Vietnam’s startup ecosystem (3): Non-government support for startups — Who is taking part in the game?
Along with the participation of the public sector in building the startup ecosystem, in recent years, Vietnam witnessed the blooming of startup support organizations. This entry will introduce to you a landscape of the players in supporting innovative entrepreneurship in Vietnam through data that is aggregated from 2016 to 2019.

Universities, Research Institutes and Training Institutions

Currently, there are 138 universities, institutes and colleges organizing innovative startup activities, of which 43 have established business incubators, centers and clubs to provide long-term support for startups.

Support within educational institutions is being developed across the country, mostly in the form of support and incubation centres, implemented in the South with universities such as the Ho Chi Minh City National UniversityHo Chi Minh City University of TechnologyNguyen Tat Thanh University. In the North with prominent Universities such as Hanoi University of Technology (BK-Holdings)Hanoi National University (Center for knowledge transfer and start-up support — CSK)Foreign Trade University (Center for creativity and incubation — FIIS) and in the Central Region in the Da Nang University of Technology (CIT-Lotus Hub Incubator and Innovation Incubators). These incubators are helping training, capacity building as well as connecting startups with corporations, businesses, and support organizations.

Universities are also hosting annual competitions for startups. These contests help to promote entrepreneurship, act as a platform for students to learn and develop, skills a place where they can connect with the wider entrepreneurial communities to exchange and share experience and knowledge and also as a first stage where promising ideas and projects can test their ideas before competing at the regional and national level. Some prominent competitions in the country include Kawai (Foreign Trade University)I-StartUp (National Economics University)HueIC Challenge (Hue Industrial College) and the Entrepreneurship Concept Contest (Hue University), … The Ministry of Education and Training also hosts an annual event for promoting university students, the Student Entrepreneurship Day (SV — Startup 2019) which has the participation of over 200 universities, research institutions and Higher education institutions and was able to reach over 200,000 students.

Training Programs

In addition, Universities have been proactively incorporating entrepreneurship into their curriculum and equip necessary skills such as business planning, market assessment and pitching skills. The National Economics University has launched a Bachelor of Business Administration & Entrepreneurship(B-BAE) and the Vietnam National University’s school such as University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) and University of Economics and Business (UEB) have started having entrepreneurship courses in their core curriculum. However, at a national level, the implementation of these courses and also teaching about entrepreneurship at university remains only at the pilot stage.

A notable example of the university-based support for entrepreneurship is that of Foreign Trade University, which with the support of National Program 844, has implemented many training programs, short-term training courses on entrepreneurship, innovation and intellectual property. In addition, the University has organized competitions and events with nearly 25,500 students attending such as: Starting with Kawai (KBS), Vietnam Social Innovation Challenge (VSIC), Vietnam IP Challenge, etc. Their incubator, SIP100 has recently incubated 10 new startups, 6 of which have gone on to receive investment from sources such as Shark Tank, VSV … FTU has also cooperated with CSIP to successfully build the SOIN social incubation platform in 2018 and is currently starting to build a startup investment fund.

Business Incubators and Accelerators

Business Incubator

In Vietnam, there are currently 38 operating business incubators, about 72% concentrated in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In Ho Chi Minh City, the two most dynamic ecosystems in the country. Da Nang, a developing ecosystem, has also built 3 business incubators, focusing on the city’s strengths: tourism, food and high-tech products.

In addition to the three major cities, some municipalities and provinces have also built business incubators including Binh Duong, Can Tho, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Lam Dong and Thai Nguyen. The Can Tho municipality has established 2 business incubators, while the remaining 5 provinces have 1 startup incubator each. The majority of these incubators were established between 2015 and 2018, reflecting the effect of the Government’s strong commitment to support the development of ecosystems across the country. There is also a wide diversity of sectoral support provided by these incubators. In Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hanoi, incubators provide support for startups across a variety of industries, reflecting the dynamic nature of these ecosystems. Meanwhile, incubators in smaller ecosystems in cities and provinces focus on smaller specialised industries and areas that are the core of the local ecosystem. Hanoi Food Processing and Packaging Business Incubator chooses to support new, innovative and dynamic start-ups in the food industry; Business incubator in Soc Trang province supports female-led businesses, businesses led by ethnic minorities such as the Khmer or the CSIP incubator, focusing on social impact startups and enterprises.

Business Accelerators

Currently in Vietnam, there are 23 organizations providing business acceleration programs with the goal of helping startups develop their businesses and also call for investments. Business accelerators are concentrated in 2 major cities, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh with 10 being in Hanoi, 9 in HCM City and with smaller localities such as Da Nang, Thai Nguyen and Hue having one each. International accelerator programs are also supporting Vietnamese startups, including Google Launchpad program and Surge, a program run by Sequoia capital.

Accelerators in Vietnam are a relatively new phenomenon, with most of them having started around 2016, with operation time starting from 2015 and 2016. In 2019, two more accelerators programs were established: Thinkzone and Saola with Thinkzone primarily focused on fintech startups, while Saola; a program belonging to 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley-based VC fund.

Some accelerators are also being established and being supported by the government, especially in the National Program 844, these include an accelerator program at the Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, the Posts and Telecommunications Institute of Technology , the Military Technology Academy and at the Saigon Innovation Hub (Sihub). The characteristics of these programs are focusing on specific fields such as agriculture, finance, or focusing on helping startups raise capital for group.


  1. Directive No09 / CT-TTg on creating conditions for innovative start-ups
Tác giả: Nguyễn Thị Thúy Hiền