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THE INVESTOR
September 18, 2019
Big Reunion

Startups & Investors

SIHUB woos foreign startups to mix tech with resources

  • PUBLISHED :May 30, 2019 - 15:34
  • UPDATED :June 17, 2019 - 11:41
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HO CHI MINH, Vietnam -- Saigon Innovation Hub, or SIHUB, has served as a pool for breeding early-stage technology-driven startups in Vietnam’s commercial hub.

Founded in 2016 as part of an initiative by Ho Chi Minh City Energy Conservation Center (ECC-HCMC), the municipal startup hub stands out in the world’s fastest-growing economy, provided its past collaborations with foreign partners including ones from South Korea -- the largest investor in Vietnam.

SIHUB has moved to put the Vietnamese startup ecosystem on the world map, amid global integration for technology innovation that comes into play, CEO Huynh Kim Tuoc said in an interview with The Investor. 

Saigon Innovation Hub CEO Huynh Kim Tuoc
Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor

“There is really something tech-oriented that we need to go global,” he said. “As a policymaker and enabler, (SIHUB) thinks that it is the right time for global integration and have startups lead the process.”

Formerly a director of the ECC-HCMC with an expertise in technology transfer, Tuoc said foreign startups looking to launch operations in Vietnam should come up with ideas on how their invention can be combined with local natural resources.

“(Vietnam) is home to different herbs for health and other uses, like in chemical and cosmetics products,” he said.

“If (foreign startups) have technologies or inventive solutions to make use of these materials, they can get very good ingredients for cosmetics, chemical and pharmaceutical (products here).”

SIHUB has sought to become a gateway to global markets for local startups and, vice versa for foreign startups.

Of the total 500 early-stage startups supported by SIHUB each year, some 30-50 were foreign startups, he said, adding up to $90,000 will be funded to each pre-incubation stage startup.

In addition to the United States and Canada, Korea has been a key partner for innovation and startup ecosystem in Vietnam, Tuoc said.

Saigon Innovation Hub CEO Huynh Kim Tuoc
Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor


SIHUB has collaborated with some 30 Korean entities -- provincial government agencies, universities and financial institutions -- to stimulate commercialization of technologies. These include Shinhan Futures Lab, Ulsan Techno Park and Busan United Holdings.

“We have leveraged and made use of financial resources, technologies and knowledge from Korea, together with what we have, like working labor or natural resources, to create highly active commodities,” Tuoc said.

SIHUB plans to go to greater lengths in terms of ties with Korea.

For one, it is planning to open its first representative office in Korea, partly to strengthen research and development capabilities with local partners.

SIHUB is considering some options for location, including Daejeon-based Hannam University or Seoul Startup Hub, run by Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Business Agency. Its staff will be dispatched to Korea in June to confirm the location.

Furthermore, to carry out projects for biochemistry technology commercialization, Tuoc said SIHUB is interested in working with Chuncheon Bioindustry Foundation, located in Gangwon Province. 

This article is the result of collaboration between the Korea Herald and Antara, sponsored by the Korea Press Foundation.

By Son Ji-hyoung (cosnow@heraldcorp.com)

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