World Economic Forum director: Vietnam should try to merge classic industry with digital

By Lam Le, Nhat Minh   April 25, 2016 | 07:35 pm PT
Philipp Rosler, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, said the digital revolution presents an opportunity for Vietnam to step up its game in global competitiveness.

Focusing on developing a start-up ecosystem like the Sillicon Valley is essential for Vietnam’s start up community to strive, said Rosler at a meeting with Hanoi’s prominent start ups last night.

The former German minister of economics and technology drew from his own experience of brining his country’s start-ups to the valley for six months to learn and connect.

“I’m convinced that Vietnam’s start up community is equally dynamic and creative,” said Rosler. What the country needs now is to highlight its unique culture and creativity to attract venture capital funding.


Philipp Rosler speaking at the event. Photo by Nhat Minh.

As the world is shifting to new production ways like 3D printing and artificial intelligience, technology is starting to replace cheap workforce. “If you focus on tech, you have a great chance. Start right now with new production ways; try to merge the classical industry with the digital one,” said Rosler.

In order to achieve that, Rosler noted Vietnam has to up its research in science and technology and encourage entrepreneurship among its young population. Meanwhile, the government should act as a bridge between start ups and venture capital funding.

Responding on VnExpress’ comment that Vietnam’s productivity is 16 times lower than Singapore’s, Rosler stressed on looking forward and taking the advantage of the country’s young population, what developed countries like Germany and Japan don't have.

However, Nguyen Viet Thang, a team leader at See Space, a start up developing smart TV technology, has a different outlook on Vietnam’s start up scene.

“Hanoi’s start up community is far behind the level of Silicon Valley. Catching up would require a lot of work”, said Thang. Instead of trying to compete with countries like the U.S., Vietnam should use its cheap workforce to its advantage as the digital outsourcer. See Space itself is based in Silicon Valley but its team of developers works in Hanoi.

For the start-up community to strive, Thang thinks first the public’s attitude to start-ups should change. “Doing a start-up requires tremendous amount of hard work, while many are just looking for a short cut to success,” said Thang.

Moreover, he said, what Vietnam’s workforce lacks is problem solving. Creating a skilled workforce Vietnam needs to strive is not about merely teaching coding. It’s about allowing young people to practice critical thinking and problem solving, and coding is one way to do it. 

The event was organized by Global Shapers Hanoi Hub (GSC Hanoi Hub) and Up-Coworking Space for startup entrepreneurs to discuss startups in the context of global integration

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