Monday, July 27, 2015

Silicon Valley in Rayong

Wang Chan Valley is being created in an environment that was once home to fruit farms and rubber plantations.

RAYONG, Thailand -- Graduates of Stanford University set up companies like Apple Inc., Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard and Yahoo, helping transform Californian orchards into Silicon Valley, the incubating environment for so many household names in technology.

     PTT, Thailand's largest energy conglomerate, wants to create something similar in Wang Chan, a picturesque district in Rayong province along Thailand's eastern seaboard, where fruit farms and rubber plantations spread among rocky outcrops. The oil and gas company is investing some 60 billion baht ($1.8 billion) to build an academic park in this area, which it calls Wang Chan Valley, and plans to nurture a new generation of national scientists.

     In May, the Kamnoetvidya Science Academy accepted its first batch of 72 high school students. A research university, the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology, begins enrollments in August. The 6-sq.-km site is close to a number of industrial parks, and there is ample space for more research and development institutions and startup businesses.

     "There is a lack of educational institutions in Thailand that can foster the much-needed talents in the science and technology field," PTT Chief Executive Pailin Chuchottaworn said at a recent opening ceremony.

     Many young Thais with talent, determination and the financial wherewithal go abroad for their education. The problem, according to Pailin, is that many do not come back.


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