On October 1st 2021, Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD – United Way Vietnam), National Economics University and United Way Worldwide, the chair and co-chairs of Social Challenge and Innovation Village held the Official Launch of Social Innovation Festivial – Shinhan S2 (Square) Bridge Vietnam Model. The event was attended by Mr. Tran Van Tung – Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Lee Taekyung – CEO of Shinhan Bank Vietnam, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Hong Chuong – President of National Economics University, Ms. Hooyung Young, Vice President of United Way Worldwide in Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Linh – Executive Director of MSD – Chair of the Village, and more than 200 participants who were state officials, Co-chair of the Village, speakers, social investors, innovative start-ups and the youth.
With Vietnam’s transition to a higher value economy, the country is facing different social challenges such as connecting job opportunities to the youth with different skill sets, inequality in access to education, the inclusion of disadvantaged groups and environmental health issues… In particular, the COVID-19 crisis has triggered the uncertainty and increased the vulnerability of this undersevered population.
Addressing social challenges is not only a social concern but also the misson of businesses to meet the needs of customers on a comprehensive level, which both ensures economic efficiency and integrates social solutions while working towards sustainable development. This is also a trend in the new era that attracts investors, especially in the context during and after COVID.
Under the slogan “Live United – Creating trends, leading changes for a sustainable Vietnam”, Social Challenge and Innovation Village, which is led by Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD)/United Way Vietnam and National Economics University, United Way Worldwide, is going to organize a wide range of activities within the framework of National TECHFEST 2021. The Village receives technical and financial support from Shinhan Square Bridge and The National Program 844. The main activities of the Festival include: Ideas Incubation program, social innovative start-ups projects, Social innovative startup contest “Future Solution”, products display activities to connect the market and connect social investment, etc. In addition, Shinhan Square Bridge Vietnam model was also introduced as a model that has been effectively applied in Vietnam to promote social innovation start-up ecosystem.
In the opening speech of the Event, Deputy Minister Tran Van Tung said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is posing a lot of social problems. Social innovation startups have the opportunity and responsibility in addressing these challenges. I highly appreciate the initiative to form a Social Innovation and Challenge Village within the framework of the National Techfest 2021 with the chairmanship of the Management and Sustainable Development Institute, United Way Worldwide, National Economics University, Happy Women Leader Network. I warmly applaud Shinhan Financial Group for devoting resources to promoting social innovation in Vietnam through a cross-border and cross-sector collective impact initiative, designing and building an inclusive community that gives opportunities for all in the Shinhan Square Bridge model. I believe that along with the resources from social investors, the Social Innovation and Challenge Village within the framework of the Techfest will create an attractive and informative playground, efficiency in attracting and developing social innovation startup projects as well as attracting investment resources for social innovation.”
As a prominent social investor in Vietnam, Mr. Lee Taekyung – General Director of Shinhan Bank Vietnam stated: “I am very pleased and highly appreciate the dedicated leadership of state agencies in promoting national initiative programs, building Vietnamese start-up ecosystem that other countries are eager to learn from. I am very pleased to accompany the Social Innovation and Challenge Village to carry out these very interesting activities. We are facing a lot of difficulties, uncertainties and unprecedented global challenges, which we cannot cope with alone. I believe in the power of innovation startups and in the entrepreneurial spirit of young people.”
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Pham Hong Chuong, President of National Economics University also stated that: “As the co-chair of Social Innovation and Challenge Village – a new village was established in TECHFEST 2021 to jointly promote innovative initiatives to address urgent problems. As an educational institution, we always focus on promoting creative entrepreneurship for students and the community. Hopefully, with the efforts of the Social Innovation and Challenge Village, the activities within the framework of TECHFEST 2021 will be implemented effectively with many projects directly solving social problems. The launch of the Village is just the beginning of cooperation between government agencies, businesses, social organizations, institutes, etc. In the future, we will create an innovative startup ecosystem that integrates, develops sustainably, brings a better life to Vietnamese people.”
