Thailand’s True Corp Plans $500bn Bangkok Tech Hub


Things are heating up in Thailand. Months after the government announced a plan to launch a US$570 million venture fund for developing the startup ecosystem, True Corporation, one of country’s biggest mobile operators, has unveiled a massive digital hub project said to be worth over half a billion dollars.

CEO Suphachai Chearavanont says the project – now underway and will be completed by mid-2018 – is the company’s way of supporting the Thai government’s goal of making the country a regional center for innovation.

The hub, called True Digital Park, will span 200,000 square meters of Whizdom 101, a mixed-use real estate complex being built by Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC) in Bangkok. The property will cost US$577 million to develop and True Corporation will invest US$43 million to install the digital infrastructure, according to local media. It’s unclear whether True will be the one shouldering the development cost (the media were giving conflicting reports here and here), but we’ve reached out to the company to confirm. We will update this story when we hear back.

The project will feature a huge co-working space in an open-air green area, offices, and data centers, with amenities, broadband and an advanced 4G network. It will cater to tech companies – big and small, universities, and R&D institutions.

Suphachai says they want to propel Thailand’s startup ecosystem and make the country’s talent pool more competitive through the transfer of knowledge and expertise within the hub.

Thailand’s tech scene is still young and has been traditionally overlooked in favor of neighbors Singapore and Indonesia, yet it’s an attractive market. Geographically, it’s located at the center of the region and could be a good launchpad for expansion. Smartphone penetration among its 67 million population now stands at 49 percent and is growing. The number of VCs and corporations investing in the market and the amount of funding for startups have grown to 60-plus and US$108 million, respectively, this year from practically nothing four years ago.

Owned by Thailand’s richest man Dhanin Chearavanont (Suphachai’s father), True Corporation has made big bets on the tech scene. Apart from the digital hub, it launched a startup accelerator program where it’s working closely with Silicon Valley VC firm 500 Startups.

500 Startups itself has been keen on Thailand, setting up a dedicated fund called 500 TukTuks, which was named after the country’s iconic mototaxis.

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