Smart Solutions from Finland in Ho Chi Minh City

As part of the Week for Ho Chi Minh City Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship (WHISE 2018), celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Vietnam – Finland Diplomatic Relations, the Embassy of Finland in Hanoi and the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee co-organise the event “Smart Solutions from Finland” on 18 October, 2018. The event took place at Thames Hall, in, Ho Chi Minh City, implemented by Department of Science and Technology of Ho Chi Minh City and the Vietnam – Finland Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP).

The main topics discussed in this event included: 1) Building Smart and Innovative Cities for Future Prosperity, 2) Future Education – Challenges and Finnish solutions, 3) Digitalization & Data – Offering new business opportunities.

Due to the impressive economic growth and declining poverty Vietnam has seen in the past years, Finnish development cooperation with Vietnam is now decreasing and new forms of bilateral cooperation are being formed. Finland is well known for its flourishing start-up ecosystem and has been happy to support Vietnam in the country’s efforts of becoming an innovation-driven knowledge economy and a Startup Nation. The collaboration between the two countries has been supported through the Embassy of Finland in Hanoi and since 2008 especially through the Vietnam – Finland Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP).

Continuing the success of WHISE 2017, the event is a unique joint effort between public and private sectors to showcase the vibrant start-up and innovation scene in HCMC As the city of HCMC aspires to develop the city into a modern smart city, the WHISE 2018 intended to create a new impetus for the development of local star-up and innovation ecosystems. With the participation of the government, academia, enterprises, venture capital funds and more stakeholders the common goal of building a prestigious City for start+up and innovation in the region can be achieved.

Keynote speakers from Finland were: H.E Mr. Kari Kahiluoto, Ambassador of Finland to Vietnam; H.E. Mr. Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs of Finland; Mr. Riku Mäkelä,
Trade & Innovation Counsellor, Embassy of Finland in Singapore; Ms. Kristina Kaihari, Counsellor of Education, Finnish National Agency for Education; Mr. Armodio Corrado, Global VP of Operations Difitek Inc.; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thuc, University of Sciences, Vietnam National University – HCMC.

The sessions included the following topics:

Building Smart & Innovative Cities

Innovation Cities are planned and built to boost industrial renewal and business development towards high value creation. However urban planning and co-location of innovation actors in one district doesn’t guarantee the expected outcomes. Evidence shows that true Innovation Growth Engines are needed in their core. And these engines require a comprehensive, internationally proven Innovation Hub framework to be developed. HCMC has an agenda to become an Innovation City.

Typically innovation ecosystems are organized around a hub organization like a science-technology park/district, or alternatively a regional cluster management office. But, it should be noted that a innovation hub is a much wider concept than only a park or coordination office. It has all the regional innovation ecosystem elements, starting from supportive policies ending with global market-driven business development activities.

This session brought in experienced Finnish experts engaged in building of Innovation Agendas worldwide.

Future Education

Reforming the Education System is one of the key priorities in Vietnam to meet the human resource quality needs for industrial renewal. Education is the key element to be developed for the knowledge driven economy. The education system in Vietnam is facing challenges in many areas including curriculum development, teaching methodologies and capacities inclusive the emerging need for entrepreneurship education.

In 2016, Finnish schools throughout the country adopted a new curriculum: phenomenon based learning. This approach gears learning towards solving real-world problems and acquiring 21’st century skills. Digital solutions, innovative school buildings and the surrounding city are integral parts of the new curriculum. Finland also excels in teacher and adult training, professional and vocational education, and recently has started to export its solutions. This session facilitated dialog between Finnish experts and Vietnamese education actors to discussÖ What is important in the education reform? What could be done between Finnish and Vietnamese counterparts to develop this sector in Vietnam¬?

Quality education has today a crucial role in the knowledge-driven world. Students are expected to be socially responsible, contribute to the economic development and social transformation. This expectation calls education teaching and learning to foster personal attributes such as critical thinking, analytical problem-solving, negotiation and mediation competencies. Entrepreneurship education is to develop knowledge, skills and attributes that support the four key characteristics of an entrepreneur in real world contexts: motivation, opportunity identification, risk-uncertainty and the ability to network. A keynote presentation gave insights how entrepreneurship education fosters students personal attributes for innovation and entrepreneurship.

A batch of leading Finnish education solution providers also presented their offerings for Vietnam which span from early childhood education to adult education, continuous skills’ developments and cutting edge EduTech solutions.

Digitalisation & Data

This B2B session engaged the Finnish VMAP and other companies inclusive their case managers and the extended IPP network interested in digitalization and data solutions. The goal was to discuss Vietnam B2B partnering opportunities and provision of talent resources for Finnish data driven businesses. The overall aim was to clarify and share views on the global digitalization trends and recent developments in Vietnam which are offering new business partnership opportunities in many areas inclusive the financial market.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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