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Sci-tech is no sci-fi for HCMC innovation focus

Mobilizing resources

Nguyen Viet Dung, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology, said the city has mobilized social investment capital for science, technology and innovation. During the 2016-2020 period, the city invested more than VND55 trillion in science and technology, while providing support for small- and medium-sized enterprises to improve productivity and quality. The speed of technology and equipment innovation reached 24 percent during the reviewed period. In addition, the city restructured scientific research programs and promoted technology application and transfer to serve industries, services and smart city projects.

The Ho Chi Minh City startup ecosystem is attracting increasing resources. The city currently has about 2,000 operating startups, accounting for 50 percent of the country’s total number.

Huynh Kim Tuoc, director of the Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB) under the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology, said that despite the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2021, investment in startups in Ho Chi Minh City reached about US$1.3 billion in 2021, an increase of 40 percent compared to a year ago, accounting for 60 percent and 70 percent of the country’s total value and deals, respectively. Ho Chi Minh City remained among the global top 10 most dynamic growing cities and top 200 global startup cities in 2021. So far, 124 businesses in the city have established their science and technology funds.

In fact, 98 percent of businesses in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City included, are micro- and small-sized. Therefore, the mechanism of the Fund of Science and Technology Development must be changed in order to attract more investment capital.

Promoting cooperation

Ho Chi Minh City plans to strengthen cooperation in the fields of smart cities, digital transformation, microchips, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, automation, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and life sciences, while promoting the effective implementation of the project on developing the Ho Chi Minh City startup ecosystem during the 2021-2025 period, with a focus on putting the Innovative Startup Center into operation. In addition, the city will form a network of startup support centers as a platform to connect and develop the ecosystem in key areas of digital transformation, AI application, financial technology, educational technology, healthcare and high-tech agriculture.

The Ministry of Science and Technology needs specific mechanisms and policies to support and connect universities and research institutes with businesses and promote product commercialization. Key issues in cooperation programs between the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ho Chi Minh City need to be resolved immediately to create clear changes, contributing to the overall development of the country and the city.

Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat said the central point of view is to put in practice science and technology, digital transformation and innovation, creating breakthroughs for local socioeconomic development. The Ministry of Science and Technology is also ready to test science and technology policies in Ho Chi Minh City.

Investment in innovative startups in Vietnam is expected to reach more than US$1 billion in 2022.

Thanh Thanh

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