FIRST Project given good grades for fostering innovation

08:57 | 05/03/2020 Science - Technology

(VEN) - After six years of implementation, the Fostering Innovation through Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Project has achieved or exceeded its targets, contributing to the impetus of science, technology and innovation (STI) development in Vietnam.

first project given good grades for fostering innovation
World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Ousman Dione (left) visits a pavilion of FIRST achievements

World Bank gives FIRST satisfactory ranking

On July 25, 2013, Vietnam and the World Bank (WB) signed a grant agreement for FIRST. After being approved by the President, the project was implemented from 2014 to December 31, 2019. The US$110-million project supported STI in Vietnam by designing and piloting STI policies, enhancing the effectiveness of project-aided research and development (R&D) institutions, and encouraging the development of innovative technology enterprises.

At a recent FIRST review meeting, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Ousman Dione said FIRST realized all its commitments and the World Bank gave it a satisfactory ranking. The project has built a solid foundation and created favorable conditions for future innovation.

Project participants took the initiative and worked with the leadership of the Ministry of Science and Technology in finding solutions, contributing to the project’s success, Ousman Dione said. The project’s achievements are important for Vietnam’s innovation ecosystem, he said.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Pham Cong Tac said FIRST is the first STI project funded by the World Bank in Vietnam. Although the project faced certain difficulties, as it experienced many new policies on cooperation between domestic and foreign STI individuals and organizations and formed different training facility-institute-business joint ventures, FIRST obtained impressive achievements. Through FIRST, smaller projects have made significant contributions to and opened up a new chapter of STI and socioeconomic development in Vietnam.

Impressive achievements

FIRST connected Vietnam with more than 600 foreign scientists, including more than 100 scientists in direct cooperation in Vietnam. Under the project, 30 overseas Vietnamese scientists returned to Vietnam to transfer more than 70 technological processes, provided advanced training and shared advanced research methods with their colleagues in the country. The program attracted 77 privately-owned projects totaling almost VND400 billion in capital, which have created 50 new products with a high added value.

After FIRST ended, businesses invested an additional VND1 trillion to expand production facilities. They registered intellectual property rights for 108 inventions, industrial designs, utility solutions, plant varieties, and software, including two inventions certified and registered in the US. FIRST assisted 16 state-owned scientific and technological organizations to improve their laboratories, including 10 advanced laboratories with ISO and VILAS certifications. The project provided intensive training for more than 150 Vietnamese scientists in modern laboratories in the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, Israel, and Chinese Taipei, and generated 105 international articles.

Erik Arnold, Chairman of Technopolis Group said FIRST the project was extremely successful and impressive. However, Vietnam needs to promote cooperation between training and research facilities and businesses if it is to strengthen innovation. Innovation is related to scientific and creative outputs, making relations between participating parties necessary. Without that, he explained, it would be like building half a bridge.

After the FIRST project, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the World Bank pledged to continue strengthening cooperation to make innovation activities a driving force for Vietnam economy’s development.

Quynh Nga