Science and Technology in Vietnam

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Vietnam is currently working towards enhancing their science and technology industry which will drive sustainable growth in order to boost their economy after the Vietnam War and unification of South and North Vietnam in the 1970-1990s. A joint study  in 2014 by Organization of Economic and Cooperation Development  and World Bank states that Vietnam relied mostly on productivity based on innovation in order to upgrade their economy where they are looking at key elements , relationships and dynamics that driven Vietnamese innovation system & opportunities and  enhancing it through government policy on science and tech development. Increased competition in global markets has  increased the importance of investing in  advanced technological capabilities.

Although Vietnam has a history of scientific research contribution to the world,  Vietnamese science and tech market still stands at emerging markets in the world where weakness in STI  has caused Vietnam lag behind other  ASEAN countries  such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and etc. Lack of sustainable and suitable international environment is a challenge for Vietnam to improve their science, technology and innovation sector which caused Vietnam to struggle in race to be the most developed countries in Asia, and potentially  dropping to *middle income trap* if no action to address this issue is initiated by Vietnamese government as fast as possible. World Bank and OECD has recommended policies that will drive science, technology and innovation growth in Vietnam, where they should improve framework and conditions for innovation, upgrading public governance of innovation system, increasing the human resource base for innovation industry by focusing on IT development and decrease the brain drain and transform it into brain gain among Vietnamese student and citizens.  Vietnam should also foster innovation in business sector by implementing necessary improvements and use effective ways to attract foreign firms to invest in local firms to stimulate and promote innovation. There is also the need to strengthen collaboration on innovation between firms, public and private sectors, universities and colleges.

In 2013, Vietnam and Australia, whom celebrating their 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, signed an agreement to develop science and technology sector. This agreement builds on 1992 bilateral MoU where this makes relationship between Australia and Vietnam closer. For Australia, Vietnam is one of the countries in Southeast Asia where investment opportunities were available; focusing on agriculture, water management and land resource research, and Australia Research Council is sponsoring 17 collaborative research projects.  Australia also invested in Vietnam education sector, where collaboration between Australia’s University of Queensland English Institute and RMIT University-University of Danang where both nations supports development of science and technology which enable cooperation in issues of climate change and its impact on the world.  In August 2016, Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology pledge to create best policies for high-tech parks  and business of Asian Science Parks Association  to expand cooperation and improve their scientific technological capacity in Vietnam  during  the Business Meeting Asia programme on August 16,2016 in Hanoi  which will expand collaboration  between businesses in and outside of Vietnam  for local and foreign companies in the fields of  information and communication technology, electronics and medical equipment and also in other sector.

On 11th February 2017, Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of Science and Technology signed an agreement to promote application of science and technology in the sector where science and tech play a crucial role in enhancing competitiveness on ASEAN region and  global.  The agreement, which covers 2017-2020 will enhance cooperation in science and technology, industry and trade  to effectively complete Vietnam development policies.  Both ministries will create a special mechanism on promoting science and tech usage in mechanics, manufacturing, parts supply industries and other important sector and also build science and tech related program during the agreement period. Science and tech are the key factors in enhancing product quality, competitiveness and productivity of workers.  Vietnam needs to promote hi-tech agriculture to increase food production and improving its quality and efficiency, before export it to local and international destinations. An investment on hi-tech agriculture is introduced in 2010, where it aimed to complete the development of hi-tech agriculture system by 2020.  Few Vietnamese cities has been favored to  be hi-tech agriculture destination, they are:  Ho Chi Minh City, Lam Dong,  Vinh Phuc and Quang Nanh. Cooperation between farmers, businesses,  state research organizations is needed as businesses are the main provider for farmer’s access to hi-tech agriculture system.  Public-private partnership is suggested to attract investment into agriculture industry, be it local or international investment to improve Vietnam’s agriculture sector.

