Finland’s Fund Helps Local Firms Cash in on Innovation

The Innovation Partnership Program (IPP) is a non-refundable aid by Finland for Vietnam to carry out a program that supports progress toward an industrialized, middle-income knowledge economy by 2020. 

Dau Tu Tai Chinh Newspaper caught up with Chu Van Thang, one of the program’s business management experts, to interview him about the aid.

Dau Tu Tai Chinh: What is IPP and who can be financed by the program?

Chu Van Thang: IPP is an ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) worth EURO5.6 million by Finland to Vietnam.

It is meant to strengthen the institutional environment for innovation in Vietnam, enhance science and technology management capacity of local agencies, and facilitate public and private partnerships between Vietnamese institutions and between Vietnamese and Finnish entities.

The program provides financial supports of 70 percent or less for local businesses’ innovation and also helps them set up business plans and decide whether they need to hire foreign experts for their innovation projects.

Is the word “innovation” too strong for Vietnamese businesses?

Innovation is meant to turn ideas, inventions or knowledge into commercial products. Surveys of the program said 85 percent of innovation projects funded by IPP would make small changes in products, while the remainders would enable the participants to create new products.

We can say that IPP help Vietnamese businesses to turn their ideas into money. Therefore, the program favors innovation projects, which are highly commercial.

Could you tell about a certain company having benefited from IPP?

There is a Mekong Delta-based seafood exporter, which is specific in breeding and exporting basa fishes.

We have hired foreign experts to help the firm improve their business. However, at the outset, the experts have not been welcomed widely since some leaders of the company were concerned they had no knowledge about Vietnam’s basa fish.

The company could eventually create a bigger breed, which provides extra materials, thanks to the foreign experts. The experts earned even more credit for consulting the firm about the global seafood demand.

Many Vietnamese businesses find themselves hardly afford foreign experts, who require high payments. Thus IPP’s assistance is very helpful for them.

Could you describe the procedure of assessing and approving a business’s request for IPP?

Businesses submit preliminary plans to IPP experts, who then opt for the most feasible ones. The select businesses have to submit detailed projects to the program’s steering board.

They will be expected to enter an agreement to officially attend the program.

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