IPP’s focus areas for 2016 and beyond

IPP2 has recently updated its strategy based on needs in the Vietnamese innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The program has been in full operation for 11 months and has been engaging with the ecosystem through various events, hands-on work with 22 innovation projects and 12 innovation coaches as well as supporting the Ministry of Science and Technology MOST with the drafting of key policy documents related to innovation and support for growth companies. The IPP is an innovation program and, by nature, it moves on in a flexible and agile way.

IPP’s activities so far

  • 18 new innovative growth company projects and 4 innovation system development projects supported with seed grants as well as training, coaching and networks in the Innovation Accelerator Program (IAP)
  • Training of Trainers (ToT) program organised for 12 innovation coaches
  • Core curriculum on innovation and entrepreneurship initiated and tested in the above training programs
  • Institutional and policy support
Focus for 2016-2017

  • Further grant support for most successful teams in the 2015 project portfolio
  • New grant call for startup ecosystem development projects
  • Call for universities and other educational organisations for developing their innovation and entrepreneurship training, ecosystem building and related offering
  • Extra effort to support the Danang and Can Tho ecosystems
  • Institutional and policy support

The co-chairs of IPP’s Steering Committee, MOST Vice Minister Mr Tran Quoc Khanh and Mr Marko Saarinen, Head of Development Cooperation from the Embassy of Finland, explain the main strategy updates.

Emphasis on ecosystem building

“In 2015, the IPP2 has been successfully demonstrating and showcasing mechanisms for supporting high-growth entrepreneurship in Vietnam. It has built a transparent and well-functioning process for attracting, screening and evaluating innovation project proposals, as well as providing phased grant support and practical training for the selected innovation projects,” states Mr Saarinen.

The program has so far supported 18 new innovative company and 4 ecosystem development projects. The showcase portfolio of 18 companies is sufficient for the purposes of IPP2, Mr Saarinen continues. “The IPP-supported company projects are advancing well and some of them will potentially prove to be international success stories. There are many more promising companies in Vietnam. What these companies need to prosper is coaching, mentorship and money. IPP can only support a handful of companies, but hopes to catalyze further support from other programs and funding bodies that can make use of the lessons learnt from the support that IPP has been delivering.”

IPP2 will be providing a larger grant for the most potential projects in its current portfolio in early 2016. Another main effort will be put on those providing and developing support services for innovative companies. “Listening to the needs of the ecosystem and working hands-on with 4 system development consortiums has underlined that in order for the IPP to maximise its impact, the program should focus on working closely with these types of projects – with accelerators, incubators and other programs that will in the future be able to provide grant, training and other support for young innovative companies in Vietnam,” Vice Minister Khanh elaborates. In 2016 and beyond, the IPP2 will be focusing on helping ecosystem developers with the aim of creating sustainable, dense and internationally linked support structures for growth companies in IPP’s four focus regions: Danang, Can Tho, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. IPP will invest extra effort to Danang and Can Tho where the startup ecosystems are in their early stages.

Adding efforts to innovation capabilities  

A key tool for innovation system development on all levels is capacity building. The program has so far been working on a practical innovation and entrepreneurship core curriculum which has been tested and refined in a Training of Trainers Program for 12 innovation coaches and in the Innovation Accelerator Program for the 22 selected projects and broader community. Delivering this curriculum has confirmed the program’s prior understanding that the concepts, learning and teaching techniques and practical exercises are much needed in Vietnam to increase the generation of new innovations, successful startups and other stakeholders in the Vietnamese national innovation system. Introducing the core curriculum to educational organisations in Vietnam will be a core task for IPP in 2016-2017.  

“Many Vietnamese universities that are currently developing their innovation and entrepreneurship training and broader I&E offering are looking for support in the process. We can see clear demand for new types of practical training programs that can increase universities’ output to industry and collaboration with entrepreneurial communities. IPP2 will work to respond to these demands by establishing  a close collaboration with selected universities and other educational organisations,” explains Vice Minister Khanh. “The program’s target is to multiply this type of practical I&E training in Vietnam, which is why it will work with several partners and also provide open-source content for the benefit of wider public,” Mr Saarinen adds. Also on the capacity building side the program will continue to provide training and coaching to its innovation projects and further institutional and capacity building support for MOST.

Implementation of updated plans – launch of two calls

IPP’s Programme Director Ms Tran Thi Thu Huong and Chief Technical Adviser Mr Lauri Laakso speak about how these new focused plans will be implemented in the program next year. “In short, IPP2 will launch two calls in the next few months. First a grant call for ecosystem development consortiums, later a collaboration and technical assistance call for universities and other training institutions,” Ms Huong explains. “Similarly to IPP’s calls in early 2015, we will first launch a pre-call marketing round – a request for “Expressions of Interest” – during which we will engage with interested parties through events and active communication. After this, the actual Call for Proposals will be launched and it will be followed by an evaluation conducted by an external board of international and local experts,” Mr Laakso continues. The planned schedule for the two calls is below:

Grant Call for Ecosystem Development Consortium Projects

  • Call for Expressions of Interest and marketing events in 4 cities: Hanoi, HCMC, Danang, Cantho: late November 2015 – January 2016
  • Call for Proposals: January – March 2016

Call for Universities and Other Education Organisations for the Development of I&E Training Programs and Offering

  • Call for Expressions of Interest and marketing events in 4 cities: late November 2015 – March 2016
  • Call for Proposals: April – May 2016

And beyond…

As for work until the program’s end in 2018, the co-chairs conclude that focus will remain in creating sustainable, long-lasting impact for the Vietnamese national innovation system. The ecosystem and capacity building activities of 2016-2017 contribute directly to this end. “In addition, an important target is to further fortify the STI collaboration with Finland and Vietnam”, Vice Minister Khanh underlines. “Finland and Vietnam have more than 40 years of development cooperation history between them. Vietnam has made impressive progress in its socio-economic development in the past decades, and the nature of the relationship between the two countries is now in transition from aid to trade and other mutually beneficial cooperation. The current bilateral cooperation and programs like IPP2 also support the building of strong networks and partnerships in this new phase. This phase is filled with opportunities for both countries, their businesses, universities and innovators”, says Marko Saarinen.

“The IPP2 is warmly welcoming Finnish experts, companies, universities and entrepreneurial communities to engage in its activities. The time to enter the Vietnamese market is now – there are a lot of opportunities emerging fast, the startup ecosystem is really beginning to boom, market barriers are decreasing and IPP2 is here to help bridge Finnish and Vietnamese needs,” encourages Mr Laakso.

Innovative teams, innovation practitioners and organisations interested in partnering with IPP are very welcomed to contact our staff through info@ipp.vn.