Chulalongkorn University Technology Center (UTC) urges Deep Tech researchers to push forth deep innovations onto the market, promote business ventures, and be the driving force in the Thai economy.
DeepGI artificial intelligence detection of colorectal cancer, Aqua Innovac needle-free aqua vaccine for farmed fish, ReadMe by eikonnex.ai, an artificial intelligence device that reads texts, images, and videos and transfers them to digital documents.
These are but a few of the 30 outstanding innovations from in-depth research or Deep Tech by Chulalongkorn Universities researchers and their networks supported by Chulalongkorn University Technology Center: UTC.
According to Dr. Pravee Kruachottikul who heads Chulalongkorn University Technology Center (UTC) “Good research not only contributes towards cultivating academic knowledge but can also be of added value when it is put to actual use. UTC is determined to provide a platform to accelerate Deep Tech research works onto the market by creating impactful research that sustainably addresses social and economic questions.”
Deep Tech is in-depth technology that is highly complex and cannot be easily imitated within a short time which proves advantageous in the highly competitive business arenas. Dr. Pravee also added that there are a large number of Deep Tech research in Thailand that have been published and are widely accepted internationally, but unfortunately, haven’t been utilized fully. Moreover, if researchers were to work on their own, they might not be able to add the commercial dimension to their work in a more substantial manner. UTC was therefore established to address this gap.
“Innovations deriving from Deep Tech can be patented, and are therefore able to add social and economic value following Chula’s Innovations for Society concept.”
How does UTC provide support for Deep Tech research?
Currently, UTC concentrates on working with three types of Deep Tech research, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI), Medical Technology (MedTech), and Biotechnology (BioTech). Its work begins with a search for Deep Tech research, after which UTC will work closely with the research team to improve its capacity for commercialization and specific technology readiness by UTC’s qualified specialists as well as its alliance of experts comprising experts in innovation project development, and business planning.
They will help in offering advice at various stages such as business model development, market testing, selection of commercial models, etc. Experts in business laws and patent strategies can offer advice on such matters as the IP landscape or food and drugs registration.
Specialists in specific areas, such as applied AI in medical technology will offer their advice on how to conduct clinical trials, disbursement systems, or strategies for ensuring physician’s adoption of technology, etc. There are also coaches from outside Chulalongkorn University who provide advice on innovation development, some of whom are Chula alumni, business practitioners, and those working on social projects.
Developing Deep Tech for the Innovation Market
Dr. Pravee explained that turning research into a commercialized innovation should not extend over 12 months. The process entails the three major steps:
1. The search for available research
UTC is constantly on the lookout for and welcomes submissions of research and has committees to consider plausible research projects. Once the research has been accepted, another team of experts on innovation development will oversee the project to enhance its business potentials alongside technological development until a primary business model is derived. They are then able to assess the potential of the research in providing solutions for the target market and whether there are interested customers.
2. Product Development and field testing with potential customers or actual product users.
With the derived business plan, the research team can soon develop a model that can then undergo actual market testing with the target group. UTC’s experts or coaches in various dimensions are there to provide advice after which the test results are applied to make changes or improvements as needed so that the product follows the direction set within the determined timeframe.
3. Proceeding with the commercial aspect
Once the desired product has been developed, the next step is to plan how to handle its commercial aspect to derive the highest benefits. UTC’s experts are there to provide such useful information as legal matters, patent application, the transmission of technology/patents from the university, negotiations with business partners, and fundraising for example.
UTC’s Deep Tech Innovations
For almost three years (2019 onward), the UTC has played a part in cultivating more than 36 Deep Tech research projects. At the end of 2021, the UTC Deep Tech Demo Day was organized to showcase outstanding AI and MedTech Innovations from 15 teams that showed the potential to become Thailand’s Deep Tech Startups in the future. The event had online booths displaying more than 30 AI and MedTech innovations and also featured a Business Matching activity with agencies from both the government and private sectors. Internationally renowned experts were invited to share their expertise on matters related to Deep Tech. Some of the innovations presented at the event are as follows:
ReadMe by eikonnex.ai
by researchers from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Engineering — an AI innovation with the ability to read texts in Thai and English along with symbols on documents, images, and videos and transform them into digital documents that can be used in various ways, such as company’s financial documents storage, credit scoring for bank loans, etc.
a needleless vaccine for farmed fish by researchers from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University. An innovation that prevents infection from a bacterium that causes Branchiomycosis or “gill rot disease”, and reduces deaths in fish caused by stress after vaccination with needles.
by a joint research team from the Faculty of Engineering, and the Faculty of Medicine that features AI detection of colorectal cancer that improves diagnosis and reduces the number of examination errors.
How does one join UTC projects?
Not only does UTC lend its support to researchers affiliated with Chulalongkorn University, but it is also open to Deep Tech researchers from elsewhere, especially in the fields of AI, MedTech, and Biotech which are UTC’s main concentrations. Other Deep Tech research works are also welcome.
Dr. Pravee concluded that students who are interested in Deep Tech but do not have any research works can also join the UTC team to undergo practical training.