The National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) was first set up under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy on 20 September 1983. After the establishment of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) on 30 December 1991, BIOTEC became one of the NSTDA centers, operating outside the normal framework of civil service and state enterprises. This enabled the Center to operate more effectively to support and transfer technology for the development of industry, agriculture, natural resources, environment and consequently the social and economic well-being of Thai people. Other centers under the NSTDA family include National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC) and Technology Management Center (TMC).
During 2007-2008, NSTDA and its centers underwent organization re-structuring, with particular focus on research funding. From 1 October 2008, research funding activities and research program management are coordinated under the Cluster and Program Management Office under NSTDA, and BIOTEC now functions as a research institute, with a funding program specifically addressing platform technology development.
As a premier research institute in Thailand and Asia, BIOTEC operates research units located at Thailand Science Park and specialized laboratories hosted by various universities, employing 570 staff, of which 170 are PhD researchers and 200 research assistants and lab technicians (as of September 2013). BIOTEC research covers a wide spectrum from agricultural science to biomedical science and environmental science. Apart from research laboratories, BIOTEC activities also include policy research, an outreach program, training and international relations.
BIOTEC income is sourced from government funding and revenues from providing services/commercialization and non-government entities such as international funding agencies and private foundations.
BIOTEC in Three Decades
In 1982, the Thai Government tendered a bid to host a UNIDO international centre for genetic engineering and biotechnology. The attempt was unscuccesful. Nevertheless, recognizing the potential of biotechnology, the Government decided to found the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) in 1983.
First Decade (1983-1992): BIOTEC provided basic infrastructure in biotechnology. To achieve its goals, the Center built up a network of biotech experts and supported the development of laboratories in academic institutions. BIOTEC also strongly supported the competency enhancement of personnel in the biotechnology field by granting scholarships for Master's and Doctoral degrees.
Second Decade (1993-2002): As new technology quickly evolved, BIOTEC worked in collaboration with several leading institutions in Thailand to achieve biotechnology excellence. In preparing the country for biotechnology, notable successes included: Biotechnology Policy Development, Intellectual Property Management, Biosafety Guidelines, raising public awareness and educating the public about biotech and its applications.
Third Decade (2003-2013): Thailand's National Biotechnology Policy Framework was implemented with emphasis on healthcare services, modern biotechnology, education, training, biotechnology business and intellectual property rights. While new technologies and discoveries have been transferred and applied for the benefit of private companies and the public, especially in rural communities, enhancement of the competency of personnel in the biotechnology field remains the prime focus.