NIC providing innovation launchpad

October 27, 2023 | 10:22
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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.
NIC providing innovation launchpad
NIC providing innovation launchpad, Source: NIC

In the last days of October, thousands of people will gather at Hoa Lac High-Tech Park in Hanoi to celebrate the inauguration of a National Innovation Centre (NIC) facility there, and enjoy hundreds of tech shows. Involved will be representatives from major corporations from both Vietnam and overseas, while some will be made up of young startups that have been supported by the NIC and its Vietnam Innovation Network (VIN) over the last few years.

For Digman, specialising in 3D printing, working with the NIC at its Cau Giay office became a turning point for the young startup. After three years of operation, Digman boasts more than 100 industrial 3D printers and has had over 2,000 customers thus far.

“Digman’s goal is to increase capacity 10 times by 2025, thanks to support from NIC’s various resources,” said founder and director Nguyen Van Hung.

Elsewhere, founded by a member of the VIN, Earable Neuroscience’s FRENZ Brainband was the first Vietnamese product to win an innovation award at the Consumer Electronic Show earlier this year for the wearable category, and is seen as a breakthrough device for the global neurotechnology industry.

“The product has helped more than 1,000 people fall asleep 57 per cent faster on average, while AI and machine learning algorithms are constantly being improved to understand users,” founder Tam Vu said.

Vu believes that Vietnamese people can take the lead in the world’s innovation trends. That is why he gave up his work at US universities and returned to Vietnam after completing the last two rounds of fundraising. The company has earned a total amount of $8.2 million from top investors and was welcomed by the NIC since in 2022.

The VIN was established with the goal of connecting the world’s top Vietnamese sci-tech experts to attract and effectively use innovative resources for socioeconomic development and Industry 4.0.

The move was deemed an important one as Nguyen Ba Diep, founder of e-wallet MoMo, said there are always thousands of challenges in the first days of starting a company’s business. In 2007, MoMo was built by only four people and four servers.

“With the presence of NIC and VIN, startups are more likely to succeed. If MoMo had this advantage at the beginning, it would have taken only one-third of the time to reach its current scale,” Diep said. “This is a great opportunity for startups to collaborate and associate with larger entities.”

Diep added that human resources plays a key role in all cases, being both executor and beneficiary. So the role of NIC and VIN is essential to supply plenty of resources for businesses, and even calling for talent from abroad to contribute to the country.

“Additionally, to further strengthen innovation and startups in Vietnam, we need more incentives for them, such as tax incentives for corporates/investors when they transfer capital,” Diep suggested.

Vu Quoc Huy, director of the NIC under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said that the NIC is coordinating all resources to support and promote Vietnam’s innovative businesses by working with investment funds, financial institutions, and in supporting capital raising and premises for startups from the early stages.

“Necessary resources such as finance, laboratories, production areas, human resources, and work space will be a launchpad for innovative businesses like Earable Neuroscience, Digman, and others to accelerate the process of developing new products and business models, reaffirming Vietnamese intelligence on the world innovation map,” Huy said.

NIC providing innovation launchpad

The NIC has already built an innovation ecosystem that includes the state, businesses, and VIN. From 100 members in the early days, the VIN has gathered more than 2,000 members from 20 countries and territories in the world.

“If counting those who are not officially VIN members, the number could be up to 10,000. This is an invaluable resource if we can call on them to return to Vietnam or support the country remotely,” Huy added.

Yu Jae Wook, chief representative of SK Group in Hanoi, said that for global conglomerates, innovation plays a key role in their development, while Vietnam reports progress and is emerging as an active factor in innovation worldwide thanks to better conditions. “Investors have confidence in predictable policies to make the decision to set up here. Since 2018, for example, SK Group has poured more than $3.5 billion into key areas,” Wook said.

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By Hara Nguyen

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