During 23-28 October Embassy of Finland in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ministry of Science and Technology and Vietnam-Finland Innovation Partnership Programme – IPP organised the ‘HCMC Innovation Startup and Entrepreneurship Week 2017’ (WHISE 2017), opened by H.E Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto.
The Saigon Innovation Week, which included hundreds of innovative activities, was an opportunity to showcase Finnish solutions for smart and innovative city development.
Vietnam aims to have 1 million enterprises by 2020 according to its Startup Nation program. Being the leading city in Vietnam in economic development, Ho Chi Minh City has emphasized the importance of promoting startups, entrepreneurship, and innovation with a target of becoming a smart city and one of the most active startup hubs in Southeast Asia.
The highlight of the week was the Saigon Innovation Expo – the largest innovation event in Vietnam so far, featuring over 3,000 participants, hundreds of speakers and 200 participating exhibitors. This flagship event hosted three major interlinked events that highlighted its goal and purpose, including HATCH! FAIR the Fifth, Slush Global Impact Accelerator Mekong event (Slush GIA Mekong) and Solutions for Smart Cities – a Finland 100 event.
Hatch! Fair is one of the largest entrepreneurship conference and start-up exhibition in Vietnam.
Slush Global Impact Accelerator is a global initiative organized in cooperation between Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and its partners around the world to support newly founded companies which are trying to find solutions to global challenges and calling for investments in innovative and socially impactful companies. The local Slush GIA Mekong pitching event and conference covers the Mekong area countries, showcases the strongest impact companies and experts in the area and selects top start-ups to join the top-notch accelerator program and Slush 2017 in Helsinki.
Solutions for Smart Cities – a Finland 100 is built upon a newly agreed collaboration agenda between HCMC and Finland to promote the innovation ecosystem and build Finnish-Vietnamese business and innovation partnerships. The program aims to showcase top Finnish and other international solutions for city development and build upon strengthened collaboration between Finnish and Vietnamese city players and businesses.
This collaboration marked the strong partnership between HCMC and Finland to support the on-going shift from aid to trade in Finland-Vietnam relations as well to confirm Finland’s commitment to becoming a trusted and long-term partner to generate lasting impact in the Vietnamese innovation and business ecosystem. Furthermore, with the participation from HATCH! the event brought professionalism to a whole new level.
There, innovative solutions from Finland were showcased at the Finland100 booth.
Both the new Finnish companies and start-ups recently entering Vietnamese markets as well as Finnish companies already with a strong foothold in the country were operating under the same flag to give the Vietnamese audience an understanding of Finland’s exceptional offering in innovative technology and services.
Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and the Embassy of Finland in Vietnam also organised the opening ceremony for the expo and a seminar within the WHISE 2017 framework to honour organizations and individuals who contribute actively to innovation and the start-up ecosystem and introduce successful start/up models to the community. This also illustrates joint efforts between public and private sectors to promote start-up and innovation development in Ho Chi Minh City.
Shortly after the opening ceremony, the City People’s Committee and the Embassy of Finland in Vietnam co-hosted the event ‘Together with Finland’, which was co-implemented by Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology, Vietnam-Finland Innovation Partnership Program (IPP)and Hatch! Ventures Vietnam.
The 2-day event included a series of keynote speeches and panel discussions among over 30 experts, start-ups and innovation ecosystem developers from Ho Chi Minh City and cities of Finland such as Helsinki, Turku and Tampere on three topics including Education for Future, Smart City Solutions, and Start-up and Innovation Ecosystem Development. This event also served as an opportunity for Finnish companies to share experience and showcase their solutions.
This joint event marked a milestone in the collaboration between Ho Chi Minh City and Finland with the desire to share experiences and cooperation potentials in the City’s focused areas.
Other activities for the Finnish attendants: onsite visits, direct meetings and trade-connecting with Vietnamese partners for 18 Finnish companies from IPP’s Vietnam Market Access & Partnership (VMAP) Program took place during two days with the support of IPP’s Vietnamese Innovation consultants. This illustrated the tremendous potential for cooperation between Finland and Vietnam generally as well as Ho Chi Minh City particularly, reported IPP.
In the evening of October 27, 2017–within the 100th anniversary of the Finnish National Day organized by the Embassy of Finland–Mai Linh Group and Kyyti Corporation signed an MOU on technology transfer of a technical platform solution for mobility to manage the operation of the transportation system with better benefits to customers.
A dynamic internet market, Vietnam has a large tech-savvy youth population, over 30M smartphones in use and a target to increase internet access rate from today’s 53% to 90%. Vietnam is also rapidly integrating into global networks. Application of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is expected to begin in 2018.
Doing business in Vietnam requires time, commitment and local partners, but the opportunities are notable in various sectors where European enterprises have a global competitive advantage. The time is ideal for Finnish companies with tested and proven solutions related to, e.g., smart city development, traffic, environment, digitalisation, e-government, education, fintech, food safety, health, manufacturing, maritime, innovation ecosystems and so on, to tailor their offerings for Vietnam. The large cities of Vietnam are especially keen to see Finnish solutions on the ground that support smarter development within a city context. They are also very interested in collaborating with Finnish cities directly in areas of mutual interest, states IPP.
Finnish companies that took part:
Main Partners of the Embassy in the Finland100 centenary year: Kone Vietnam, Econet, WSP, Vaisala
Partners of the Embassy in the Finland100 centenary year: EduCluster Finland Oy, Valmet, Finnish Water Forum, RuSol, An Viet Phat, Cell Mark
Companies within the Vietnam Market Access Programme: Kyyti, Fuzu Platform, Tridify, Aion Sigma, Plugit Finland Oy, Solved – The Cleantech Company, KWS Timber Tech, LIFAair Oy Ltd., AirportCollege.com, Well Edu Fennica, Doranova, Arffman Consulting Oy, Babyfit – Suomi, CoReorient, EeraOy, Life Learn Holdings Pte, Omnia Education Partnerships, Solar Fire Concentration.
Also Team Finland, Finpro Vietnam, Finpro and Vietnam-Finland Innovation Partnership Programme – IPP.
IPP supports Vietnam’s overall goal of becoming an innovation-driven knowledge economy. The program’s objective is to generate lasting impact in the Vietnamese innovation ecosystem by supporting the scale-up of practices tested on the ground for entrepreneurship and innovation training in universities, financing innovative companies, and creating cross-border business.
Finland and Vietnam promote cooperation in trading and start/up ecosystem development.
In the upcoming time, through IPP and other Finnish agencies, Finland will promote the trade cooperation, investment and technology transfer with Vietnam, not limited to Ho Chi Minh City, but also with other provinces of Vietnam, especially on the Finland’s areas of strength such as education, information technology, communication, water management, agriculture and forestry, etc.