|Simon Milner, the Vice President of Public Policy for APAC at Meta. — VNS Photo Mai Hương|
Việt Nam has rapidly emerged as a vibrant player on the global stage, with robust economic growth and a burgeoning digital ecosystem. On the sidelines of the Vietnam Innovation Award last week, Việt Nam News reporter Mai Hương spoke to Simon Milner, Vice President of Public Policy for APAC at Meta, about Việt Nam's innovation landscape and the digital transformation journey of Vietnamese businesses in recent years.
How do you assess the innovation ecosystem in Việt Nam and the digital transformation process of Vietnamese businesses in recent years?
As the new Southeast Asian tiger economy, Việt Nam has shown robust growth in the last few years and has emerged to come to the forefront of international trade.
In 2022, according to Bain & Company, there were 60 million digital consumers in Việt Nam, which equates to 80 per cent of the population 15+. The growth has steadied from the pandemic years, and that means the opportunity outweighs growing uncertainty. Furthermore, with a young population of over 97 million and a median age of 30 years old, Việt Nam is poised to take the digital economy lead in Southeast Asia. Việt Nam's pool of talent is young, hardworking and has an appetite for new technologies and innovation and can learn very quickly.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are central to Việt Nam’s economic growth, providing significant contributions to job creation, export promotion and poverty reduction. As such, we are committed to help unlock growth for Việt Nam as it moves toward growing its position as an innovative digital economy through Industrial Revolution 4.0.
We are very positive about the digital ecosystem in Việt Nam.
Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng said: “We're only just starting, we have a lot to improve”. I think that ambition is great to have. In our company, we have a saying, which is “this journey is only 1 per cent finished”. That statement, I think the British English expression is having a constant appetite for progress and not resting on your laurels. And actually, it implies that we’re not doing the necessary tasks, and we must take action otherwise we'll fall behind. So it's not just about the dynamism and it's also the ambition that is very impressive.
What should the government and businesses themselves do to help domestic enterprises participate in the global value chain and accelerate the national digital transformation?
Meta is impressed with the thriving digital ecosystem that Việt Nam's hard-working and creative entrepreneurs have built with support from smart government policies as well as the Government's efforts to realise Việt Nam's goals on digital transformation and Industry 4.0 vision.
Việt Nam is one of the leading countries in the world in Business Conversation and has a lot of growth potential. We have also continuously invested in artificial intelligence (AI) to develop new tools that help businesses create more value. So I think, to continue to focus on innovation, there are a lot of new technologies from AI to virtual reality, semiconductors... and some of Meta's AI discovery tools like Advantage Plus are something Vietnamese businesses can take advantage of and anticipate trends.
I believe that keeping the younger generation excited about new technologies is an important factor.
What role do large domestic enterprises and big foreign corporations like Meta play in promoting innovation in Việt Nam and spreading the spirit of innovation to the business community?
In 2019, Việt Nam launched its “Make in Việt Nam” strategy to develop its domestic ICT industry by shifting from assembly and outsourcing to one with strong local capabilities for product creation and design. Earlier this year, Việt Nam set its target of growing its digital economy from the current 8.2 per cent of GDP to 20 per cent by 2025, transforming from low-tech manufacturing to a service-oriented economy.
Everywhere you turn, digital transformation is happening. This process is expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic. No one can afford to ignore the digital transformation trend and the rewards it can get from riding this wave. As a digital native company, Meta is committed to supporting businesses in its digital transformation process, especially those vulnerable groups such as micro and small businesses, women-led businesses, or businesses in remote areas.
We want to partner with organisations, including the National Innovation Centre (NIC) and various government entities, including city governments like Đà Nẵng City, to understand the challenges they face and explore ways in which we can provide assistance.
In the last five years in Việt Nam, Meta has provided digital skills training for 580,000 students, close to 25,000 teachers, and 64,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Meta wants to help support the business community to thrive. To date, Meta has supported over 85,000 SMEs via the cooperation with Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other partners.
On August 15 this year, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Meta and the BHD Company launched the “Let's Feast Việt Nam” on Netflix and other online platforms. It’s an epic series which follows 14 talented content creators from six different Asian countries on their amazing adventure in Việt Nam.
In 2022, Meta together with the Ministry of Planning and Investment, launched the Việt Nam Innovation Challenge. The impressive figures of over 750 applications underscore the programme's reach and attractiveness. We look forward to the awarded solutions being adopted widely, generating more value and helping shape the innovation ecosystem in Việt Nam. Meta is confident that these solutions, as well as those in future annual challenges, will serve as catalysts to invigorate and expedite Việt Nam’s digital transformation and boost the competitiveness of over 800,000 small and medium-sized enterprises across Việt Nam. — VNS