International cooperation crucial for startup development

The startup culture in Vietnam has taken off in recent years, with foreign venture capital now five times higher than that by domestic players. Thus, it is important to note that international cooperation is crucial to bolstering startup innovation in the country.

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Participants at a conference to call for resources to support innovative startups in Vietnam
Enhancing international cooperation


At a recent conference to discuss measures that will attract domestic and foreign resources for Vietnamese startups, Phan Hoang Lan, head of the Planning and Finance Section for the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST)’s National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation Department (NATECD), said that Vietnam has witnessed robust development in its innovative startup ecosystem, with some 3,000 startups, double the figure of 2015.

Vietnam is currently home to 30 business incubators and 10 business accelerators, with exemplary institutions like the Hoa Lac Hi-tech business incubator, the Sai Gon Hi-tech business incubator, the Da Nang incubator, and the Business Startup Support Centre. 

In particular, foreign players have landed big investments in Vietnamese startups. According to a report compiled by the Topica Founder Institute (TFI), Vietnam received more than US$291 million for 92 startup deals last year, compared to 50 deals worth US$205 million the year previous.

In addition, there are some 40 investment funds in Vietnam, most of which are developed by foreigners.

Lan said that the NATECD has joined hands with the office of Project 844 on helping the national innovative startup ecosystem through 2025, which looks to support excellent startups to join international forums and bolster international cooperation through incubators and embassies.

Pham Dung Nam, Director of the office of Project 844, said that although foreign players have been present in 30% of total startup deals, their investment is much larger than that made by Vietnamese firms. Therefore, mobilising foreign resources and promoting international cooperation are especially important, especially as Vietnamese startups are becoming increasingly attractive to foreign investors.

Pham Hong Quat, head of the NATECD, also laid stress on the importance of attracting international resources for Vietnamese startups and innovation works.

Techfest, one of the largest startup events in the country, is organised annually by the MoST to create connections for domestic and foreign stakeholders in the startup ecosystem, he said.

Quat also highlighted that the event has drawn the attention of the international startup community and various foreign investors.

Techfest 2018, scheduled from November 29 to December 1, will see the attendance of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who will hold a dialogue with innovative startups to enhance the community’s ecosystem in the near future.

Creating a favourable environment for startups

According to Nam, the MoST has joined hands with relevant ministries and branches to create favourable legal corridors for startup development, including the issuance of Circular No.1/2018/TT-BKHCN dated April 12, 2018 which regulates the management of Project 844 and Decree 38/2018/ND-CP on investment in startup SMEs. 

The ministry also contributed to building content that supports innovative startups and investment in startups from the sci-tech development fund. 

Last year, the ministry successfully organised the APEC 2017 Startup Forum, drawing the participation of nearly 30 startups, and more than 30 domestic and foreign investors and venture capitals. The event created opportunities for APEC member economies to look to form a dynamic and networked APEC startup community.

Furthermore, a wide range of regional conferences have been held recently, helping localities to exchange experience in innovative startup and capitalise their startup potential.

The Vietnam National Ecosystem Portal was completed, providing information on the innovative startup ecosystem in the country. Meanwhile, this year, Project 844 will channel its focus on improving capacity for startups, providing services for startup businesses, and enhancing domestic and international linkages in the field. 

A network exclusively for innovative startups will be set up, with the involvement of investors, funds, a consulting network, and experts, among others.
VNA

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