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From Merlion to Mekong: Singaporean and Vietnamese agencies sign startup MOU

y e27 Kevin McSpadden

The MOU will help provide a support network for startups, VCs and stakeholders looking to foster relationships between Singapore and Vietnam

Two Southeast Asian agencies — Singapore’s Action Community of Entrepreneurship (ACE) and Vietnam’s National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Development (NATEC) — signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) over the weekend to foster a relationship of support between the two startup nations.

The term ‘support’ included a provision to foster venture capital development as well as other more broad initiatives.

Specifically, this means making co-working spaces as a ‘point of contact’ for startups and VCs looking to connect with one another. It also means a commitment towards creating workshops, networking events and a support system for startups. Finally, NATEC and ACE will work together to market and promote one another’s events.

ACE is a private-sector led group that works to help young entrepreneurs get off the ground. NATEC is part of Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology and has been at the centre of the country’s drive to build a more robust startup ecosystem.

“We are delighted to collaborate with NATEC, Vietnam to promote entrepreneurial exchanges. With a population of more than 94 million people, Vietnam is an important market in Asia-Pacific where start-ups can stand to gain a firm standing,” said Dr. Mark Hon, Chairman of ACE, in an official statement.

“Our partnerships with overseas organisations, such as NATEC in Vietnam, will not only offer our entrepreneurs valuable market access, but also serve as a landing point for foreign start-ups looking to venture into Singapore and the ASEAN region.”

Vietnam has become a darling startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia. Many stakeholders are pointing towards significant macroeconomic growth (GDP saw a 6.7 per cent annual growth in 2015, according to the World Bank) and two burgeoning startup hubs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh respectively.

For Singaporeans, this initiative is a avenue in which to explore opportunities in Vietnam.

From the other direction, Singapore is considered one of the most developed ecosystems in the region and would be a place of interest for Vietnamese startups as they get off the runway. ACE hopes it can act as a landing point for these companies trying to build relationships in Singapore.

ACE works closely with SPRING Singapore, an agency under the Ministry of Trade that works to help Singaporean enterprises grow. The agency was launched in 2003 as part of an effort to build Singapore into a creative and entrepreneurial city.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Mark Hon, Chairman of ACE and Dr. Pham Hong Quat, General Director of NATEC, on Saturday.