Thailand is investing heavily in nanotechnology, identified as a "core technology area" in its ten-year framework for science and technology. But scientists and engineers in the discipline are hard to come by.
The government approved a national nanotechnology programme in 2003, under which the National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC) was established in 2004 to improve products in the food, automobiles, textiles, health and farming sectors.
Scientists also hope that nanotechnology can bring further solutions to problems in agriculture and the environment.
NANOTEC is mainly focusing on three areas; nano-coatings, nano-encapsulation and nano-devices and has set up eight centers of excellence, each receiving funds of about US$160,000 a year for five years.
But attracting motivated and talented scientists has proved a problem. Thailand has about three scientists per 10,000 of the population — relatively low compared to neighbouring countries.
Industrialists hope that improving the link between universities and industry will attract researchers to the country. And the government is encouraging university–industry collaboration by offering tax incentives up to 200 per cent for joint research.