CU Innovation Hub

iHub Chula’s New Breed of Startups to Internationalize the Thai Economy

Chula’s strategy to push CU iHub to produce quality graduates and a new breed of startups to drive Thailand 4.0 through innovation now pays off with a 16-billion-baht valuation of innovative products.

Currently, innovation is what drives global economic trends, as reflected in national policies of many countries, namely Made in China 2025, Manufacturing USA, Japan’s Society 5.0, South Korea’s I-Korea 4.0, and Malaysia’s Industry 4WRD. Thailand, based on its 20-year national strategy, laid down Thailand 4.0 development plan that will transform its economy from “efficiency-driven” to “innovation-driven” by 2036.

Innovation development requires human resources or “innovators” to create innovations and bring a positive change to the country and the world. Many countries are trying to create incubators and offer desirable incentives to attract top talent from many countries.

Though Thailand started to promote the Thailand 4.0 policy in 2017, the number of high-quality workers is still limited. Chulalongkorn University, therefore, established the Chulalongkorn University Innovation Hub, or CU Innovation Hub, aka iHub to accelerate the creation of quality graduates to help drive the country to the future.

iHub and its mission to create a new breed of startups

CU Innovation Hub (iHub) was founded in 2017 mainly to promote and support the creation of innovations that will usher the Thai society into a new way of life, learning, and creativity; to produce graduates of top talent who will become the leaders of the future, see new business opportunities via technology and intellectual properties and dare to create a disruptive change in conventional industries, challenge the traditional mindset in the workplace. “Thailand 4.0 will never reach its 2017 goals of becoming a developed country without quality human resources. As a university whose main role is the creation of knowledge that forms a stepping stone for innovations that will instigate socioeconomic impacts, iHub strives to create the 21st-century leaders with entrepreneurial skills of startups, who will use technology to create innovations that will take away the reliance on old industries, and solve the country’s problems with new and sustainable solutions,” said Dr. Santhaya Kittikowit, Chula Vice President for Innovation and New Development, and Director of CU Innovation.

Santhaya Kittikowit, Ph.D. Assistant to the President for Innovation Affairs
Santhaya Kittikowit, Ph.D. Assistant to the President for Innovation Affairs. Photo: Chulalongkorn University.

Apart from creating a new breed of startups, Dr. Santhaya said that CU iHub also supports innovation, patents, exploitation of intellectual property, application for society, income generation, and creation of economic value for Thailand. In 2021, there were 300 Chula startups under iHub’s umbrella generating a market valuation of over 16 billion baht.

CU iHub – One-Stop Service for Startups

Dr. Santhaya further highlighted the fact that CU iHub is a one-stop-service ecosystem that promotes startups from upstream to downstream. From incubation, modern business training, brainstorming for ideas, matchmaking with researchers, to fundraising, finding capital, joint venture company, consulting, mentoring, providing working space, company registration, linking business and private networks for startups that are ready for a spinoff. At present, researchers have formed Chula Spin-Off Club as a space for information exchange, discussion, and sharing experience for those who want to form a startup. Within this ecosystem, CU Enterprise, the university’s holding company was established to help raise funds and invest in potential startups, and Chulalongkorn University Intellectual Property Institute (CUIP) was founded to oversee matters related to patents and intellectual property as well.

“iHub’s responsibility goes upstream. When researchers have ideas for commercial innovation, they come and talk to us about opportunities, available technology, market, and consumers trends. Then they undergo incubation according to the level of their readiness which we divide into 7 levels ranging from having the desire but no idea, to prototype development, market launch, growing the business, to Series A financing. Each level will be trained differently. However, even though researchers are not ready, the research or technology is interesting enough, the Chulalongkorn University Technology Center (UTC) will take care of the midstream process to develop the innovation commercially. Then when it reaches downstream where the innovation is ready for market launch, and the researchers are ready to form a company, UTC will forward the project to iHub to form a spinoff,” Dr. Santhaya explained.

Dr. Santhaya added that although iHub focuses on setting up spinoffs rather than selling copyrights, or collaborating with partners if any startup is not ready to set up a company, iHub and UTC can help find other alternatives, such as selling their innovation at Chamchuri Innovation Company or selling copyrights to the work, or finding business partners for them.

The never-ending cycle of learning and innovation

Creating startups not only adds the value of knowledge and research to the market and society but also sustains the circle of learning and knowledge for Chula students and researchers. Many faculties at Chula have now adopted the integrated innovation, enterprise, research, and education learning cycle model to make Chula a research university.

Building strong spinoff startups is a “golden opportunity” for research professors, or students turned startup entrepreneurs. They will see society’s real problems and consumers’ needs that will lead them to form an analytical framework to create innovations through research that needs to be repeated until new knowledge and innovations are achieved. The direct experience of the said process can be taught in the classroom and leads to tier-one quality publications, thereby generating income from intellectual property, and in turn, helping to support other research projects.

