SHTP – Supporting and developing Vietnamese-branded technology startups

Located at the Northeast gateway of Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) was established in August 2006, is one of three National High-Tech Parks established by the Government. After more than 16 years of establishment and development, SHTP has become a trusted destination for high-tech investment in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam. With the goal of incubating Vietnamese-branded technology businesses, developing products examined by the Vietnamese, high-tech business incubator SHTP positions itself as an innovation center, connecting various components of the startup ecosystem. And for you, the readers, to grasp the best overview of SHTP's initiatives, DNES would like to send you the story of SHTP, a typical story of an incubator in Vietnam. 

 I. General introduction of SHTP:

 

Established in August 2006, SHTP supports the incubation of Vietnamese-branded technology businesses, products resulting from the brains of the Vietnamese people; through which the development of an innovative startup ecosystem in Ho Chi Minh City is contributed and actual values are gradually generated, ​​through the incubation of technology products. During its 16-year operation, Saigon Hi-Tech Park with many generations of leaders has always perpetuated a spirit of inspiring and motivating generations of Vietnamese startups through a series of practical activities, namely facility support, need-based, characteristic-tailored incubation programs for each project, in-depth start-up support service packages, connection programs with large enterprises, international cooperation programs, promoting an innovative startup ecosystem and vitalize entrepreneurship through startup competitions and student-oriented programs. 

Upholding the principle to always place Vietnamese technology at the core in developing innovation along with its strategic geographical position the Hi-Tech Park, SHTP always receives substantial support from globally famous businesses and investors. These are also the important factors and the foundation shaping the special competitive-edge of this incubator. 

II. Operation model:

SHTP focuses on sharpening its 4 spearheads including: (1) Microelectronics – Information Technology – Telecommunications; (2) Exact mechanics – Automation; (3) Biotechnology applied in pharmaceuticals and environment; and (4) New Energy – New Materials – Nanotechnology. In order to foster sustainable development in all the aforementioned areas, SHTP emphasizes three main activities, creating a tripod serving as a foundation for the forthcoming sustainable development. These main activities consist of:

 

  1. 33.Incubation activities: 

Currently, SHTP not only supports incubating projects into businesses, but also supports the incubation of products with new technology from established businesses or now undergoing the innovation process.   

  1. Linking and collectively building an innovation ecosystem:

SHTP focuses on practice-oriented and project development-intended training. SHTP's teaching staff not only come from institutes, schools but are also experts in domestic and foreign enterprises and organizations, especially experts from enterprises in high-tech parks. Additionally, SHTP also focuses on liking, coordinating with institutes and schools to organize startup competitions to stimulate and help the youth shape the right developing direction of technology-based startups in the coming time. Some notable contests include: Soccerbot, Xamarin Crazy Hackathon, Location Tech Hackathon, New energy Hackathon, AI Hack,…  

  1. Open innovation:

This is a program to connect corporations with businesses and startups. Currently, the program has welcomed the companionship of many businesses and increasingly established a foundation to advance to a greater extent in the future.

Not only that, the High-Tech Business Incubator also has the capacity of simultaneously incubating 50 projects with essential facilities and equipments; building “Maker innovation space” with cutting-edge equipment to catalyze testing activities, creating prototypes; possessing a showroom for innovative start-up products; providing office space for incubators; equipping a system of modern meeting and conference rooms; building a common activity space and a startup club. Start-up projects which are approved to enroll in the incubation program will go through an incubation process of 1-3 years with specifically-tailored support activities, based on the field and development level of the project.

III. Successes of SHTP:

After its 16-year establishment and development, SHTP has obtained certain achievements, gradually asserting its position and role in the startup ecosystem of Ho Chi Minh City in particular and Vietnam in general. In 2018, SHTP was honored to be 1 of the 3 best incubators (according to I-STAR). This is the strongest testimony to the constant efforts and improvement of the entire SHTP staff.

