HCMC plans startup center and exchange

10:06 | 30/05/2017 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has for years sought to develop startup businesses, styling itself as a growing Silicone Valley type hub with a target of 2,000 new startups by 2020.  

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology launched a program to support innovations and startups

Official assistance for startup businesses

The Department of Science and Technology in Ho Chi Minh City recently held a seminar to guide startup businesses to apply for aid from the SpeedUp 2017 program in Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB).

SpeedUp 2017 launched by the Department in early January 2017 is a program to back startup people who can receive aid of up to VND2 billion ($87,977) during two years.

The program is designed to boost startup businesses launched in 2016. The Department organized the guidance seminar because so far only very a few startups have come to apply for the loans.

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has also assigned the Municipal Youth Union to manage a VND100 million Startup Assistance Fund. So far, 800 startup projects have had access to the fund. The union has also developed a nursery model to educate startup businesses and held an annual startup contest that received more than 500 startup ideas per year. Since 2014 the city has organized a program for each and every successful business to support a young person who has a startup idea.

In addition, the city has adopted various policies to provide assistance capital for startup businesses, such as interest-subsidized loans for 606 projects, apart from bank loans which amounted to VND281 trillion in 2016 and an expected VND300 trillion this year.

To facilitate startups, Ho Chi Minh City has launched 20 business nurseries, such as the Quang Trung Software Technology Business Nursery that has successfully “nursed” more than 20 projects.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology has also kicked off a program to support innovations and startups during the period from 2016-2020. The program focuses on engineering and automation, chemical-pharmacy, electronics and information technology, and biotechnology. The aid ceiling is VND2 billion per project.

Improving the startup ecosystem

According to Associate Prof. Dr. Mai Thanh Phong, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, major weaknesses currently lie in the community’s lack of understanding about startups, and the small number and low quality of startup ideas, despite significant improvements when compared with 10 years ago.

Mai Thanh Phong also said the city lacks a startup ecosystem with complete material facilities and services and that municipal nurseries lack operational funds.

With that in mind, Tran Thi Binh Minh, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Planning and Investment, said that the city will set up a startup center to provide consultation, support and instruction in administrative procedures.

Moreover, the city will launch a startup exchange and a website, while at the same time revising policies to resolve difficulties for startup and innovation businesses.

Thanh Thanh