The Siam Cement Group (SCG) plans to invest heavily in research and development (R&D) to make it the country’s largest unit, said Kanokrot Phalakornkul, director of SCG’s Corporate R&D and IP Centre.
Investment would focus on R&D personnel with plans to increase the number of researchers to 400, mostly at the doctorate and master degree levels. Currently, only 20 researchers have doctorate degrees.
SCG sees it as essential to increase the R&D workforce to cope with its business expansion, both at home and abroad by developing new technologies for production and products.
Set up in 2004, the R&D unit had problems with turnover and attracting talent in its first two years, which led the company to offer higher financial returns and benefits for staff.
According to Dr Kanokrot, SCG has also signed agreements with various universities to co-operate in producing R&D personnel.
To solve the brain-drain problem, SCG has revised monthly pay for R&D staff to 43,500 baht a month for master’s degree holders and 66,000 baht for doctorate holders. For senior researchers, monthly pay starts at 100,000 baht plus bonuses from R&D work performed in two years excluding other returns from patents and R&D work publications.
An official in the Thailand Research Fund, a unit of the Prime Minister’s office said that once SCG succeeds in upgrading its R&D units, it would become the country’s largest R&D unit owned by the private sector compared with those of ATE Plc and the CP Group, each having only 200 R&D staff.
Deputy Industry Minister Piyabutr Cholvijarn said a budget of 337 million baht was set aside for next year to support R&D in universities to link with industries, especially small and medium-sized enterprises as a long term plan to strengthen business competitiveness. Of the total, 237 million baht would go to the Thailand Research Fund and 100 million to the National Science and Technology Development Board.