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Agritech, Greentech, Deeptech and Foodtech - foreign funds interests in Vietnam

The Vietnamese Government has issued many mechanisms and policies to attract foreign-invested enterprises, including foreign tech startups.

Agritech, Greentech, Deeptech and Foodtech are promising sectors that are expected to boom in the coming years in Vietnam, according to local experts and those from abroad.

The Vietnam Government has issued many mechanisms and policies to attract and support foreign startups. Photo: InnoLab Asia

Local and foreign enterprises shared their expectations when joining a panel discussion titled “Vietnam market entry: Opportunities and How to collaborate with Vietnamese companies” within an international webinar, which was held by Sunwah Innovations in partnership with Vietnam National Innovation Center (NIC) and InnoLab Asia on June 28.

All the panelists at the webinar said they were impressed with the growth of Vietnam's startup ecosystem and its potential for overseas startups and investment funds to tap into. A record high of US$1.3 billion venture capital investment was poured into the ecosystem, with fintech, medtech, e-commerce and SaaS (software-as-a-service) as well as business-to-business services as the prominent sectors.

Attending the panel discussion, Cong-Thang Huynh, Co-founder and Director of InnoLab Asia, said the recent generation of Vietnamese entrepreneurs, from 2015 until now,  carried a regional mindset when starting up businesses, which opened opportunities for foreign founders to co-found, or join hands with local startups and utilize local insights when expanding business in Vietnam.

As one of the foreign funds in Vietnam, Golden Gate Ventures started its business model after the very first outbreak of the pandemic and launched two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City recently, which showed its market attractiveness as well as its commitments to increasing investment in the country.

 Cong-Thang Huynh, Co-founder and Director of InnoLab Asia. Photos: Sunwah Inno

Vinnie Lauria, Founding Partner of Golden Gate Ventures said: “As the going-global capability of the ecosystem has been enhanced, Vietnam can be an important gateway for startups to expand regionally.”

Meanwhile, the Co-founder and CEO of CARRECT Tim Lee said that Vietnam is a good launchpad for his startup to expand to Southeast Asia thanks to the strong economic recovery and soaring digital demands in the post-pandemic.

Finding the right partners by actively engaging in the ecosystem and leveraging the networks of the investors was a key to its growth in Vietnam, he added.

From the state management viewpoint, Do Tien Thinh, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Innovation Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said the Vietnamese Government has issued many mechanisms and policies to attract and support foreign-invested enterprises, including foreign tech startups.

He added the Law on Investment clearly stated that innovative startup projects, innovation centers, and research, and development centers are the beneficiaries of investment incentives, including tax incentives, import tax exemption for certain types of goods, exemption or reduction of land use levy and land rent, and others.

“The Government is in the process of simplifying procedures for foreign investors to set up innovative small and medium-sized businesses and startup funds in Vietnam,” he said

 Do Tien Thinh, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Innovation Centre 

To encourage foreign funds to join the market, Thang from InnoLab Asia tipped that foreign businesses should go through a market entry framework of four main steps, including analyzing market potential, understanding the competition landscape, reflecting their own capabilities and financial implications for at least three months before starting the go-to-market plan to Vietnam.

He highly recommended overseas startups join local incubators or accelerators to validate the market potential, optimize the product-market fit and accelerate their market entry.

Katie Nguyen, Vice Director of Sunwah Innovations, said that relationships and trust-building were highly important for overseas companies to succeed in Vietnam when the role of cross-border ecosystem builders and local support organization come into play.

The company, inheriting an extensive local network from the group’s over 50 years doing business in Vietnam, is dedicated to being a local connector and supporting international startups to explore the market, Katie Nguyen said.