Vietnamese and foreign start-up businesses have the same challenges and opportunities, as Vietnam has an open policy for innovative foreign start-ups investing in the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam spoke at the High Level Policy Dialogue on start-up ecosystem development during TechFest 2018. He pointed out difficulties in the start-up business environment to foreign businesses and risk investment foundations seeking opportunities in the country.
“We welcome all start-up businesses and do not distinguish between Vietnamese and foreign businesses,” Dam said. “We shared our challenges and hope foreign start-up investors can turn them into opportunities.”
The deputy PM said Vietnam’s Government would include a start-up programme in the curriculum to encourage young people to think big in the future.
“There is no doubt that Vietnam is going through a golden period of innovation,” said Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director of UNDP Vietnam. “The start-up ecosystem continues to grow as there are currently over 3,000 start-ups in Vietnam with increased interest from global investors. This is a considerable growth from 2012 when there were merely 400 start-ups.
“But at the same time, we know that Vietnam continues to face significant challenges to the country’s continued economic, social and environmental development,” she said.
She said economic inequality, environmental degradation, increasing energy and food demands, some remaining pockets of poverty and the effects of climate change are all problems the Government cannot address on its own.
“We are not going to meet the ambition of the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 without start-ups and entrepreneurship, and it is critical for the Government of Vietnam to connect start-ups to these challenges to tap into the commitment, creativity and vision of this new generation of young Vietnamese entrepreneurs to solve some of the biggest challenges this country faces,” she said.
Dr. Emmet McElhatton, Commercial Manager of New Zealand G2G Partnerships Office, said: “New Zealand is a large country but with a small population, far away from the rest of the world. And that means we need to make innovation part of our survival DNA. To survive as an economy, we have to innovate.”
He said focus should not be on physical buildings and spaces, but on programmes and activation. Co-working spaces do not contribute to economic development, and are simply modern office spaces.
“There are a limited number of sustainable funding models that support the ecosystems,” he said. “Income for incubators and accelerators can be generated from education and training, innovation services, fund management and, to a lesser degree, commercialisation and equity. Engagement of the ecosystem is driven through innovation expertise and brand.”
He said it was healthy to talk about failure, as only three out of every 100 ventures succeed.
“I emphasise the importance of government thinking and behaving in a lean and agile manner,” he said. “We have the duty to our citizens to improve services and embrace what comes out of the private sector in terms of new ways of working and providing support to our citizens.”
Aaron McDonald, CEO and Co-founder of Centrality – Australia’s largest and one of the world’s top Blockchain projects – said Centrality sees Vietnam as a hot spot for highly skilled and trained developers.
He said the crypto and developer community in Vietnam is growing fast and Centrality would like to build on its network. Centrality’s tools offer options to create consumer apps and monetise ideas.
“We think there are great opportunities for businesses and individuals in Vietnam to take advantage of the decentralised economy,” he said. “There is a talent pool of skilled developers and some great entrepreneurial ideas in Vietnam. Distributed ledgers and blockchain technology have the potential to provide a real boost to the economy. Blockchain is an incredibly powerful and disruptive technology which provides real opportunities for ground-breaking innovation.”
A document-signing ceremony was also held yesterday between the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam, Enterprise Singapore (ESG), Action Community for Entrepreneurship (Singapore), Start-up Thailand, Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, World Start-up Festival (the US) and German Accelerator Southeast Asia. The document expressed support for the development of an innovation start-up ecosystem. The Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and EON Reality Inc from the US also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on developing virtual and augmented reality.
TechFest 2018 closes today.
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