Vietnam becoming an R&D hub for global tech giants

By Luu Quy   April 18, 2021 | 06:10 pm PT
Samsung Electronics is building a $220-million R&D center in Hanoi, and U.S. chip company Qualcomm has set up its first R&D facility in Southeast Asia in Vietnam.
An artists impression of Samsung Electronics research and development center in Tay Ho District, Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Samsung.

An artist's impression of Samsung Electronics' research and development center in Tay Ho District, Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Samsung.

The former is expected to be completed in 2022 and employ 3,000 engineers.

The South Korean giant also has other R&D centers in Vietnam to research into mobile devices, household electrical appliances, artificial intelligence, and data analysis.

The Qualcomm R&D center opened in June last year in Hanoi with four laboratories for developing wireless technologies (4G, 5G) and camera technologies and boosting the performance of mobile device batteries. It has around 50 engineers, all of them Vietnamese.

The Samsung facility will develop smartphones for the Southeast Asian market and software for Australia, New Zealand and Europe, and serve as a 5G network testing hub.

Others have also chosen Vietnam to set up R&D centers, including ride-hailing company Grab (in HCMC), South Korean tech giant LG Electronics (Hanoi and Da Nang) and Japan’s Toshiba and Panasonic (Hanoi).

Samsung also has 11 labs in Vietnamese universities to conduct collaborative education programs and enable students to take part in research into mobile phone technologies.

Many students have gone on to become researchers at the company.

Vu Thanh Thang, vice chairman of cybersecurity firm BKAV, said the trend of tech giants setting up R&D centers in Vietnam shows the country "has the ability to take part in high value-added activities in the global value chain."

Vietnam is now in a golden demographic period with 45 percent of its population being under 30 years of age, which is attractive to global companies, he said.

But this trend is causing difficulties to local tech companies since they have to compete with global giants to attract talent, he pointed out.

He suggested that instead they should proactively train their own R&D engineers.

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