The Year of Geology 2016

Vietnam innovates and adapts

In 20 years, Vietnam has risen from a less developed country to a country of lower middle income, and rapid economic growth in the country looks set to continue. Finland has also supported Vietnam through various development cooperation projects. Currently, there are three ongoing projects, which are the last ones to be based on grants. After them, the countries will continue to have more extensive commercial and economic cooperation.

Finland’s areas of special expertise have traditionally been related to water and forests, but now also innovation activities are among the most important fields in the cooperation.

Vietnam has a vision of becoming an innovation nation. Innovation partnership with Finland means the development of innovation policy, cooperation between universities, and supporting startups through, for example, business incubators, says senior specialist Annika Kaipola from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Kaipola works at the Finnish embassy in Hanoi.

Startups in Vietnam are mainly built around different kinds of IT solutions. According to Kaipola, the doors are also open for Finnish companies, for which there are great opportunities in Vietnam.

The market of over 90 million people is growing and there are a lot of needs. Politically the environment is quite stable, and despite the communist system, companies have a possibility to do well. It might, however, require even more resilience and enthusiasm than usual.

One of the greatest needs in Vietnam is for environmental technologies , as well as adaptation measures and research minimising the impact of the climate change. GTK has also participated in projects of this kind.

We must prepare for changes

GTK and Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment are surveying the country’s water resources from the point of view of environmental changes. In regard to climate change, Vietnam is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

“The coastal regions are in danger when the sea level rises and salination increases,” says programme officer Minna Hares from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

“There are over 20 million people living in the Mekong Delta, and most of them get their livelihood from agriculture, rice farming and fishing. They are dependent on water and water quality,” Hares says.

The ICI project, funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, created models in two Vietnamese provinces.

“The Vietnamese told us that they try to replicate this valuable research data and modelling methodology in other regions. Results related to the water resources of a certain area are very local, and cannot be used to draw conclusions concerning the entire country,” Kaipola continues.

Minna Hares reminds us that the development of the local partner’s capacity is a central goal in projects of this kind.

“It is particularly valuable, that young experts from the partner organisation participate in the tasks, like in this project,” Hares explains.

Finland has worked with Vietnam since the 1970s. Hares and Kaipola encourage companies and research organisations to keep finding cooperation opportunities with Vietnam. You can expect new kinds of partnerships in the future.