Vietnam: CMC Corporation launches $2.2m early-stage startup investment fund

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Vietnam's Deputy PM talks to CMC leaders at the company's innovation centre.

CMC Corporation, one of the major technology companies based in Vietnam, on February 26 launched a VND50 billion ($2.2 million) startup fund – the CMC Innovation Fund (CIF).

CMC has become the second tech major in Vietnam to introduce a corporate venture capital arm, following the $3 million FPT Ventures launched by FPT Corporation last year.

CIF will be investing in early stage companies with a focus on the areas of security, cloud, IoT, robotics, big data and artificial intelligence.

The company said it will keep aside 10 per cent of its annual profits for this fund. “We do have a venture capital approach, but the fund is not 100 per cent targeting at making profits. Instead, the aim of CIF is to test the feasibility of the projects and to encourage innovation,” said Nguyen Trung Chinh, chairman at CMC.

CIF welcomes both internal projects from within CMC as well as outside startups.

“Investments into good projects will be extended by our commercialisation fund,” Chinh added.

CMC established a $20 million fund in 2009 for VC investment and M&A activities, and the facility has reportedly invested in two projects.

“We still have money in kitty to make new investments,” Chinh said.

Founded in 1993, CMC has become one of the top five ICT companies in Vietnam, providing telecom services, software products, system integration and producing and distributing IT products.

It is currently a listed stock on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange.

CMC has also launched an innovation hub within its headquarters in Hanoi, positioning it as an incubator-cum-coworking space for startups.

Vietnam has recently seen more engagement from large corporate players in the startup community, with FPT establishing a VC unit as well as an accelerator called VIISA in partnership with Dragon Capital and South Korea’s Hanwha Group; and the country’s biggest mobile operator Viettel looking to set up another VC fund.

Financial institutions, including BIDV and VPBank, are also participating in initiatives to support local tech startups.

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