Ho Chi Minh City—A creative destination

Wednesday, 2017-02-01 12:49:12
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A corner of Ho Chi Minh City. (Credit: NDO/Ngo Thi Thu Ba)
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NDO—As a major hub for the southern region and the country as a whole, Ho Chi Minh City is seen as a wide-open door for creativity and youthfulness. Such dynamic action plays as key role in creating a diverse and attractive identity for the city.

In 2016, the story of business incubators conveys an important message to the city to begin a new stage in its development. As a special urban area in the key southern economic region, Ho Chi Minh City aims by 2020 to have at least 500,000 enterprises. The private economic sector would contribute about 65% of its Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) and approximately 64% of the total social investment in the city.

A detailed plan was enacted; accordingly, by 2020 the city will provide direct and indirect support to around 2,000 startup projects through consulting, training, connecting and incubating activities. The city will also save 40,000m2 of space for the startup community and construct two incubators meeting international standards.

It will spend a budget of about VND2 trillion to support and encourage enterprises to renew their equipment and apply science and technology, plus providing VND1 trillion to support individual business households to switch business models.

Meanwhile, during conferences on the city’s development, Politburo member and Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Dinh La Thang has confirmed that along with the goal of building the a civilised and modern city with a good living quality, Ho Chi Minh City is striving to become a national centre in the field of startups.

As fifth-year students at the University of Transport’s Ho Chi Minh City branch, Tran Viet Long and his classmates are finishing their studies on “hollow concrete.” This newly invented concrete allows water to permeate while still while ensuring its strength, reducing standing water on roads. Long and his Vietnamese team are continuing to improve the efficiency of their products and increase the strength concrete to be applied to other different kind of work. “If the product is put into use, it will have a lower price compared to normal concrete, and we hope to be successful with this startup project,” Long shares.

In the Creative Youth Festival 2016 held by the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union, many experts and young people were impressed by a startup idea of a “parking solution to save space” by Nguyen Phi Bang. With its space-thrift and anti-flooding function, Bang’s parking system for automobiles is an optimal solution for families who live in big cities.

Last year, innovative ideas by Long and Bang, along with 300 other projects and 700 startuppers, received support. Activities by the city’s Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and relevant departments all head to startup stories by youngsters. The shape of a modern knowledge city has begun to take shape in everyone’s mind.

Also in 2016, many people referred to a conference gathering overseas Vietnamese (OVs) held in the city as a testament to its ability to attract talent. A short time after the event, OVs gave much of their sentiment for the city through ideas contributed to help build a modern and civilised urban area.

A youngster presents his startup project to Ho Chi Minh City’s authorities.

Nguyen Huu Thai Hoa, an overseas Vietnamese in Canada expressed his belief that Ho Chi Minh City was an ideal place to build a startup incubator and would become a new transaction gateway for Asian intellectuals. Hi-tech startup incubators would promote and support startup projects, paving the way for the nation’s successful startup path, and Ho Chi Minh City was a convenient place to realise that dream.

Dr. Nguyen Tri Dung, who spent nearly 50 years living and working in Japan, returned home and chose Ho Chi Minh City to start his significant projects. His Dream Incubator will call for and gather international experts and scientists to Ho Chi Minh City in particular and to Vietnam in general for scientific and technical transfers and supporting Vietnam’s economic development.

With its important role and special position, the development of the “dynamic city” always has a major impact on the region and the country. In 2016, more good news emerged as the city met and surpassed important targets. Its GRDP reached over VND1 quadrillion, up 8.05% over the same period; budget revenues at VND303.8 trillion, reaching 101.85% of the estimate; social investment capital reaching VND310.3 trillion, representing 30% of GRDP. In particular, investment by the non-state sector climbed to more than VND200 trillion, up more than 12%. The city created more than 130,000 new jobs and helped 20,000 households escape poverty.

These numbers have drawn the confidence of a city full of youthfulness and creativity. When facing trouble, the whole city has united to find solutions. This fine tradition and typical characteristics deserves recognition.

Ho Chi Minh City enters the Lunar New Year with new challenges. Experts predict that by 2020 it will be a “megacity” with a population of about 10 million. In the 2011-2015 period, the average growth rate of labour productivity was 5.6% (VND174.7 million per employee). With the goal of becoming a centre for innovation and startups in Vietnam, the city leaders set a target of recording an average 6.5% increase of labour productivity during 2016-2020, while every year having approximately 30-35% of the city’s businesses with innovative and creative activities.

Sharing difficulties with other localities across the nation, Ho Chi Minh City’s decision to retain 18% of its budget collection would make it difficult for the city to balance investment funds, but that’s also a driving force for the city’s attempts to find a new development path.

Drastic measures have been specifically proposed to ensure that investment plans balance with economic development, addressing the urgent issues of infrastructure such as preventing flooding, facilitating urban development and ensuring social security. Nguyen Thanh Phong, a member of the Party Central Committee and Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee frankly pointed out that the city has not realised its potential; there are still many areas to make breakthroughs in with suitable policies and mechanisms. The city needs to promote its advantages in terms of capital, labour force, science and technology and governance. The tourism industry should also be exploited to its full potential.

As the door has opened, youngsters still come to Ho Chi Minh City to begin their own startup stories. Every effort will produce sweet fruit, with effort, creativity, dynamism and strong sentiments. The city’s residents and fans all believe so!

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