Vietnam Innovation Summit 2023: Innovation For A Greener Vietnam in short

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November 25th and 26th, 2023 witnessed the resounding success of the Vietnam Innovation Summit 2023, where innovation took centre stage. 

Vietnam Innovation Summit is an annual event hosted by InnoLab Asia in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology, and this year, supported by VinFast, Asian Development bank, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian federal government, NFQ, Lazada and Lead The Change.

Vietnam Innovation Summit 2023 came back with the theme “Innovation for a Greener Vietnam” which focused on offering innovative solutions for a sustainable Vietnam while navigating ESG (environmental, social, and governance) challenges.

VIS 2023 welcomed an impressive assembly of over 1000 attendees, representing a diverse cross-section of industries, with individuals from various sectors and backgrounds from 20 different countries  converging on a common platform, Vietnam Innovation Summit 2023. Their shared commitment to fostering sustainable development in Vietnam underscored the significance of the summit as a unifying force for positive change.

A notable highlight was the Booth Exhibition, featuring the participation of over 30 companies showcasing their innovative solutions. Of particular distinction was the visit of the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Mr. Pham Minh Chinh, to the startup booths hosted by InnoLab Asia from both Vietnam and Korea. His Excellency’s expressed interest in the startups’ portfolios marked a significant moment, emphasizing the summit’s recognition and support from the highest echelons of leadership.

Mr. Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of Vietnam
Mr. Phan Van Mai, Mayor of Ho Chi Minh City

The summit hosted a series of compelling discussions, totaling 10 speeches and interactive sessions. Over 30 influential speakers, including policymakers, governmental agencies, regional funds, leading corporations, fast-growing startups, accelerators, and global influencers, actively engaged in insightful dialogues. These discussions delved into real stories and pragmatic solutions, unravelling the complexities of achieving a greener Vietnam through innovation.

The event kicked off with enlightening speeches from distinguished guests Mr. Agustaviano Sofjan, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in HCMC, and Mr. Daniel Stork, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ho Chi Minh City. Our honourable speakers passionately delved into the green movements of their respective countries, shedding light on the remarkable strides in sustainability within the Netherlands and the outstanding business initiatives in Indonesia. Their insights underscored the collective effort required from all stakeholders—individuals, organisations, and governments—to drive meaningful innovation for a greener Vietnam. Their speeches set the tone for a summit that not only explores innovative solutions but also emphasises the imperative of united efforts to make a lasting impact on Vietnam’s sustainable future.

Mr. Agustaviano Sofjan
Mr. Daniel Stork
Mr. Cong-Thang Huynh

In a thought-provoking keynote, Dr. Bert Grobben, the Founder & CEO of Budding Innovation, unfolded the narrative of the Green Transformation, paving the way for a more sustainable and environmentally conscious Vietnam. With over two decades of expertise in Corporate Global Open Innovation, he shared invaluable insights on Vietnam’s sustainable journey. Highlighting achievements in solar and wind energy, as well as a monumental Green Urban Development project, Dr. Grobben emphasised the country’s unique advantages, particularly in Coastal and Marine Resource Management. Addressing corporate challenges, he underscored the significance of policy and corporate innovation, providing strategic advice for navigating the intricacies of green transformation. 

Dr. Bert Grobben

In a compelling keynote, Ms. Dženeta Mulabegović, Sustainability Specialist at UNDP emphasized the critical role of ESG (Economical, Social, and Corporate Governance) principles. She highlighted the diverse benefits ESG brings to businesses and the nation, aligning with Vietnam’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions. In her address, she also called for the role of ESG ambassadors, recognizing their essential contribution in guiding businesses towards responsible practices with a powerful message: “We need you more than ever”.

Ms. Dženeta Mulabegović

The inaugural panel discussion, “Driving Corporate Innovation for a Sustainable Future in Vietnam” featured prominent leaders: Ms. Nguyen Thanh Thao (Senior Manager, Business Development at Qualcomm), Ms. Michele Wee (CEO at Standard Chartered Bank), Mr. Vo Quang Hue (Former Deputy CEO at Vingroup), Mr. Phan Minh Thong (Chairman at Phuc Sinh Corporation), and Mr. Anirban Roy (Senior Partner at InnoLab Asia). The panel offered a rich tapestry of insights into driving corporate innovation for a sustainable future in Vietnam, unveiling strategies to embrace change, foster creativity, and navigate the evolving business landscape. Speaking on innovation, Mr. Quang Hue conveyed, “Vision and thought leadership lay at the heart of innovation, with a subsequent emphasis on empowering both talents and companions”.

