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Dec 05, 2022 / 11:14

Hanoi's startup wins VietChallenge Season 2022 contest

Massachusetts-based VietChallenge seeks to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of young Vietnamese who are both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese founders.

Hanoi-based GeneStory, providing genetic testing services based on a sizeable Vietnamese dataset exclusively for Vietnamese people, won first prize in the final round of the VietChallenge Season 2022 contest, which was held at Nasdaq Marketsite in Times Square, New York, the US.

 GeneStory, the winner of the 2022 VietChallenge contest. Photos: NIC

The winner of the global-scale competition received a cash prize of US$25,000 at the second-biggest stock exchange in the world on December 3.

Along with GeneStory, other finalist startups spanning a wide range of industries from Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence to E-commerce and Biotechnology, including CyberPurify, bHub (Phenikaa MaaS), Foodmap, Cargoha, and Wareflex Vietnam, are also presented at the final round of the 2022 VietChallenge. 

The contestants had the chance to learn from the best experts in the industry about fundraising, venture capital, and startup/venture capital legal procedures. In addition to a cash prize of up to $50,000, US investors pledged to pour funding into the finalists.

Mai Zymaris, Founder and President of VietChallenge, said that, with the resonance from investors’ capital, and the prosperity of Vietnam’s economy, the quality of the competing teams is increasing year by year. The landscape might result in Google, Alibaba, and Facebook-like firms in Vietnam in the near future.

She added the program had fostered a global community with a shared passion for supporting emerging technologies and diverse founders at the center. 

“Our flagship annual Startup Competition has served as a launching pad for over 800 early-stage entrepreneurs of Vietnamese heritage in the US and Asia. Finalists of VietChallenge have raised over $30 million in venture funding,” she said.

 An overview of the event.

Speaking at the final round event, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Duy Dong said Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia and expected to reach about 8% in 2022 thanks to open-door policies in post-pandemic economic recovery. Therefore, the attraction of foreign direct investment showed positive results.

While Vietnam remains an investment destination for the world's large companies, it has also faced many major challenges from abroad, so the country needs to take better advantage of opportunities to promote economic growth based on science, technology, and innovation, Dong underlines.

For that reason, it's of significance that the VietChallenge 2022 program aimed to seek startups with high potential and positive spillover effects founded by Vietnamese on a global scale, he said.

Within the framework of the event, the deputy minister also worked with some leading US financial institutions and investment funds, including Bank of America, Blackrock, and numerous experts and entrepreneurs in the investment and finance sector to promote startup and innovation connections between investors and businesses of the two countries, contributing to strengthening bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

 Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Duy Dong speaks at the event.

Dong noted that Vietnam's current investment policies prioritize channeling funds into high-tech innovation and application activities, such as semiconductor technology, rather than attracting large-scale investment. He also emphasized the role of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI)'s National Innovation Center (NIC) as a direct focal point in supporting and connecting the two countries' enterprises to realize this goal.

The VietChallenge contest was jointly held by the NIC and VietChallenge, Inc., a non-profit organization based in the US. 

The organization is known for its flagship, eponymous annual startup competition to foster business synergies through mentorship, networking, and access to funding, aiming to expand its business to Vietnam’s market. Since 2015, the three-round-judging competition has helped elevate more than 800 startups, who came to compete from 20+ countries. During its past six seasons, VietChallenge has awarded more than $300,000 in cash with no strings attached to its contestants.