Thye Yeow Bok, Head of Startup Ecosystem, South Asia Frontier and Greater China Region, Google Asia Pacific, told The Hanoi Times about efforts and expectations as a strong supporter to develop high-quality tech human resources in Vietnam.
I strongly agree. Vietnam has a big potential talent pool in tech industry and from early days, the 'society' standards for a 'successful career' in Vietnam has recognized 'IT engineer' among other esteemed careers like doctors, lawyers and bankers. This provides a great push and confidence for the best minds to pursue computer science or IT education alongside medicine, law. As a result, Vietnam has a good and talented workforce in the technology industry.
Another thing I've personally noticed is that while the global economy is going through its turbulent time and arguably shrinking, Vietnam's economy is expanding, with several industries going through digital transformation, and I think all of this comes from the fact that the country has a very young tech-savvy population.
From 2016 to 2023, in the short span of seven years, the country has created tech unicorns and startups that are developing innovative solutions using AI [artificial intelligence], blockchain, and others. The demand for education among Vietnamese young people is now very high, as they have a strong ability to absorb new knowledge and have quick access to information through the Internet. Therefore, they are able to see the market trends, especially in the technology field, which is one of the emerging fields in Vietnam today.
Google has always been a strong supporter and enabler of Vietnam's digital transformation, as it aligns perfectly with our goal of creating digital opportunities for every Vietnamese.
To achieve a successful digital transformation, we focus on two key areas: training the workforce in digital skills and driving the growth of local businesses that are key to the country's digital economy, of which tech startups are one of the main drivers.
Last year, we launched 'Google for Startups: Startup Academy Vietnam' with the Vietnam National Innovation Center to provide 50 potential Vietnamese startups across the country with early-stage training and mentorship networks to accelerate their entrepreneurial journey.
This year, we expanded the Google for Startups' initiative for the local startup ecosystem in Vietnam with a more intensive approach. The launch of the Google for Startups Accelerator, Southeast Asia: Vietnam but pha doi moi' continues our long-term commitment to supporting Vietnam's economic growth by accelerating the development of local startups through intensive training, mentorship and networking opportunities for Vietnamese entrepreneurs.
We are excited to continue our partnership with NIC and the US Mission in Vietnam, pooling our resources to help them accelerate to the next level and eventually expand globally.
Since 2015, Google has been implementing global projects and local initiatives in Vietnam to support the local workforce. For the workforce, we have various programs such as Accelerate Vietnam Digital 4.0, which provides digital skills training for employees in 650,000 small businesses, or Google Career Certificate, which provides 20,000 scholarships for students and workers who want to learn and earn a professional certificate in data analytics, digital marketing, project manager, and others.
Other programs, such as Coding for the Future or Google Developer Student Clubs (GDG), provide more focused coding training to the country's young generation from elementary school through university.
Last year, the Hoa Sen GDG club won the top prize at Google's Global Solutions Challenge (along with two other teams from Germany and Canada), a strong testament to the success of these educational initiatives.
With the 'Google for Startups: Startup Academy Vietnam' last year, we saw some successes from the startups that joined the program. For example, Momby - a personal assistant application for parents -has been scaling up its app adoption with 35,000 users, while Benkon successfully closed a seed round with its energy saving solution.
After the first year of launching the Google for Startups initiative in Vietnam, we have a lot of lessons to reflect on:
We find that startups in Vietnam need support to identify a strong product market fit for them, where they can scale and build a sustainable business in the long term.
Google, together with the Vietnam National Innovation Center (NIC) [under the Ministry of Planning and Investment] and the US Mission, can help bring in industry experts who have been through this journey before and can share both failures to avoid and successful tips and best practices for Vietnamese startups.
Second, Vietnamese entrepreneurs need to understand that they have the potential to go global from day one.
There's nothing wrong with focusing on local problems. But many of their solutions are very applicable in other countries. And if they set their horizon to global from day one, it will just help them to realize their potential faster and faster, and I strongly believe that the content that we are providing and the curriculum that we are putting together through this program this year will help to instill a global mindset among the entrepreneurs.
We see ourselves as an enabler, supporter and partner through our helpful products, seamless global platforms and innovative digital solutions.
Aligned with the government's action plan to drive digital transformation, our partners' ambitious goal to make Vietnam the global hub of innovation, and striving for the best of inclusive digital economy growth, Google is committed to contributing to Vietnam's tech industry with our global resources, digital expertise, and leadership in AI.
Thank you for your time!