Building on the success of the forum “Connecting Vietnamese Startups in the US and Viet Nam” held in San Francisco last December, HCM City hosted a similar event on June 26-27 to bring together Vietnamese startups at home and abroad.
Saigon Innovation Hub (SiHub) under the HCM City Department of Science and Technology hosts foreign investors and companies which share experiences in building a vibrant startup ecosystem.— Photo courtesy of the department
Speaking at the opening ceremony, City Party Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan said that entrepreneurs, investors, academics, scientists and policymakers at the forum would exchange ideas and experiences.
“These are the people who can help the city develop its strengths and overcome its weaknesses,” he said, adding that a lack of a links between scientists and enterprises was a weakness in both the city and country.
“This situation has existed for 40 years. It can only be changed by developing a high-tech market where enterprises order technologies or research from scientists. We need to bring the two together,” he added.
Enterprises should also think of developing technology, apart from commericalising their products, Nhan said.
Citing his visits to the US and Israel, Nhan said he had learned that it was crucial for the city to create a connection between overseas and Vietnamese startups.
Thanks to these connections, entrepreneurs can share experiences, recruit talent, and conduct market research.
“If the city wants to grow faster, it has to rely on manpower and experiences of overseas Vietnamese,” he added.
In the last two years, the city has offered incentives to support the startup community, spending around US$90 million on startup and innovation activities, according to the city’s Department of Science and Technology.
In the same period, the city formed partnerships with 20 foreign partners to support startups, and built 20 incubators and startup supporting centres and 12 co-working spaces.
Under the city’s support, 760 startups were established.
Dr. Nguyen Ky Phung, deputy director of the department, said that startups in HCM City had developed at a faster rate than those in other cities and provinces, but they were still at a small scale and had not been commercialised.
“Many startups in the city are focused on the information communication technology, agriculture and education sectors. They have existed for less than a year and are still in the stage of assessing the market. Just a very few have expanded their businesses,” he said.
Around 60 per cent of the startups were established with less than VND1 billion ($43,800), while 50 per cent did not receive any financial investment, he added.
Dr Phung also pointed out the challenges in building a vibrant startup eco-system, such as limited funding for innovation activities, lack of connections with experts, low collaboration between agencies, and no commercialisation of scientific research. — VNS