Vietnamese start-up eco-system fastest growing in ASEAN

Update: December, 04/2019 - 08:47


Phạm Hồng Quất, head of the National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation Development

Việt Nam News talks to Phạm Hồng Quất, head of the National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology, about Techfest 2019 and the Vietnamese innovative start-up eco-system.

How do you assess the changes to the Vietnamese innovative start-up eco-system over the past few years?

The Vietnamese innovative start-up eco-system has witnessed a boom in not only traditional sectors such as logistics and e-commerce but also new and difficult sectors like health, training and agriculture.

A number of big corporations in these sectors are interested in the start-up eco-system. There are investment funds, mentors and innovative start-up spaces for young people. The involvement of big corporations in innovative start-ups is a growing trend in ASEAN and other countries around the world, helping it to grow faster and more sustainably.

Việt Nam has made changes to mechanisms and policies to attract domestic and foreign investors. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has listened to the domestic and foreign communities to propose plans to the Government to improve these mechanisms. A lot of ministries and sectors have also proposed sound policies and projects to call for investment from the community, and improve licensing procedures and the investment climate.

However, when I met with investors in Singapore and South Korea, they said Vietnamese procedures for investors still needed to be improved. Other countries have specific mechanisms to license investments in innovative start-ups. Capital withdrawal and capital concessions also involve different mechanisms than normal investments.

Việt Nam needs more labs located at educational institutes and localities for start-ups to test their products. The issuance of licences to test new products also needs to be accelerated.

A bright spot for the Vietnamese start-up eco-system is the private and public sectors have worked together to organise start-up events, and taken start-ups overseas so they have a chance to participate in contests and call for investment.

The number of domestic and foreign start-up investment funds has increased significantly.

In the eyes of investors, Việt Nam is emerging as one of the most actively-growing start-up eco-systems in ASEAN, jumping from seventh to third in only one year. Other statistics on innovation have also climbed.

If we improve the investment climate and adventure capital market, for sure, Việt Nam will be able to achieve more and Vietnamese start-ups will be fuelled to grow faster.

What are the major goals of the national innovative start-up day at Techfest 2019?

Under the theme ‘Việt Nam: Globalise’, the major goal is to bring as many as sources to Việt Nam as possible. They include manpower, technology and finance.

We will focus on human resources, intelligence, experience, coaches and investors.

We will also look at bringing technology-based solutions and business models to Việt Nam, especially those created by Vietnamese people studying abroad. Vietnamese scientists and businesses across the world will act as a bridge to bring those technologies to Việt Nam.

We hope that not only adventure investment funds but also corporations, groups and angel investors from ASEAN will support Vietnamese investors to connect with foreign investors to create an ASEAN capital market for regional innovative start-ups.

Techfest 2019’s targets are recommendations for Việt Nam when the country will assume the ASEAN Chairmanship next year because the topic of innovative start-ups will attract a lot of investors at ASEAN 2020 meetings.

Attracting domestic and foreign capital is one of the targets Techfest 2019 and Vietnamese start-ups are looking for. What plans are there for the National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation Development and the MoST in general to encourage investment in Vietnamese start-ups?

It is important to have specific mechanisms for investors. The Law on Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises has proposed mechanisms for investment organisations, funds and companies. Individuals or angel investors also need mechanisms such as tax exemptions and licence issuance. Mechanisms for auditing and accounting need to be more specific and relevant for adventure investment.

Regional countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are improving these mechanisms.

The MoST will receive feedback from investors and experts and submit regular reports to the Government and the Prime Minister so they can assign ministries, agencies and local authorities to pilot specific mechanisms, make amendments to the laws and issue the necessary legal documents for start-up investments. — VNS