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Commies copying West again as Vietnam plans own Silicon Valley

At least they didn't go with 'Digital Mekong' or something even lamer

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Over 35 years after the Vietnam war ended, the communist Asian state is looking to the good ol’ US for its inspiration with a new government backed initiative designed to make a success out of its emerging technology industry.

The Silicon Valley Vietnam (SVVN) project will see the government stump up an initial $400,000 in a bid to create an entire ecosystem, the like of which has served its Californian namesake so well.

According to a graphic seen by TechInAsia, this includes development of entrepreneurship; mentoring; seed capital; start-up accelerators; venture capital; and IPO support.

The project is also focused on commercialising scientific research in the way US companies do so well, and Vietnam has even invited experts from Silicon Valley to come and advise on the initiative.

It’s a nationwide project which will apparently begin with the creation of two start-up accelerators at either end of the country – one in Hanoi and the other in Ho Chi Minh city.

Other details are pretty sketchy at the moment but it’s certainly an ambitious plan from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The name aside, it remains to be seen how successful a government-directed project could actually be in nurturing a Silicon Valley-style ecosystem.

Things work so well in the US precisely because there is minimal state interference, after all.

One thing that might discourage budding entrepreneurs in Vietnam is the increasingly menacing interference by the government in restricting its citizens’ online freedoms.

A couple of months ago, for example, the government introduced Decree 72, a new law which the Asia Internet Coalition at the time warned “will stifle innovation and discourage businesses from operating in Vietnam”.

Just this week a 30-year-old man was placed under house arrest after campaigning on Facebook for the release of his brother from prison.

The country has nevertheless been on a relentless drive of late to turn itself into an advanced ICT nation.

Danang is at the centre of these efforts, having worked extensively with IBM to create a smart city project. It has also been helped by Intel, and in August launched an Information Technology and Communication Infrastructure System.

Vietnam’s IT ministry is predicting the enterprise IT market in the country could soon be worth over $1 billion. ®

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