ITP – Launching platform for technology startups and digital transformation applications

Software Technology Park Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City – ITP – is an innovative startup ecosystem, majoring in the field of information technology and communication. With 10 years of experience supporting startups, ITP has obtained certain achievements and been playing an important role in the startup ecosystem of Ho Chi Minh City in particular and Vietnam in general. To realize such success, ITP staff has gone through a myriad of difficulties and continuously learnt to finetune the organization's operation model. With a view to catalyzing your understanding about the initiatives of startup incubators in Vietnam; based on which you can find start-up opportunities for your own business; DNES gives you the story of ITP – a launching platform for technology startups and digital transformation applications.

 

I. General introduction: 

The Software Technology Park of Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City – ITP – was born in 2003. However, in 2013, ITP started operating as an innovative startup ecosystem. ITP's activities revolve around three main goals: (1) Building and developing IT start-up groups, (2) Advancing innovative IT and communication startups, and (3) developing highly qualified human resources serving start-ups and innovation. 

Currently, ITP is constantly expanding its ecosystem, with more than 100 innovative startup projects, more than 1000 employees of high quality, as well as more than 8000 students studying and working every year. After 10 years of activities in startup incubation, ITP has achieved certain success, thanks to the devotion of its staff, the complete support of leaders and an efficient network of resources. 

II. Operation model: 

ITP's operation model aids innovative startups/ businesses at various stages, specially focusing on technology startups. In the coming time, ITP’s startup incubation will venture into new fields, such as AI, Fintech and areas applying digital transformation. 

In ITP, innovation centers of large, small and medium enterprises are also in place. As a result, ITP can easily facilitate the connection among resources and provide full support for the start-up businesses supported and incubated by the center. ITP's startup support model bridges the gap between the University and the startup ecosystem, and is closely intertwined with these two resources to fully support innovative startups. Through the implementation of startup programs by the Government and the National University of Ho Chi Minh City, as well as activities connecting and coordinating resources in the startup ecosystem; ITP pursues to promote entrepreneurship, incubate potential projects, educate knowledge on startup and support research collaboration, with a view to transferring knowledge and technology. In fact, ITP has constantly implemented training programs and startup ideas’ contests. ITP's annual startup training courses have spreaded to more than 20 provinces and cities, accompanied by startup ideas’ contests enthusiastically greeted by students, in more specific terms: 250 teams of annual contests, access to up to 600,000 students and welcome more than 700 students.  

Innovation Entrepreneurship Center (IEC), Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City is a unit that puts an emphasis on supporting entrepreneurship for students and community, as well as implementing incubation and development activities that help connect start-up projects with related resources. ITP’s consideration to filter startups for incubation is always based on two criteria. The first criterion is people. It is the founders of the startup who are the key factor that makes ITP consider supporting the project. Founders should be tremendously committed to the project and must be adequately qualified to implement their project. The second criterion is the project’s feasibility. Startup projects supported by ITP must hold a feasible model with potential products in place. 

After this filtering process, ITP will utilize its network and resources as a launching pad to encourage startups’ growth to their fullest potential. Physical and IT infrastructure as well as support policies for innovative start-ups are all offered by ITP. Additionally, ITP also coordinates with partners to support businesses in the matters of capital, marketing, legal and product development for startups.

 

III. Success:

ITP's innovative startup ecosystem has been implemented for a course of nearly 10 years. After this course, ITP has formed a basic startup ecosystem and achieved some notable results. Its first success is the creation of many talented founders. Through human resource training programs in combination with training organizations, ITP has unearthed more than 350 potential entrepreneurs with more than 200 startup ideas, 10% of which have managed to raise capital investment worth up to 4 billion. ITP also successfully supports innovative startups through investment rounds, with several outstanding enterprises receiving investment, namely Mimosatek, Busmap, Cohota Shub, Casso, Funimart, etc. The next success ITP has obtained is the improvement of skills, knowledge, and experience for students involved in startup projects and startup companies through ITP's programs, such as entrepreneurs' journey, startups' open day, startup club, etc. Based on this, many startup projects by students have significantly progressed and successfully raised capital investment: InutFlatfrom, SHub, Funimart exemplify this success of ITP, by having managed to raise capital and advanced strongly, despite the fact that even though they are originally initiated by students.

IV. Difficulties: 

When it comes to startups' support activities of ITP, challenges and difficulties are inevitable. For ITP, the biggest challenge posing the team is the fact that they must be closely intertwined with their resources and partners to maximize support for startup projects. To overcome such difficulty, fortunately, ITP has Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City as the hosting and supporting unit for startup support programs and activities. Thanks to this, ITP can flexibly coordinate with numerous different partners in supporting startup projects inside and outside the framework of the National University. 

V. The role of ITP in the startup ecosystem: 

According to MSc. Tran Tri Dung – Program Manager, Swiss Entrepreneurship Program, Swiss EP – ITP is a startup’s supporting unit that holds a profound understanding of startups and always makes the best effort for the startups incubated here. As a result, ITP plays a significant role in the development of the startup ecosystem in Ho Chi Minh City in particular and Vietnam in general. With ITP, this organization always provides thorough overall support packages for startups, accompanied by patience and companionship with startups from scratch to success. 

One of the notable startups supported by ITP is Cohota – a platform providing virtual teaching solutions. According to Mr. Thai Chuong – Founder of Cohota, during the 3-year incubation, Cohota has received tremendously thorough support from ITP, from infrastructure to programs that escalate  digital transformation. In addition, ITP notably helps Cohota in terms of policy, workplace and human resources; and connects to essential resources so that Cohota can be supported in terms of sales and marketing. These are benefits that are rare to be found in small teams. Therefore, Mr. Thai Chuong said that the participation of startups in incubators, and deep acknowledgment of their support, is one of the necessary things when starting a business. 

Also a project worth mentioning incubated at ITP, iNUT has joined ITP since 2018 and benefited from many support packages from ITP in terms of knowledge, space and suitable human resources for iNUT’s operation. . 

VI. Lessons learned: 

After supporting startups, ITP has concluded two interesting lessons for  ITP itself and other start-up incubators in Vietnam. First thing first, ITP always tries to create programs and policies that support startups with sufficient flexibility to be able to help and provide resources for projects’ development. The second lesson is about selecting which projects to incubate. ITP always prioritizes startups whose founders are highly committed to the project and owns the needed capacity to implement the project. Thanks to these two life-and-death lessons, ITP can continuously advance itself and fine-tune its operation model; in order to best support startups in ITP’s network.  

Through the series of articles on "Incubation and Support Organizations for Startups in Vietnam", DNES is pleased to bring to you the story of ITP. DNES hopes that, through this article, you will have a better grasp of the incubation activities of a startup support organization; which boosts your confidence and perseverance to start your entrepreneurial journey is the mission of incubators like us.