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|A delegate of Enterprise Singapore worked with the Ministry of Planning and Investment on innovation and technology co-operation|
As one of the Singaporeans who visited Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) 14 years ago to begin bilateral economic connectivity between the two countries, Peter Ong, chairman of Enterprise Singapore (the Singaporean government agency championing enterprise development), has been delighted to contribute to the achievements of bilateral co-operation. Now, returning to the MPI with 10 experts and entrepreneurs of innovation, Ong claimed that innovation and technology are the new areas in which Singapore wants to co-operate with Vietnam.
“The delegation of Enterprise Singapore to Vietnam this time involves representatives from research centres and training facilities. They can support Vietnam’s National Innovation Centre (NIC) project with human resources and 4.0 strategies,” Ong said.
Located at the Hoa Lac High-tech Park, the NIC headquarters will cost about $74 million, which will come from local and foreign firms, not from the state budget.
Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Duc Trung stated that his ministry will suggest an agency to work with the Singaporean side regarding workforce training. For the operation and management of the NIC, “We hope to learn experience from Singapore,” he stressed.
Besides this, he also expressed Vietnam's wish to connect the two countries’ startup ecosystems.
Ong said, “Each country has its own development and demand. Singaporean agencies will be able to adjust solutions to suit Vietnam’s situation.”
Soon after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc agreed to speed up the building of the NIC, Vietnam and Singapore have taken part in many activities to promote co-operation.
During an official visit to Vietnam earlier this year, Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean proposed that the two sides should promote creative spaces for businesses, particularly young entrepreneurs and startups, while Vietnam’s prime minister called for co-operation in innovation and technology from Singapore.
At the connecting conference for the two economies in March, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung and Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing agreed to add innovation and technology as the seventh field of collaboration as a priority. The Singaporean side suggested reforming co-operation in education and training associated with technology. Singapore will provide 50-100 scholarships for outstanding Vietnamese students to study at its leading technology universities.
Vietnam has asked Singapore to join efforts to implement new initiatives in the agreement on economic connectivity and encourage Singaporean businesses to put forth new co-operation proposals and increase investment in the country.
At the conference, the ministry’s Department of Science, Education, and Natural Resources and Environment signed an MoU with the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) to enhance business and project opportunities in high-tech parks, with SMF member companies and businesses to promote innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Vietnam.
Recognising the important role of entrepreneurship and innovation over the past two decades, the Singaporean government has invested in programmes to encourage entrepreneurship in technology. During that process, Enterprise Singapore has helped members overcome the challenges of Industry 4.0, built trust of Singaporean products and services, and brought global opportunities to enterprises, turning Singapore into an innovation and startup hub.
As the leader of a prestigious training facility in Singapore, Hee Joh Liang, chairman of Singapore Polytechnic International Pte., Ltd., said, “The most important issue for Singapore when building its 4.0 strategy is not to leave labourers behind. That’s why we built the Skills for Future programme.”
In his opinion, human resources always play an important role in the economy, particularly in the context of Industry 4.0. “We tried to work out how to improve our workforce. That’s why we visited developed countries like Germany and Switzerland to find out why they are so successful and the answer is skills,” Liang said. According to him, along with a lot of skill frameworks for the labour force, the Singaporean government also works with SMEs to understand their situation and their demand.
“We help enterprises with what Industry 4.0 is and where they are, what they need to do to reach 4.0, and showing them what skills their employers lack, based on the government’s skill frameworks,” Liang added.
Meanwhile, according to Ong, the most important thing after workforce is helping companies transform and overcome the fear of using technologies. “It took us a long time to change the mindsets of both enterprises and workers on this. We have proven to enterprises and their people that they can do it and they will be successful,” Ong explained. “Before giving out detailed training programmes, we also helped labourers and enterprises to be more confident and comfortable to move forward in Industry 4.0."
Ong also said that Singapore has built an ecosystem where connection among enterprises and research centres is very tight. Ong gave the example of JTC LaunchPad, a site over six acres which offers a nurturing environment for startups in Singapore. This environment has helped them have the chance to share and learn from each other through common use of equipment and workshops.
Trung of the MPI has been impressed with Singapore’s good preparations for development. He expressed his strong wish to attain support and practical experience from the city-state. “Singapore’s models have been completed and are operating well while Vietnam’s is currently in the ideation phase,” Trung said.
Mentioning the fields that the NIC is to focus on – smart manufacturing with increasing automation; smart cities; environmental technologies; digital media; and network security applications – Trung stated that it is not easy to build projects to transform all industries in Vietnam. “Skills for the future are important but challenging for Vietnam, whose economic scale is not huge, particularly when most of the workforce is untrained.”