In the second riveting panel discussion, “Open Innovation: Collaborating for Green Breakthroughs”, a distinguished lineup of industry leaders gathered to explore the complexities of fostering open innovation for sustainable progress. The panel, moderated by Dr. Huan Tran, CTO at SonKim Group, featured insights from Mr. Takeru Kawashima (Executive Director at 01Booster), Mr. Takehito Nishiyama (CEO at Greenphard Energy), Mr. Ludovic Toison (CTO at NFQ) and Mr. Quang Pham (General Partner/Executive Investment Committee Member at ABB Private Equity). In the dynamic arena of sustainability, this discussion served as a compass, unraveling the intricacies of open innovation and its role in propelling green initiatives forward.

In the afternoon, Mr. Viet Nguyen, Head of Technology Investment at Vietnam Investment Group, took the stage for Keynote 3: “Vietnam Innovation and Investment Landscape in 2023” addressing challenges across the investment lifecycle, with a spotlight on exits, the discussion emphasized the pivotal role local funds now play in fortifying the venture ecosystem. 

The Panel Discussion 3, “The Future of Innovation and ESG: Trends and Opportunities”  were honored to welcome a distinguished lineup, Mr. Cong Thang Huynh (Co-Founder & CEO at InnoLab Asia), Dr. Morgan Donovan Carroll (ESG Director at Vingroup & Vinfast), Mr. Pekka Laitinen (Regional Director Southeast Asia and Oceania at Business Finland), Ms. Giang Nguyen (Sustainability & ESG Manager at Bitis), and Mr. Vu Duc Thinh (Chief Logistics Officer at Lazada Vietnam). Moderated by Mr. Cong Thang Huynh, the panel delved into current trends in the intersection of Innovation and ESG. 

Crowdpitch 2023 - ESG

Diving into the innovation sphere, Crowdpitch Vietnam takes centre stage. In collaboration with InnoLab Asia and the Department of Science and Technology, Crowdpitch Vietnam is a vital initiative providing a platform for startups to pitch, garner exposure, and thrive within a dynamic community of mentors and entrepreneurs. This session was dedicated to ESG, featuring pitches from five exceptional startups pioneering in this field:

  • Gooride: Connecting green mobility through bicycles, creating an ecosystem for the cycling community in Vietnam.
  • OptiCloud: Dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of Cloud Computing, advancing green IT solutions.
  • Cenergy: Focused on developing redox flow battery (RFB) technology for innovative energy storage solutions.
  • AirX Carbon: Leading in green material solutions, reducing carbon emissions for partners like Bitis, TTC, MUJI, and more.
  • Skindex Technology: Introducing an AI-driven mobile application for detecting facial skin issues and personalizing skincare routines for young women.
AirX Carbon

The Crowdpitch event was enriched by the invaluable contributions of our esteemed panel of judges, Mr. Huynh Cong Thang (Co-Founder & CEO at InnoLab Asia), Dr. Nimnual Piewthongngam (Chairperson, SME Committee at Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand), Mr. Quang Pham (General Partner/Executive Investment Committee Member at ABB Private Equity), Mr. Takeru Kawashima (Executive Director at 01Booster Inc), Ms. Le Van Anh (Talent Manager in Vietnam and SEA at Business Finland). 

Make The Future Green Award Gala Dinner

The pinnacle of the evening session at Vietnam Innovation Summit 2023 was the Make The Future Green Award Gala Dinner — a celebration transcending beyond mere dining. It stood as a testament to innovation, sustainability, and the commendable accomplishments steering positive change. Ms. Emily Hamblin, Consul General of the United Kingdom in Ho Chi Minh City, set the tone with her opening remarks, marking the commencement of an inspiring evening dedicated to recognizing and honoring initiatives that contribute to a greener future. 

Ms. Linh Hoang, Director at Lead The Change, delivered a keynote on “Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage: Unlocking Opportunities for Growth” with a focus on Lead The Change’s impactful “Give It Back” project, Ms. Hoang underscored the pivotal role of sustainability in driving growth. Her insights resonated as a compelling call for businesses to integrate sustainability strategically, not only as a responsibility but as a dynamic force for long-term success. 

