Vietnam is aiming to take a leaf out of the US playbook after it unveiled the Silicon Valley Project, a domestic initiative backed by $400,000 that aims to build a Silicon Valley-style startup zone in the country, as the name indeed suggests.
Tech In Asia first reported about the project which flies in the face of two generally-held startup rules — don’t let governments into the ecosystem and don’t try to imitate Silicon Valley — nonetheless it has the making of an interesting initiative given the growth of the Internet among Vietnam’s 90 million population and that the government is involved.
Here’s how the official site describes the objectives — typos and all:
The Project seeks to create an ecosystem of innovations and technology commcercialization in Vietnam –by combing our Vietnamese entrepreneurial spirit and innovative nature with the most successful practices America has to offer in startup development and mentoring, accelerators, and venture capital funding and investing. And like America and Korea, the Government provides the needed support for stimulating startup growth and funding.
The brief hints at a five-year plan to “transform the landscape” of Vietnam’s startup scene, but it’s bereft of any concrete objectives or milestones.
This rather horrid looking chart — taken from a presentation which even the NSA would be ashamed of — shows how Vietnamese authorities are aiming to ape the Silicon Valley model:
As you can see, the objective is to develop promising ideas which become fully-fledged companies with exits, but the exact details as not as yet clear — in true South Park-style.
Jokes aside, there are some tangible developments coming. There will be two accelerator programs in the country’s two biggest cities — Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City — but nothing beyond that is clear.
The Tech In Asia report makes a valid point that startups in the project may be closely aligned to the government, which could help secure licenses, deals and other support — but a lot of question marks remain, and the program seems to cater for locals not foreigners.
For one thing, Vietnam’s attitude to the Internet is a concern. Rules adopted in August effectively ban the sharing of news online, so it’s quite the situation to be encouraging entrepreneurs and startups with one hand while severely cracking down on basic Internet freedoms with the other.
Headline image via Paul Cowan / Shutterstock