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Two weeks ago, Enterprise Singapore, the Singaporean governmental agency championing enterprise development, announced the expansion of its Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) network to Ho Chi Minh City, plugging Singaporean technology startups into the emerging innovation scene in Vietnam.
Enterprise Singapore, Quest Ventures, and Saigon Innovation Hub inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to boost collaboration between Singaporean startups and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their counterparts in Vietnam. Under the MoU, the three partners will organise programmes to introduce such startups to the innovation ecosystem in Ho Chi Minh City, and connect them to partners, investors, and customers in Vietnam.
“This will help Singaporean startups set up, test-bed, and commercialise their solutions, as well as form business partnerships in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam as a whole. It will also support Vietnamese startups to set up in Singapore,” Enterprise Singapore said in a statement.
The agency’s CEO Png Cheong Boon stated that the GIA, which has connected Singapore with 10 innovation hubs globally, aims to connect the city-state with more major innovation and startup hubs globally, including Vietnam as the 11th innovation hub in the world.
“Today, Vietnam is one of Asia’s fastest-growing hubs for startups and innovation, with a growing number of startups already attracting investors from Singapore and across the region,” Boon said. “In 2018, Vietnamese startups attracted close to $900 million in funding, more than three times that in 2017. Similarly, Singaporean-based equivalents attracted $7.7 billion of funding, approximately three times that in 2017.”
Targeted to commence in September, the first cohort of the programme will involve 10 Singaporean startups, with another two runs of the programme expected to take place over the next 12 months.
Currently, via the GIA and some other initiatives, Singapore is supporting its companies to deploy smart solutions in overseas markets, with Vietnam one of the key destinations.
|Vietnam is co-operating with Singapore in innovation, smart cities, and e-government development|
At a meeting between Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and ASEAN journalists a year ago in Singapore, Sing told VIR that Singapore is boosting co-operation with nations including Vietnam in innovation, smart cities, and e-government development.
“For Vietnam to boost the development of these areas, the country should apply ICT achievements which will help businesses access data from governmental agencies transparently,” Sing suggested. “All investors want a predictable and transparent business climate because they have to consider how effective their investments will be.”
Singapore has become a major global hub for innovation. Five years ago, it launched its Smart Nation Initiative, investing $1.6 billion in developing a national system of sensor networks and supporting communications infrastructure. The city-state also invested another $2.8 billion in the initiative in 2016, extending Wi-Fi coverage to every public school, increasing the government’s data storage capacity, and providing all public servants with laptops.
During the recent ministerial meeting on economic connectivity between Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung and Minister Sing, the two ministers agreed that besides the six existing co-operation areas of finance, education and training, transport, ICT, investment, and trade and services, the two sides will add innovation and technology as a seventh co-operation sector as a new priority in the context of Industry 4.0.
Both nations will develop action plans with specific joint projects. The Singaporean side suggested riveting co-operation in education and training associated with technology. Notably, Singapore will provide 50-100 scholarships for outstanding Vietnamese students to study at its leading technology universities.
Minister Dung also introduced Vietnam’s Hanoi-based National Innovation Centre (NIC) and called for investment in Industry 4.0 projects in the country. He said the NIC is expected to push Vietnam’s economic growth, with a priority on the sectors of smart factories, the digital economy, cybersecurity, urban areas, and environmental technology.
Minister Dung also worked with NUS Enterprise, a research division under the National University of Singapore, and its unit Block 71 and Block 79, proposing that they co-operate with the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in deploying the country’s Industry 4.0 strategy and the NIC. The partnership is part of bilateral co-operation between the Vietnamese and Singaporean governments.
“The minister has also proposed multi-party co-operation between Block 71, Block 79, and Vietnam’s universities and enterprises, with the MPI acting as a co-ordinator. This will be implemented throughout Vietnam, but first will be at the NIC,” Pham Hoang Mai, head of the MPI’s Department for Science, Education, Natural Resources and Environment (DSENRE), told VIR.
In fact, Block 71 has been implementing some activities in Vietnam such as forging contacts with Hanoi National University, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, and Ho Chi Minh City National University.
Notably, the DSENRE signed an MoU with the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) on enhancing the economic and commercial relations between Vietnam and Singapore in general, and between SMF and DSENRE in particular.
Under the MoU, the SMF shall select pathfinders from its local and overseas networks who may be able to assist the NIC in attracting multinational companies to set up factories in hi-tech parks in Vietnam.
The SMF will also support in promoting the NIC to relevant Singaporean innovation centres and business associations, universities, and organisations such as NUS Enterprises, NTU Innovation Centre, and A*STAR.
Furthermore, the SMF will also assist in promoting the NIC to leading ASEAN institutions and organisations, recommending venture capitalists and funding institutions to NIC for collaborations.
“The most important result is that we have turned innovation into a key new co-operation pillar between Vietnam and Singapore,” DSENRE’s Mai stressed.
During a recent meeting in Hanoi between Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and SMF president Douglas Foo, PM Phuc said, “Singapore’s innovative and creative models are significant to Vietnam. Innovation, creativity, and technological incubators are new to Vietnam and can help spur the country’s development.”
Foo stated that now is a “golden time” for Vietnam and Singapore to deepen hi-tech co-operation. Singaporean companies are transforming themselves with a key focus laid on innovation, which will help Vietnamese counterparts in the application of new business models and expand their operations overseas.
At the 32nd ASEAN Summit in Singapore on April 2018, bloc leaders established the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) proposed by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Under the ASCN, the development covers sectors including transport, water quality, energy, healthcare, education, public services, and more. An impressive 26 cities in the ASEAN have joined the ASCN, including Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City from Vietnam.
These cities will link up with private sector solution providers to kick-start commercially viable projects with tangible outcomes. They will also pair up with specific external partners on a voluntary basis, as well as form mutually beneficial partnerships to drive smart city development.
The cities have already taken concrete steps to harness smart solutions in various domains. Hanoi’s iParking app makes vacant parking lot information available at drivers’ fingertips and allows them to pay for parking with just a few clicks. Meanwhile, Danang has made use of data to assess climate change risks and shape relevant strategies.
Lim Teng Leng, deputy director of the Centre for Liveable Cities under Singapore’s Ministry of National Development said, “The cities have put forth ambitious plans for the near future, such as Danang’s intelligent traffic control system to reduce congestion and improve logistical efficiency, and Ho Chi Minh City’s Integrated and Unified Emergency Response Centre to centrally co-ordinate and respond to emergency situations.”