A beacon of recognition, Make the Future Green Award shone a spotlight on exceptional efforts in shaping a more sustainable Vietnam. Guiding the ceremony, Mr. Dan Vardie, Founder & Chairman at AUTOBEST, unveiled deserving winners. 

  • Outstanding Industrial Project Award: VinFast
  • Exemplary Green Commercial Fleet Award: Lado Taxi 
  • Crowdpitch ESG Startup Award: OptiCloud
Lado Taxi

The Make the Future Green Award trophy, meticulously crafted from natural bamboo tubes, stands as more than just a distinctive piece of art. Beyond symbolizing the celebration of outstanding sustainability efforts, the bamboo tube trophy serves as a vibrant emblem of our collective dedication to safeguarding and honoring the environment. It resonates as a powerful symbol of sustainability, echoing the values and principles that underpin the award and the ongoing journey toward a greener and more responsible future.

Day 2: Impact of the Transition to Electric Vehicles in Vietnam

As an integral part of the ongoing Vietnam Innovation Summit (VIS) 2023 event series, the workshop “Impact of the Transition to Electric Vehicles in Vietnam” unfolded on November 26th. Offering a unique platform for substantive discussions, the event delved into the multifaceted consequences of Vietnam’s shift towards electric vehicles, spanning environmental, socio-economic, and political dimensions. 

Mr. Cong Thang Huynh, Co-founder & CEO of Innolab Asia sharing in Day 2's welcoming speech

Ms. Eline Van Der Veen, Deputy Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, paved the way for the day with her insightful opening remarks, marking the commencement of a day filled with meaningful insights and collaborative exploration into the transformative landscape of electric mobility in Vietnam.

Ms. Tran Huong Giang, Head of Experimentation at UNDP Accelerator Lab, shared valuable perspectives on the pivotal topic of “Environmental Impacts of Electric Vehicles and Opportunities for Vietnam”. Her session delved into a thorough examination of the environmental consequences associated with electric vehicles, offering nuanced insights into the potential opportunities they bring to Vietnam. Ms. Giang’s expertise provided a thoughtful exploration of the intricate relationship between electric mobility and environmental sustainability within the Vietnamese context.

Dr. Morgan Donovan Carroll, ESG Director at Vingroup & VinFast, took the stage to deliver an insightful speech on “Electric Vehicle Transition and the Future of Energy in Vietnam”. His presentation navigated the landscape of electric vehicle transitions, offering a glimpse into the future of energy in Vietnam. Dr. Carroll’s expertise brought a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities posed by this transformative journey, providing the audience with valuable insights into the evolving dynamics of the country’s energy landscape.

The stage was set for a dynamic panel discussion on “Electric Vehicle Transition in Vietnam: Solutions and Challenges”, featuring esteemed speakers, Dr. Nguyen Tran Phi Yen (Chief Business Officer at Quickom), Dr. Morgan Donovan Carroll (ESG Director at Vingroup & VinFast), Mr. Trung Pham (Head of Operations & Finance at Dat Bike), and Mr. Le Hoang Anh (Founder & CEO at Ecotruck). This engaging session brought together a wealth of expertise, offering a comprehensive exploration of solutions and challenges in the electric vehicle transition landscape in Vietnam. Each panelist shared valuable insights, contributing to a nuanced understanding of the complexities and opportunities inherent in steering the country towards a sustainable and electrified future..

Closing the chapter on the Vietnam Innovation Summit 2023, the resounding success emphasizes innovation’s pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable future for Vietnam. The journey toward sustainability is a team endeavor, calling for the coordinated efforts of individuals, organizations, and government entities.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our partners, speakers, distinguised guests and participants for your valuable contributions to the success of the program. Your commitment to fostering innovation and sustainability in Vietnam is truly commendable. 

Looking ahead, we anticipate reconvening in 2024 for another chapter of insightful discussions, groundbreaking ideas, and collaborative endeavours. Together, we can continue to pave the way for a more innovative, sustainable, and prosperous Vietnam. Until we meet again in 2024, let the spirit of innovation guide our collective efforts toward a brighter and greener future.

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