NIC fulfilling promise with wide-ranging programmes

November 02, 2023 | 17:19
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Vietnam’s National Innovation Centre has created a solid launch pad for startups to develop new technology nationwide.
NIC fulfilling promise with wide-ranging programmes
The NIC building in Hanoi is now a hive of activity for innovation and more

Tech startup Phygital Labs, founded by former Google engineers Huy Nguyen and Nam Do, made its public debut in early October. At the launch event, the company showcased its cutting-edge solutions designed to revolutionise the identification of physical items.

The event saw the participation of Nguyen Thi Ngoc Dung, formerly chief representative at the Office for Science and Technology of the Consulate General of Vietnam in San Francisco, and now senior expert in research and development for the Entrepreneurship Innovation Ecosystem under the National Innovation Centre (NIC).

Dung returned to Vietnam from Silicon Valley to work at the NIC, and this is part of the mission assigned by the government to woo young, qualified human resources to contribute to the country. Former Google engineer Huy Nguyen is one of 100 talents from Silicon Valley to return to Vietnam to start a business and participate in the Vietnam Innovation Network (VIN), established by the NIC in 2018.

Dung wants to share Silicon Valley culture with colleagues, managers, and policymakers in Vietnam, in the spirit of embracing and encouraging new technological experiments.

“When exposed to new technology, one must first have the ability to accept new things. Policymakers need to take a tolerant view of new tech. When it is born, it is already pioneering without right or wrong judgment. We should always be open to new technology with a spirit of tolerance and thinking outside the box,” Dung said.

In September, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh led a Vietnamese delegation to the US and held two working sessions with the Vietnamese community, one in Silicon Valley with the West Coast Innovation Network and one in New York with the East Coast equivalent.

The PM encouraged young intellectuals, especially tech talents in the US, to return to Vietnam to offer the country their knowledge and experience.

“The NIC’s ecosystem will create a high-quality startup network. Many funds and investors are looking to place money here, but they do not know where to put it. Thanks to the development of the NIC’s ecosystem, startups will enjoy a very favourable condition in the process of business development,” said Hanh Nguyen, co-founder of a skincare company and a permanent member of the VIN on the West Coast of the US.

One of the NIC’s missions is to develop high-quality human resources and the VIN in other countries in order to promote innovation and digital transformation. To date, the VIN is present across 20 countries and territories with over 1,600 Vietnamese experts and intellectuals.

Another startup, Smart Cyber Security (SCS), was founded by two former Bkav leaders, Ngo Tuan Anh and Vu Thanh Thang. The startup suffered from a difficult start and rented a substandard office for its headquarters. With the support of the NIC, the company has set up new offices in convenient locations with modern facilities and on-site amenities, creating an ideal workplace for engineers to unleash their creativity.

“Besides the coworking space and amenities favourable for research and development, SCS also benefits from the NIC’s support programmes, consulting, and training services for innovative startups, such as seminars and connections to help startups reach customers and investment funds,” said CEO Tuan Anh.

NIC director Vu Quoc Huy said that businesses in the ecosystem will have the opportunity to connect with investment funds and other businesses to expand their markets and improve their capacity. “In particular, startups will receive great support from the NIC’s programmes in cooperation with domestic and foreign partners such as ADB Ventures, Vietnam Venture Summit, Vietnam Innovation Challenge, and Google for Startups,” Huy said.

“Startups are the focus of the NIC’s innovation ecosystem. Therefore, it is vital to formulate support programmes and projects, creating conditions for startups to access capital sources from investment funds and financial institutions. Most startups have ideas, but they lack the financial resources to turn them into a reality,” Huy added.

The NIC has actively tied up with many relevant stakeholders to implement support programmes for innovative businesses and startups, including large international organisations such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Japan External Trade Organization, as well as tech giants such as Google, Meta, and Amazon.

As a result, businesses have the opportunity to learn more about major partners, especially tech partners. Notably, the partnership programme between NIC and USAID has supported capacity building for about 1,000 personnel, especially in digital technology, communication tech, big data, and blockchain.

NIC determined to remain at forefront of technology NIC determined to remain at forefront of technology

The semiconductor value chain is moving to Southeast Asia, and Vietnam has an advantage in the region, so fully welcomes all new opportunities. But unless semiconductor technology is fully mastered, the country will remain on the sidelines of core technology.

NIC providing innovation launchpad NIC providing innovation launchpad

The National Innovation Centre and its Vietnam Innovation Network are building a solid foundation for technology and innovation companies to develop more rapidly and go further.

By Tu An

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