Growth in Vietnam’s economy accompanied with increasing income per capita has led to increase in demand for information and communications technology (ICT) and the ICT industry has a stable growth during the 2008-2013 period. Vietnamese government identified that ICT  as a key contributor to country development in economy and ICT sector and this led to the initiation of Master Plan on Information Technology which set target for 2020 and transforming Vietnam into advanced ICT country.  The plan focused on workforce, local industry, infrastructure, enhancing the application on Vietnam’s ICT sector, which will assist in economic development in Vietnam and they are committed to long-term global integration. Vietnam is a member of ASEAN Free Trade Area, APEC,WTO and Asean-Australia-New Zealand  Free Trade Agreement and also currently involved in TPPA, where the status of the agreement is unknown at this time as US pulls out from this agreement.  Vietnam also developing these few sector, namely: hardware and electronics, telecommunications, software, digital content, broadband IT plus telecommunication and broadcasting, cloud computing and e-security.

In June 2016, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said that  Vietnam need to intensify its ICT development and further policies for environment protection.  Application of technology in developing economy industry, environment protection and social issues hasn’t been fully addressed at the press time. Vietnam can accelerate the development by acquiring capital and investment so that they can move up the high-tech ladder in all sectors.  Globalization in modern world has promoted changes in  politics, culture, society and technology and also economy and it is vital to involve all countries in the world to face the globalization, where  opportunities is there and imposing challenge sin all countries which in this case, Vietnam. Science and technology played a key role in enhancing economic development and also affected by the globalization, especially in developing country such as Vietnam.  Globalization will make Vietnam integrate world’s science and technology, where it creates favorable conditions for Vietnam to learn from other country information on automobile production, mobile equipment manufacturing, agricultural development, and information technology and implement it in Vietnam.  However the current use of traditional technology and slow innovation posed a challenge to Vietnam‘s initiative to be advanced technology nation by 2020. Lack of well-qualified scientists, lack of funds for science and tech sector, inefficient use of laboratories and operation of high-tech zone, and lack of talented people are also a hindrance to Vietnam’s science and tech sector.  Cooperation between scientists and businesses and international cooperation is important in science and technology sector is important to keep up with the rapid globalization but with recent policies that focused on using science and technology as a source to upgrade Vietnamese economy to advanced ICT nation by 2020 the situation in Vietnam has improved with more science and tech products were produced or currently studied by Vietnamese expert in science and technology, which is a good sign of progression of Vietnamese science and tech industry.  On March 30th 2017, engineers from Vinacomin-Materials Trading JSC successfully studied and produced environmentally friendly fire-resistant hydraulic oil named as Cominlub, which will contribute in improving working conditions for miners in Vietnam. This product is safe for usage as it does not completely contain of mineral oil and it is biodegradable and meets the international standards.

On 15th March 2017, Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology announced that, doctors of Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, successfully completed organ transplant from a  brain-dead organ donor to selected patients with an approval from the  patients family. The patient has been diagnosed with liver tumor and underwent surgeries since 2014 in Vietnam and Singapore plus with matching status between patient and donor, surgeons decided to commit a liver transplant surgery on the patient suffering liver tumor from a brain dead patient in a difficult but successful 13-hours of surgery, and it also dubbed the youngest patient to involved in liver transplant surgery. This is contributed from latest science and tech development in Vietnam and also collaboration with other experts and families of both patients which caused the success of a liver transplant surgery.  Scientists from Institute for Military Science and Technology, under Ministry of Defense, has successfully produced  USB drive with VS key locking where it will store and backup data safely between computers and it is divided into three partition. Partition 1 has dedicated CD-ROM management software, Partition 2 contained secure password which preventing access to sensitive/personal data and partition 3 is safe formatting system where one can format the USB drive without losing all data inside the USB which will prevent data being lost due to virus/malware /hacker attacking our personal and company  PCs/laptops.

All of this achievement will be a motivation to all Vietnam’s science and tech industry players to continue upgrading its industry to ensure that Vietnam achieved advanced IT nation by 2020.