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Technology needs a spark

Update: September, 17/2012 - 09:10

The head of the High Technology Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Dam Bach Duong, spoke to Thoi bao Kinh te Sai Gon (Sai Gon Economic Times) about how the nation fails to keep pace with global technology.

Can you briefly define what high technology is?

To put it simply, the term ‘high technology' refers to all technologies that can be said to be outstanding and will generate a high increase in value. They require big investment and pose high risk. When applied successfully in production, they can produce lots of profit.

However, the concept of a ‘high' technology also depends on its context in a particular time and space. For example, 3G is considered high technology at this time in Viet Nam, but not in America where they now have 4G technology. In the next few years, it's possible that 3G will be removed from the list of high technologies in Viet Nam if 4G is widely introduced.

Should we be worried that technologies considered outdated in other countries are still favoured in Viet Nam?

In 2010, the Government issued a list of 46 technologies to be given priority for investment, and another of 76 hi-tech products that should be encouraged to develop in Viet Nam. The two lists express the country's determination to attract investment for the development of hi-tech technologies and products.

If foreign enterprises develop these in Viet Nam, they will be eligible to receive Government incentives.

What are the major difficulties facing Viet Nam in the quest to develop high technologies?

There are some major ones. Generally speaking, Viet Nam's capacity in science and technology is still moderate. The industry of high technology has yet to develop fully and its application is limited at this point. Although Viet Nam has attracted investment from world leading companies, the technology transfer has yet to make a great impression. We have four hi-tech sectors. Information and community is taking off but there has yet to be the same progress in the areas of biology, new materials and automatics.

Finally, due to the high investment required - and the high risk - Viet Nam cannot currently meet the whole demand due to the limits of the State budget and the financial capacity of local enterprises.

Many products claim to be manufactured with high technologies. Are there any criteria to verify if a product as a hi-tech one or not?

As mentioned above, the definition of high technology is relative. It is not as obvious as the standards of Good Medical Practice or Good Agriculture Practice. It's very difficult to develop a set of criteria to evaluate the "height" of technologies in general. There are criteria in the Government's lists to certify hi-tech enterprises, applied projects and products, but if an enterprise claims independently to apply hi-tech production there is currently no sanction to punish them as far as I am aware. — VNS

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