and to foster cooperative and collegial interaction;
- To conceptualise and develop – in conjunction with the UN’s trade and development experts – a concrete and specific academic framework that will help scholars understand local MSMEs’ adoption and utilisation of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customers (B2C) e-commerce and online payment systems to fuel overall growth and competitiveness;
- To identify and develop workable solutions to the hurdles that prevent MSMEs from meaningfully engaging in online commerce and adopting technology and innovation to foster growth; and
- To initiate and develop reciprocal partnerships between the two institutions and scholars in the UK and Thailand in order to enhance scholarly capacity and improve MSME capacity. Taken from here.
Some interesting presentations and takeaways, that can incorporate work I am doing in innovation in the tourism sector. Thanks to the organizers for local arrangements, such as accommodation, food and tours, which were all excellent.