Vietnam promotes open innovation

November 09, 2023 | 11:58
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Learning from the development of the open innovation ecosystem model in Finland, the US, Singapore, and South Korea, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) is encouraging corporations to connect international resources to allow startups, research institutes, and universities to innovate. Pham Hong Quat, director general of the National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation Development (NATEC), spoke to VIR’s Bich Thuy about these efforts.

Open Innovation Day 2023 on October 25 was the first step to opening up the open innovation ecosystem model in Vietnam. What were your expectations for the event?

Vietnam promotes open innovation
Pham Hong Quat, director general of NATEC

Open Innovation Day is an initiative to connect the innovative startup community, in which the focus is on the connections between businesses, government agencies, universities, international organisations, startups, and other problem-solving units.

From a broader perspective, we want to promote a culture of open innovation, cooperation, and collaboration to maximise the mutual benefit.

The general message we sent was to work together to make innovation a driving force and a mindset to help us move forward. Whatever type of organisation we are, we all need to innovate.

For corporations and businesses, let's unlock the chance to cooperate, invest, and partner with innovative startups, bringing practical value to the community.

For startup businesses, institutes, and universities, we must constantly think and solve practical problems, turning difficulties into opportunities.

And for the innovation community, we should promote and attract young talent, share opportunities and information, and develop together in the true spirit of open innovation. This is the best way to mobilise the available resources to create new value ​​and resources for the ecosystem.

Are there any successful case studies of open innovation in Vietnam, and what is the key to their success?

The open innovation ecosystem has been applied very successfully in Finland, the US, Singapore, South Korea, and elsewhere. In Vietnam, we have also made great efforts to encourage businesses to learn from and cooperate with startups.

For example, Intraco Group is currently collaborating with us on a $1-million challenge to find innovative solutions to capture carbon from the air, working towards achieving the goal of net-zero emissions.

Elsewhere, Qualcomm has very successfully been implementing the Qualcomm Vietnam Innovation Challenges, finding many good startups to incubate, support, and integrate into the group's activities. Some other corporations, such as Saigontel and TNG, are also very actively learning and coordinating.

The principal factor in the positivity and success of such cases is first and foremost the open thinking of business leaders. Open thinking and innovation enhance the need to search and cooperate with outside units and organisations, always looking for new business models, new products, and new services to integrate into existing systems.

It would not be too surprising to see some corporations looking to carbon-neutral business models, blockchain, and AI to solve their challenges, and then transferring these solutions into green industrial parks.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the local innovation startup ecosystem, and what will the MoST do to facilitate its future development?

We have been cooperating with many domestic and foreign partners, especially international organisations that are supporting and promoting open innovation activities such as the Asian Development Bank, Business Finland, the UN Development Programme, Enterprise Singapore, SGinnovate, and others.

It is true that we are still in the early stages, but there are also many positive signals. Many enterprises have been transforming themselves, and the need for innovation is greater than ever in the quest to expand market share, venture into new areas, and create fresh revenue sources.

At this initial stage, perhaps the biggest bottleneck we need to remove relates to open thinking and trust. Open thinking makes businesses more willing to cooperate with each other, while trust is vital to bring action.

With hundreds of thousands of businesses operating in a growing economy like Vietnam, I believe that the needs, challenges, and problems are many. The key thing is to have pioneers, model stories, and good practices to promote this open thinking and trust.

However, there needs to be a community, an elite team of both international and domestic advisors to provide support and turn the ideas into practical products and solutions.

Open Innovation Day was created for that purpose, to connect resources and different parties in the most effective way.

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By Bich Thuy

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