1. Regarding investment attraction: 

SHTP has granted investment certification to 156 projects, with the total amount of investment capital reaching US$ 7,136 billion, of which 73 projects have stably operated with a total accumulated export value reaching 45,456 billion USD, contributing about 94% of the export turnover of high-tech products in Ho Chi Minh City. According to investment statistics by country and territory, SHTP is the ideal destination for many projects and high-tech corporations in the world, notably a large number of investors from multinational corporations such as: Intel Corporation (USA – 1.04 billion USD); Nidec Corporation (Japan – 296 million USD); Samsung Group (Korea – 2 billion USD), Nipro Group (Japan – 300 million USD), … along with about 60% of the number of projects from investors in the fields of high technology production, research and development

(Source: http://www.shtp.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/)

2. Regarding Science – Technology potential:

SHTP has established 5 laboratories, acquiring more than 30 doctors and masters working in the different departments of the high-tech Park. Additionally, SHTP has accumulated more than 40 scientific articles published in international ISI-certified journals and domestic journals; more than 114 intellectual properties have been established and 75% of startups are successfully commercialized. Businesses incubated here also won many domestic and foreign innovation awards. Not only that, the Incubator building was also officially inaugurated and operated since 2019, with an incubation productivity of 50 incubation projects/year and about 100 startup projects/year.

 

1 of the 3 best incubators honored at I-STAR 2018

IV. Challenges SHTP has encountered:

Until now, SHTP incubator has established its facilities and built a team of highly-qualified executives/operators and experts to carry out startup support activities. Hence, for SHTP, the biggest difficulty for the time being is the financial mechanism. SHTP is a state unit, which is why it is obliged to the State Budget Law and State regulations. This inadvertently creates a quite challenging conundrum for the incubator during its current operation. Besides, nowadays, there are a lot of private incubators and incubators from domestic and foreign organizations in the ecosystem. With such a condition, SHTP must re-position its competitive-edge and grow itself, further upgrading its support activities to overcome the aforementioned obstacles.

 

V. The role of SHTP in the ecosystem:

From the early days, SHTP has always positioned itself as an innovation center, where resources are connected so organizations and individuals in Vietnam and abroad can collectively approaching towards a joint goal – promoting the development of startup projects based on the technology platforms and wisdom of the Vietnamese people; forming technology projects and companies with products of fine quality; commercialize products in Vietnam and international markets. Therefore, SHTP is constantly trying to implement tasks to realize the established mission. As MS. Tran Tri Dung – Program Manager, Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP) has stated, High-tech Business Incubator (Saigon Hi-Tech Park – SHTP) perfectly exemplifies the city's efforts to provide resources and support policies in order to foster innovation. In fact, there have been many projects avidly supported and guided into the right direction by SHTP, resulting in fruitful success, such as: Elinkgate, Ewater and Near Home.com. According to Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hoang – Founder & CEO of Elinkgate, SHTP incubator has supported Elinkgate a lot in setting intellectual property rights, helping Elinkgate in the successful registration of 3 inventions to become a high-tech enterprise. This tremendously contributes to Elinkgate's outstanding sales growth in 2022. In addition, the incubator also helps connect Elinkgate with support programs to raise initial capital serving the manufacturing and testing activities for Elinkgate's technologies. Those are all invaluable support. Not only with Elinkgate, Ewater also benefited a lot in the aspects of finance and expertise. More specifically, thanks to its prestige, SHTP has helped Ewater approach numerous potential customers in Vietnam (according to Mr. Le Trung Hieu – Founder & CTO of Ewater). As for Near home.com, an offline-to-online digital conversion ecosystem that has been incubated at SHTP since 2016, SHTP has accompanied Near home.com since the early days of ideation, provided the business with easier access to leading experts in the industry, as well as created opportunities for this business to develop prototypes.  

VI. Lessons learned from SHTP: 

SHTP believes that the role of an incubator is to support startup projects and form businesses; the incubator is thus obliged to possess a business mindset. Just like a business, to achieve sustainable development, the incubator needs to emphasize extremely simple factors. First, the incubator shall pinpoint a competitive-edge and further sharpen such an edge. Second, the Incubator must constantly advance its products and services; marketing activities must also generate efficient results. Not only state incubators, private incubators must also apply such a mindset to be capable of overcoming obstacles, surviving and perpetually developing. 

The activities of the SHTP incubator are predominantly focused on incubation and acceleration, the components absent from the ecosystem and in need of supporting resources. Through this article on "Incubators to support startups in Vietnam", DNES brings to you the story of SHTP, wishing to give the readers an overview of how an incubator in Vietnam, who always puts the best foot forward to comprehensively support Vietnamese-branded technology startups, operates.