US embassy in Vietnam is planning to organise Entrepreneurship Challenge, which will grant seed money to the winners to hep bring their startup ideas to the market.
This was announced by the US ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, on Thursday
The competition that reflects an increasing international interest in the local startup ecosystem, especially from the US – is expected to bridge the gap in early stage funding for Vietnamese startups
The Thursday event follows the American Innovation Roadshow last month, which brought together US companies with Vietnamese startups to collaborate on how the grow the ecosystem in Vietnam.
Apart from the Entrepreneurship Challenge, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and other projects and events throughout the year, the US Embassy in Vietnam will host an angel investor study tour to America.
“There is a buzz about Vietnam’s startup community that is reverberating globally, and people outside of the country and the region are starting to take notice. We want to amplify this message, and foster and promote the incredible startup boom in Vietnam,” said Osius.
The problem with the startup ecosystem in Vietnam is that there are medium to large venture capital funds who are willing to pay from $500,000 to $2 million or even more for stake in the startups, while the majority of local startups are in an early stage, opined Han Ngoc Tuan Linh from consultancy firm ATV Vietnam.
“We want to tackle this, how to facilitate the early stage funding for Vietnamese startups,” said Linh, who is manages the Vietnam Silicon Valley project, which has incubated and funded 15 startups since 2014.
The project launched VSV Corner, a co-working space for investors to come and learn about investing in Vietnamese startups.
“As we move on to the future, there will be a lot of problems to be solved, such as exits, but the pain point right now is early stage funding, and we hope to solve it in the short term,” Linh added.
Vietnam has been well known for its low labour cost as an attraction for investment to boost economic growth. However, science and technology innovation has arisen to be the major driver for its growth.
Tony Blinken, the US Deputy Secretary of State, has pledged to bring more investment to the Southeast Asian country, which he sees with “unlimited potential”.
“When I look at this place, I see the presence and the future of Vietnam. But not just Vietnam, the region and the entire world. Because the ideas and innovation, and the products that result from that are going to change the world. It starts by changing Vietnam,” he said.
According to Blinken, US investment into Vietnam is already up to $1.5 billion, and once the Trans Pacific Partnership is finished, the figure is expected to grow tremendously.