On behalf of the Organization Board, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Linh – Executive Director of MSD – Chair of Social Challenge and Innovation Village shared about the special points of the village in considering innovative start-ups as the center and proactively working with all stakeholders, the pillars of development to promote the social innovation ecosystem. Ms. Linh Nguyen affirmed: “The immediate social challenges stemming from COVID-19 in terms of education, health, employment, environment, etc. have proved that solving social problems is also a need and concern of customers. I think this is a trend and also a chance for innovative startups to turn risks into opportunities when technologies and the application of new business model are in need to solve social problems. The Social Challenge and Innovation Village wishes to call for the connection of all pillars to build an ecosystem aiming at supporting social innovative start-ups: the state, social investors, domestic and international social organizations, institute-university. We believe that a united ecosystem that promotes social innovative start-up initiatives will contribute to the goal of a strong, equal and sustainably developed Vietnam”
After the Festival Launching, the Workshop on the Introduction of Shinhan Square Bridge Model applied in social innovation and the Expert Discussion on Promoting social innovation ecosystem in Vietnam were animated. The discussion had the participation of Mr. Pham Hong Quat – General Director of National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Development; Ms. Hooyung Young – Vice President of United Way Worldwide in Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan; Ms. Nguyen Phi Van – Chairwoman of Vietnam Angel Investor Network; Mr. Tran Quang Hung – Deputy Secretary of Hanoi Youth Union – President of Vietnamese Students’ Association in Hanoi; Assoc.Prof.Dr. Do Huong Lan from National Economics University/Co-chair of the Village and was moderated by Ms. Tran Van Anh – Program Director of MSD/UW Vietnam/ Co-chair of the Village.
Sharing about international experiences and trends in promoting social innovations, Ms. Hooyung Young introduced Shinhan Square Bridge model in Vietnam. “This is a living lab model that connects all parties together in a common ecosystem. The model is being implemented effectively by United Way Worldwide, MSD along with Vietnamese and Korean startups, in combination with social organizations, the institutes/schools, and also with the support of local state agencies in 7 cities and provinces. The model is expected to continue to be replicated to spread the ecosystem of social innovation.”
Regarding current trends in investment, Ms. Nguyen Phi Van said: “Angel investors and venture capital funds nowadays are interested and eager to invest in projects that create social impact, especially those aiming at addressing the problems emerging from COVID-19 such as medicine and health, particularly mental health, etc. The social objectives, business models and scalability are the factors that investors are interested in when considering their investment. Therefore, start-ups need to be aware of these aspects, especially when community-oriented projects often have good social objectives, but need to enhance and pay more attention to the growth and governance model to be able to call and attract investment.”
Mr. Pham Hong Quat shared about policies and programs to promote innovation to solve national problems: ” In early 2021, we advised the Ministry of Science and Technology to submit to the Prime Minister and issued decision no 188 in order to upgrade and expand the 844 Program, which focuses on 2 objectives: (1) Building a network to connect and support innovative start-ups, that focuses on social responsibility; (2) Forming opened and connected innovation platforms to spread and attract innovative initiatives to address social problems.”
With many years of experience in working with young people in innovation, Mr. Tran Quang Hung said: “There have been many projects of young people recently that apply modern technology such as AI, Blockchain to solve social issues, especially medical problems arising during COVID-19 or traceability issues for some agricultural products.”
Concluding the discussion, Ms. Tran Van Anh emphasized: “Stakeholders (government, businesses, social organizations, institutes/schools, …) all play an important role in promoting innovation aiming at thoroughly and effectively addressing social challenges as well as bringing benefits and shared values to all actors of this ecosystem.”
The upcoming series of activities of the Festival include: Future Solution Contest – 2 categories: (1) Incubation for groups with innovative social startup ideas; (2) Acceleration: for businesses that offer products/services that create social impacts in the fields of Education, health, livelihood – employment, environment protection, etc. Deadline for application: October 12, 2021.
– Social innovative start-up training activities, Pitching round from October 16-22, 2021
– “Future Solution” Award Ceremony scheduled on November 10th 2021
- Workshop for start-ups supporting organizations “Supporting social innovative startups in the new context: challenges and solutions” in October 2021.
– Social Investment Forum – Creating trends, leading changes is scheduled on November 10, 2021 – an international event with the participation of social investors, experts, innovative start-ups, domestic and international supporting organizations
- Workshop on Improving policies to promote social innovative start-ups in Vietnam scheduled in November 2021
- Women’s social innovative start-ups and Youth Leaders – Solving social challenges Forums expected to be held in December 2021
In addition, there are exhibitions and other satellite seminars.
Further information about actitivities in Social Innovation Festival and Shinhan Square Bridge Model is updated at www.livinglabvietnam.org/ and https://techfest.vn/lang-khoi-nghiep/lang-thach-thuc-va-sang-tao-xa-hoi-1
(Ms) Chu Thu Ha – Communication Manager of MSD/UWW Vietnam, Head of Communication Department of Social Challenge and Innovation Village