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Economic Sector

Last updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017

 

Accelerating Innovative Start-ups in Vietnam

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017


“Business start-up is not successful in all countries, and Vietnam does not lag behind the business start-up movement. This is a good time to start a business movement in general and to start innovative businesses in particular in Vietnam.” Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Van Tung said in an interview granted to Vietnam Business Forum on business start-ups, especially innovative start-ups, mechanisms and policies aimed to create a boost to this activity in Vietnam. Nguyen Hanh and Le Hien report.

How do you think of the starting point and the current status of business start-ups in Vietnam today?
Business start-up is not successful in all countries and Vietnam does not lag behind the business start-up movement. This is a good time to start a business movement in general and to start innovative businesses in particular in Vietnam.

Currently, a lot of countries in the world have successful business start-up movements such as Israel, the United States, South Korea and Singapore. We go after them but we have a very important requirement when we start a business, that is, human resources. The success or failure of a start-up depends on human resources, while Vietnam is considered to have golden human resources.

Could you please tell results of TECHFEST Vietnam 2015, a festival of Vietnamese innovative start-ups? What TECHFEST Vietnam 2016 inherited and promoted experience gained in 2015?
TECHFEST is an internationally branded event where start-ups can access potential customers, investors, technology specialists, start-up organisations and media agencies in Vietnam and from other countries. This is an opportunity for members of the Vietnamese start-up ecosystem to share knowledge and experience with each other and with start-up ecosystems in the region; and disseminate start-up support programmes and typical scientific and technological products made by tech start-ups.
2015 was the first year TECHFEST was organised in Vietnam. The event brought together nearly 1,000 attendants and about 50 domestic and international investors to join investor - start-up connectivity events. After finishing, TECHFEST 2015 shaped connections and had relatively big investments. Many start-ups called for millions of US dollars of investment.

For example, Finland, a successful start-up country, attracted only 300 people or so at the first start-up festival but participants increased to 14,000 people in 2014 (Vietnam drew about 1,000 attendants in the first year). With such data, we thought that TECHFEST had followed other successful countries in organisation.

After TECHFEST 2015, business start-ups grew strongly and came into substance. The Government also decided to take 2016 as the year of national business start-up. I think it was also the effect of TECHFEST 2015. Compared with the 2015 edition, TECHFEST 2016 was much bigger. The event caught the participation of nearly 3,000 people with 220 meetings and business matches, over 130 domestic and foreign investors, and 180 science and technology companies. More than 100 companies attended the innovative start-up exhibition.

How do you think about the advantages and disadvantages of the start-up movement in general and innovative start-up movement in particular in Vietnam today?
As a monitor of start-up management, I think that this is a very good time for start-up movement and innovative start-ups in Vietnam. This is demonstrated by State and Party leadership and regulations on business start-up. In addition, the start-up movement gains another advantage as it catches the fancy of media agencies.

However, there are still a lot of difficulties, especially the knowledge of starting a business. Apart from having confidence and enthusiasm, entrepreneurs must have knowledge of business start-up. This may not be sufficiently taught by schools. For example, science schools teach expertise but they do not teach the knowledge of laws, intellectual property rights, product quality standards and knowledge of sharpening competitive edge in the market.

We are also in discussion with the Ministry of Education and Training to teach start-up in some technical and business schools in order to equip start-up knowledge for students.

Could you please tell more about the roles of the Ministry of Science and Technology in creating a bridge for investors and tech start-ups? What has the ministry done to support fundraising for start-ups?
The Ministry of Science and Technology was assigned by the Government to complete a legal framework for science and technology to support and create start-up support systems in support of start-up ecosystem and national innovative start-up. The scheme “National Program to Support Innovative Start-up Ecosystem in Vietnam to 2025” was adopted by the Prime Minister under Decision 844/QD-TTg dated May 18, 2016. This was the first time Vietnam has a national programme for innovative start-ups. The scheme laid emphasis on strengthening connectivity of ministries, branches and localities to develop ecosystem components and develop connectivity of those components for a sustainable ecosystem.

This ministry has also carried out many activities to assist investors and enterprises to match their interests by inviting domestic and foreign investors to TECHFEST; and sending potential start-up teams to foreign nations, to major start-up events in Finland, the United States, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. International cooperation in business start-up is also illustrated in such aspects as the scheme of technological commercialisation in the model of Vietnam Silicon Valley (VSV), the Vietnam-Finland Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP), “Starting a business with Israel” Contest 2014, “Connectivity and innovative renovation 2016”, and visits to countries with developed start-up ecosystems.

Regarding investment for start-ups in Vietnam, we have been actively mobilising socialised supports. We have searched, discovered and supported start-ups. The National Innovation Programme has been approved and implemented. Besides, the Fostering Innovation through Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Project for Vietnam, the IPP Programme, and the Business Incubation Centre have supported a lot of business start-ups. Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park also has a business incubation centre.

Additionally, we have recommended ministry-run funds such as the National Technology Innovation Fund to support innovative start-ups. As for foreign funds, we have created connectivity, introduced start-ups to work with them, and brought start-ups to countries with strong start-ups like Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Finland and Israel to meet, exchange, discuss and establish investment cooperation in support of Vietnamese start-ups.

I think that, with these projects and measures, start-up movement will have strong changes in the coming time.





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