Fuelling Việt Nam's semiconductor growth through workforce and design innovation

October 17, 2023 - 21:55
With an ambitious goal of producing 50,000 semiconductor engineers by 2030, Việt Nam is poised to supply talent to both domestic and international enterprises.
After three years of construction, NIC Hòa Lạc is set to officially open on October 28 in Hà Nội. — Photo Lê Tiên

By Mai Hương

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Planning and Investment is developing a comprehensive initiative aimed at cultivating a robust workforce for the semiconductor industry in Việt Nam.

With an ambitious goal of producing 50,000 semiconductor engineers by 2030, the nation is poised to supply talent to both domestic and international enterprises.

Vũ Quốc Huy, Director of the National Innovation Centre (NIC), shared these insights during the pre-launch introduction of the innovation hub in Hòa Lạc, scheduled for official inauguration on 28 October.

He said these engineers would then accumulate experience and, after a period, return to Việt Nam to start businesses and invest. This strategic vision draws inspiration from successful models implemented by economies like Singapore and Taiwan.

NIC, partnering with major technology players such as Google and Meta, is taking the lead in initiatives aimed at nurturing talent for startups engaged in innovative endeavours. These initiatives include programmes like Google for Startup Accelerator and Google for Startups – Startup Academy Vietnam. Additionally, in collaboration with Meta, NIC is organising the Vietnam Innovation Challenge, a platform seeking innovative solutions to address critical national challenges, contributing to the prosperity and sustainability of Việt Nam. The upcoming Vietnam Innovation Challenge 2024 programme will specifically concentrate on solutions related to the development of the semiconductor industry.

Globally, nations are racing to develop their semiconductor industries, recognising their pivotal role in economic growth, and Việt Nam is no exception. International partnerships in the semiconductor realm gained momentum during the visit of US President Joe Biden to Việt Nam. This diplomatic push aims to integrate Việt Nam more deeply into semiconductor technology.

“Elevating its relationship with the US to a comprehensive strategic partnership opens up significant opportunities for Việt Nam to draw major American companies to come and invest in Việt Nam's semiconductor industry,” Huy said.

NIC has signed memoranda of understanding with US giants, such as Synopsys, Cadence, and Nvidia, to lay the foundation for Vietnamese start-ups and large enterprises to participate in the semiconductor value chain.

In the realm of semiconductors, the primary concern lies in human resources rather than equipment. Việt Nam holds a distinct advantage in the design segment within the semiconductor value chain (encompassing manufacturing, design, and assembly). This specific sector yields the highest profits in the semiconductor industry, with manufacturing contributing only around 7 per cent to the overall profit.

The semiconductor value chain is increasingly gravitating towards Southeast Asian countries. Việt Nam's workforce is a focal point of interest for foreign investors in the semiconductor sector.

“Within the framework of semiconductor industry development, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communications, has delineated specific priorities. Particularly, in the initial phase, emphasis will be placed on the design sector, leveraging Việt Nam's competitive advantage stemming from its rather well-established workforce,” Huy said.

The upcoming semiconductor design centre, scheduled to open in October-November 2023, is poised to contribute significantly to this ecosystem.

Notably, NIC has also established a Vietnamese innovation network of around 2,000 experts and intellectuals in the country and abroad, connecting Vietnamese scientists and experts worldwide. This network, initiated by Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng, serves to leverage global intellectual resources for Việt Nam's socio-economic development, aligning with the goals of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Established through Decision No.1269/QD-TTg in October 2019, the National Innovation Centre (NIC) operates under the Ministry of Planning and Investment. NIC's core objectives include fostering Việt Nam's innovation ecosystem, supporting domestic innovative enterprises, cultivating innovative human resources, and managing the Vietnamese innovation network. It focuses on advancing innovation, collaboration, and the establishment of supply chains across eight key sectors such as smart factories, smart cities, digital content, cybersecurity, environmental technology, medical technology, semiconductor industry, and hydrogen technology. — VNS