Việt Nam start-ups future in the hands of AI?

May 27, 2024 - 08:18
The AI race is gaining momentum as it is anticipated to bring about significant behavioural changes, not only for individuals but also for businesses.
A product of a Vietnamese brand showcased at the 2024 Việt Nam Expo in Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Ly Ly Cao

Compiled by Ly Ly Cao

HÀ NỘI — The development of Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the start-up game in the world, including Việt Nam.

AI took centre stage for the first time in history during the recent World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland in January, becoming one of the top hot topics alongside issues like security, employment and climate change.

Within the vast realm of AI, Generative AI (GenAI) stole the spotlight, showcasing the ability to simulate human intelligence and generate new content. This technology revolutionises human behaviour, impacting work, learning, entertainment and artistic creativity in profound ways.

In Việt Nam, AI is booming and becoming a pivotal technology in the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).

At the beginning of 2021, the Prime Minister issued the National Strategy for Research, Development and Application of AI until 2030, aiming to make Việt Nam a leader in ASEAN and establish ten reputable AI brands by 2030.

This has attracted investment from both tech giants and innovative start-ups, creating new opportunities for groundbreaking projects and business models.

Kai Yong Kang, Business Development Manager for Start-ups at Amazon Web Services (AWS), said that 2024 will be known as the 'Year Of Products'.

Integration and AI use will become a widespread topic, extending beyond foundation models to encompass technologies like vector databases and orchestration engines.

There is a mass inflow of investment in GenAI start-ups in top technology hubs like Silicon Valley and Europe, said Vy Lê, CEO of Do Ventures.

However, the rapidly evolving AI market should also be approached with caution in terms of partnerships. It is common for investment funds to make small initial investments or wait for technology maturity. Key factors to evaluate AI start-ups include competitive advantage, revenue model and the team behind it, Vy added.

Laura Nguyễn, a partner at GenAI Fund, stressed that the top concern for investment funds is to ensure the sustainability of GenAI start-up business models.

This is particularly important in the presence of tech giants like Google and Microsoft, who have access to massive amounts of data.

She also highlighted the need for GenAI entrepreneurs to protect their businesses from market risks while fostering innovation and creativity.

Prominent outlook

Experts are sharing optimistic insights on the progress of AI in Việt Nam as technology companies make big investments.

Many university students are now GenAI founders and have already developed products that generate substantial revenues.

Việt Nam’s start-up ecosystem has progressed remarkably in recent years.

A product of a Vietnamese brand showcased at the 2024 Việt Nam Expo in Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Ly Ly Cao

Experts highlight the importance of creating a supportive environment and infrastructure for startup development.

With a stable economy, a fast-growing ecosystem, a favourable start-up environment, low costs and support from government policies and large corporations, AI start-ups are flourishing.

Vy from Do Ventures noted the benefits of collaborations between GenAI founders and major corporations, which provide extensive systems and data. And Vietnamese corporations have policies to foster partnerships with start-ups.

Though the US and China have a technological infrastructure advantage in AI, Việt Nam can still compete in application development.

Valerie Vũ, founder of Ansible Ventures, believes in the country’s talented engineers' potential to create impactful AI applications. Việt Nam’s high-quality human resources excel in both software and hardware development, setting it apart.

Founders from innovative markets like the US and Singapore are interested in Việt Nam, seeking partnerships and envisioning global tech corporations supporting the country’s AI industry, Valerie said, adding that Việt Nam’s start-ups are already making strides in AI, with significant potential for growth with backing from global tech giants.

A choppy road

However, Việt Nam is still facing challenges in developing AI comprehensively, such as policy frameworks, infrastructure and limited access to supportive resources for domestic solution founders.

To ensure AI's integration into every corner of life and contribute to the country's socioeconomic development, strong support is required.

This entails effective policies, highly applicable products, high-quality human resources, robust data infrastructure, computing capabilities and intensified international collaboration with top AI research and development entities worldwide.

These factors will not only enhance work efficiency but also elevate the quality of life for individuals.

While the ultimate potential of GenAI may not yet be fully known, its undeniable impact on management, the labour market, professions and daily work is substantial.

It is crucial for businesses to make the topic a top priority in 2024 and the coming years. It represents an opportunity for significant advancement or the risk of falling behind. — VNS