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University spin-offs difficult to establish because of outdated thinking

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While university “spin-offs” occur in developed countries, it remains an unfamiliar concept in Vietnam.

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The co-working space BKHoldings reserves for startups

Ten years ago, the Hanoi University of Science & Technology (HUST) became the first tertiary education establishment in Vietnam to ask for the Ministry of Education and Training’s (MOET) permission to set up BKHoldings, a system of businesses to capitalize the school’s intellectual properties – achievements from its scientific research. 

Though it is leading technology university in Vietnam, HUST still has difficulties in stimulating innovation and encouraging startups. 

When asked why Vietnam’s universities still cannot generate successful spin-offs, some analysts said the problem lies in limited financial capability.

However, Nguyen Trung Dung, CEO of BKHoldings of HUST, believes the biggest obstacle is in the inadequate awareness of the importance of innovation, technology transfer, and intellectual property rights (IPR) in universities and society.

Large prestigious universities in the world play a very important role, or drive the development of industrial revolutions. The schools have to undergo internal revolutions to implement their missions. They not only transfer knowledge through training activities, but also create new knowledge through research and development activities.

In Vietnam, science and technology development is still at a low level in comparison with the world. Universities only focus on training, while the concepts of innovation, technology transfer, intellectual property and spin-off remain unfamiliar and don’t receive appropriate attention.

In Vietnam, science and technology development is still at a low level in comparison with the world. Universities only focus on training, while the concepts of innovation, technology transfer, intellectual property and spin-off remain unfamiliar and don’t receive appropriate attention.

Linus Wiebe, Innovation Director at Lund University, commented that there is a gap in thinking between academia and the business community. These obstacles faced by Vietnamese universities once existed in Sweden.

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The biggest obstacle is the lack of professional specialists in innovation and technology transfer. Most schools go their own way. The use of a team with an academic approach to run a business is one reason behind spin-offs’ failure.

The other obstacle lies in limited financial capability. Universities in Vietnam consider training their major task and don’t make investments to develop spin-offs because of limited financial capability. Sometimes they only contribute capital with used workshops or machines and brands.

In 2017, Linus Wiebe came to Hanoi to give consultancy to BKHoldings within the framework of SwissEP Program. Three spin-offs successfully switched from subsidized centers at universities to businesses which can make a profit. 

However, the spin-offs mostly operate in the field of science and technology consultancy, and are not really like spinoffs in the rest of the world. 

Kim Chi

Source: VietNamNet

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