A startup story: The value of Vietnamese Sarmentosa

14:31 | 13/10/2019 Science - Technology

(VEN) - In Vietnam, sarmentosa is among the wild plants in coastal areas of localities such as Quang Ninh, Nam Dinh, Nghe An and Ben Tre. It is used mostly for food but is little known as a medicinal herb that can help protect and improve human health. Therefore, Vietnam still lacks an official plan to promote the planting of sarmentosa for medical use. The Vietnam Sarmentosa Joint Stock Company has become the first company in the world to research, conserve and promote the development of this plant. The company was present in the semifinal round of Techfest 2018 - the biggest annual event for the Vietnamese innovative startup community. Vietnam Economic News’ Yen Le spoke with Phu Tuong Nguyen Dung, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company.

the value of vietnamese sarmentosa

What difficulties and favorable conditions did the company encounter in the process of starting a business with sarmentosa? Did state policies help the company overcome these difficulties?

The Vietnam Sarmentosa Joint Stock Company has been recognized as a sci-tech business. We conduct research to find the best solutions to use the country’s natural resources to create quality products and honor Vietnam’s valuable medicinal herbs. It took us much time and money to start our business. We went to different places across the country to study the sarmentosa from each region and found that the plant’s pharmaceutical ingredients vary from one region to another. During the initial time, I even had to sell my personal assets to maintain the company’s operations without any incomes.

Today, we are one of the 346 sci-tech companies nationwide. Our studies have been highly appreciated by international scientists. The IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering (Scopus) magazine has accepted to introduce our studies in the near future. Our company’s sarmentosa planting areas have been certified as meeting VietGAP standards, and our production facilities have received ISO and HACCP certifications. We will launch a number of supplementary products extracted from sarmentosa and other kinds of Vietnamese medicinal herbs, such as BronSAM (for bronchial health), NeuroSAM (for brain health), ColoSAM (good for the digestion system), SulinSAM (for diabetes patients), BoJoSAM (for strong bones and joints), BeautySAM (a skin care product), LiverSAM (for liver detoxification), and PowerSAM Energize (strengthening physiological health). We have also created skin care cosmetics for women, with active elements extracted from sarmentosa and other Vietnamese medicinal herbs.

Project 844 of the Ministry of Science and Technology and Government Decree 13/2019/ND-CP has enabled us to benefit from a number of state policies to support startups in the field of science and technology. However, these policies should be disseminated through the media. A circular should also be issued to guide the implementation of the government decree.

Could you share the company’s plan to expand its market in the context of fierce competition between Vietnamese sarmentosa and similar plants grown in other countries?

The success of a company requires joint efforts and strong determination of all members. The Vietnam Sarmentosa Joint Stock Company requires all members to have good knowledge of the market and consumer demand, while at the same time maintaining good relations with partners. We are willing to learn and apply new technologies in production and management, as well as in research activities, to create new values for our products. Our company has worked out specific plans and strategies to promote its development in the short and long term. Our goal is to become a specialist in research and production of healthcare products, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics using Vietnamese medicinal herbs, contributing to promoting Vietnamese brands in the global market.

What will the company do to promote its development in the coming period?

We will continue improving our management system as well as production and research activities. At the same time, we will transfer sarmentosa planting techniques to farmers and build a sarmentosa planting village in Ben Tre to attract tourists. Along with expanding the distribution network, we will franchise our brand. Marketing activities and communications will be intensified to make our products present in the global market.

Yen Le