Various startups that are the Pride of CU iHub

The startups under the iHub umbrella focus on creating outstanding innovations for society in five key areas: Health/Aging, Education, Bio-Circular Green Food & Agriculture, Sustainable Society, and Deep Tech Supercluster. Many of these startups are widely received, e.g., COVId-19 vaccine from tobacco leaves by Baiya Phytopharm, Co., Ltd, and ViaBus mobile application that facilitates commuters on public transport. Other projects include:

1. Baiya Phytopharm Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science)
• COVID-19BaiyavaccinefromtobaccoleavesusingBaiyaPharmingTMbiotechnologytocreate protein molecules from plants.
• BaiyaPlantEGF,ahighpotencyanti-agingextractthatcreatescollagenandpromotescell regeneration.

2. Mineed Technology Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Science)
Targeted drug delivery technology delivers precise amounts of active ingredients that penetrate the skin without damage within only 2 minutes, suitable for pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, vaccines.

3. Prime Nanotechnology Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Science)
Water-based silver nanocomposite anti-microbial spray.

4. ViaBus (Faculty of Engineering)

Thailand’s first real-time transit tracking and navigation app that connects all transportation systems in one app, including buses, minibuses, BTS SkyTrain, Subways, trains, express boats, ferries, and inter- provincial vans that covers more than 70 provinces. ViaBus users can see the locations and numbers of the buses, the nearest bus stops, find the fastest route, and help guide Thais and foreign commuters on Thai public transportation.

5. Bio Om Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Science and the Center of Excellence on Hazardous Substance Management)
• “Khuekkhak”microorganismsforsoilremediation. • Bio-enzymefruitsandvegetablewash.

6. Thandee innofood Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Allied Health Sciences)
Egg White Protein Noodle (Tann:D), low calorie, carb-free, and gluten-free rice vermicelli and ramen under the Eggyday brand that can be stored at room temperature for up to 18 months.

7. myCourseVille Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Engineering)
myCourseVille — Online learning platform via social networks to connect teachers and students.

8. Nabsolute Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science)
• ShieldandShield+protectionspray,aninnovativecoatingsprayforfabricfacemasksto increases the protection against tiny dust particles or droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing.
• Virus Penetration Testing Service.
• Performanceandsafetytestingofreactantsandproducts(Cell-basedTesting).

9. Bio ink Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Veterinary Science)
• Celltherapyandimmunotherapyproductsandservices.
• Development of custom-made drug molecules, active ingredients, and phytochemicals in
herbal products, drugs, cosmetics, food, and supplements.

10. Cute Enterprise Co., Ltd. (Faculty of Engineering)
• CureAirSure,amaskthatfilters99%ofparticlesandgerms,designedforAsianfaces.
• CUREAIRFiltercanfilterout99%ofbacteriaandsmallparticlesequivalenttoN95maskwhen
used with Cure Air Sure.

However, Chula also has more than 50 startup spinoffs whose products were already commercially launched.

Innovative research that iHub specializes in and supports
Innovative research that iHub specializes in and supports. Photo: Chulalongkorn University.

“Today, Chula’s startups have churned out many innovations into the market thanks to Chulalongkorn alumni, the public and private sectors, and the general public who help support us. We continue to need this kind of support from all of you, especially Chula alumni, be it encouragement, knowledge, experience, networking, and funding for the Chula teams,” said Dr. Santhaya.

How to Startup with iHub?

CU iHub gives startups training regularly to interested parties about business, innovation processes, and the pitching of innovative ideas. iHub specializes in 5 areas

1. Health and Aging
2. Education
3. Bio-Circular Green Food & Agriculture for energy, materials, health, medicine, travel, and service
4. SustainableSociety
5. Deep Tech Supercluster

However, if interested parties have ideas outside of the five focus areas, they are still welcome to join the discussions and idea exchange.

“Students, professors, or the general public with good ideas and want to try to start a startup to create innovations that benefit the society can come to visit us at iHub. Your ideas may bring social change in the future,”
said Dr. Santhaya.

Those interested in iHub startup training, or the private sector wishing to support, and expand on the work of Chula startups can contact CU Innovation Hub, located at Chaloem Rajakumari 60 Building (Chamchuri 10) Building, 19th Floor, Soi Chula 12, Chulalongkorn University, Phayathai Road, Wang Mai Subdistrict, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok Tel. +66-2218-3106, email or visit

By Chulalongkorn University

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Chulalongkorn University

“Chulalongkorn University sets the standard as a university of
innovations for society and is listed in the World’s Top 100 Universities for Academic Reputation, in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2021-2022.”

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours