The context of opening the economy has triggered the wave of startups and brought about many business opportunities in Vietnam.
On the sidelines of the "Navigate – Startup pitch event" held by the Training and Support Center for Technology Commercialization (TSC) under National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Development of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Hironobu Kitagawa, Chief Representative of JETRO shared his view towards the startup ecosystem in Vietnam and Japan with TheLEADER.
How do you assess Vietnam’s startup ecosystem? Could you name the main attraction of Vietnamese enterprises in the eyes of Japanese investors?
Hironobu Kitagawa: From my perspective, startups in Southeast Asia are attracting not only Japanese businesses but also businesses from the European region.
Japanese businesses often seek for partners who can help them realize new ideas and create new job opportunities. They consistently hold the desire of finding out potential businesses in a particular field, especially in technology, in order to combine those fields.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese enterprises have the strength of information technology (IT) with high quality human resources, which draws the attention of Japanese investors.
What do you think about the investment trends of Japanese enterprises in Vietnam in 2018?
Hironobu Kitagawa: The statistics on investment of Japanese enterprises in Vietnam in 2017 reflect a very positive result.
In 2017, the areas which Japanese enterprises invest in mainly are IT and manufacturing. Therefore, I think investors will continue to focus on these domains in 2018.
Are there any differences between startups in Vietnam and Japan?
Hironobu Kitagawa: The startups of Vietnam and Japan generally share some similarities.
In Vietnam, each business has certain capability when deciding to start a business. While in Japan, startups often embrace various ideas based on the assessment of Japanese market as well as the world market.
Vietnamese startups have great potential and technical capabilities. Therefore, the collaboration between Japanese enterprises' spirit and Vietnamese counterparts’ capabilities will bring about very good opportunities for the mutual development notably in the context of the revolution 4.0.
Do Japanese enterprises have any difficulties when operating and developing in Vietnam?
Hironobu Kitagawa: It is true that there are some difficulties for Japanese businesses. For example, Japanese companies operating in the agricultural sector are encountering problems related to land for production.
It is due to the fact that they do not know the procedures for doing business and expanding the premises. Therefore, if Vietnamese authority can guide them more detailedly and carefully, the problem will be resolved to some extent.
Actually, when it comes to investing in the agricultural sector, it is not just about producing but also relevant to other parts driven from agriculture. Pizza 4P's, a Japanese company investing in a field related to agriculture, exemplifies what I just said.
This is a typical example of successful Japanese enterprises in Vietnam market. In addition to being successful in operating chain of restaurants, they are also working efficiently in the whole supply chain, ranging from raising cows for meat to producing cheese or providing ingredients to make pizza.
What startups need to do to improve their competitiveness and attract more partners, not just partners in the same field, but also to develop partnerships with businesses from other sectors to create new models?
Hironobu Kitagawa: To attract partners and investors, businesses in any field must pay attention to promote their own business models.
That is very important as Vietnamese enterprises have great potential of IT, which is perfectly suitable for the development of interdisciplinary business. For instance, IT can combine with agriculture to develop high-tech agricultural models.
How to combine these two areas and boost agricultural productivity while reducing product costs is a practical idea. At present, many Japanese enterprises, who have their own technology, want to create a partnership with Vietnamese startups to achieve that goal.
Thank you very much!