The University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City launched innovation hub in partnership with Singapore Management University to promote innovation and entrepreneurship

On April 17th 2019, the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH), in collaboration with Singapore Management University (SMU)’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) jointly launched the UEH Institute of Innovation (UII) which is located at 232/6 Vo Thi Street, Ward 7, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. The launch event aims to support entrepreneurial students and startups based on Singapore and Vietnam, as well as connect them to new networks, partners, and overseas markets.

The workshop proudly welcomed Mr. Le Quoc Phong - First Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union; Ms. Leow Siu Lin - Consul-General of Singapore in Ho Chi Minh City; Dr. Hoang Xuan Hoa - Assistant to Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam; Mr Philipp Röesler - Ex-Vice Chancellor of Germany, Chairman of the Advisory Board, Vina Capital Ventures; Prof. Lily Kong - SMU’s President; Prof. Nguyen Dong Phong - UEH’s President; and Mr. Don Lam -  CEO and Co-founder of Vina Capital. About 70 business, government and academic leaders from Vietnam, senior management of SMU, UEH and Vina Capital, SMU alumni and UEH students, as well as representatives from University of Leicester (UK), were present at the launch.

Speaking at the launch event, Prof. Nguyen Dong Phong, President of UEH emphasized: “Developing entrepreneurship ecosystems at universities and creating student innovation environments are two important resources for implementing business models that drive sustainable economic growth. Modelled after SMU’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with adjustment to suit the conditions in Vietnam, UEH Institute of Innovation is a practise-oriented institute which aims to offer strategies and instrument, fostering a culture of innovation and strengthening competitiveness of start-ups.”

Prof. Nguyen Dong Phong giving a speech

Prof. Lily Kong, President of SMU said: “The establishment of UII presents exciting opportunities for both SMU and UEH. I believe it will promote the cross fertilisation of ideas across Singapore and Vietnam, the sharing of networks between the two universities, and the enhancement of both countries’ innovation ecosystems. SMU is keen to engage with the innovation and entrepreneurship community in Vietnam, and look forward to building close ties and developing more collaborations with like-minded partner."

Prof. Lily Kong -  SMU 's President making an opening speech

Dr. Philipp Röesler - Ex-Vice Chancellor of Germany, Chairman of the Advisory Board, Vina Capital Ventures hoped:  The cooperation between UEH and SMU, the establishment of UII  will create opportunities to develop ideas of entrepreuners, accelerate Vietnam’s economy.

TS. Marta Gasparin - Lecturer in Design and Innovation Management from University of Leicester (UK) - Keynote speaker for the innovation hub ceremony: Innovation hubs in the innovation ecosystem


The launch of the innovation hub was held in conjunction with SMU’s second Industry Leaders Dialogue in Vietnam. This Industry Leaders Dialogue is an integral part of SMU’s overall efforts to deepen the university’s understanding and collaboration with Vietnam. The Dialogue serves as a platform for industry leaders, academia and other stakeholders to share, discuss and debate ideas and issues about Vietnam that are current and relevant.

Speaking on the topic "Market Validation Strategies for Start-ups", Associate Professor Reddi Kotha from SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business presented several examples of the market validation strategies used by start-ups that have scaled well in Singapore from the six teaching cases he had developed with the Centre of Management Practice at SMU, and pointed out some of the challenges start-ups are still facing post initial market validation.”

Associate Professor Reddi Kotha from SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business presenting topic: Market Validation Strategies for Startups

Associate Professor Kotha then moderated a panel discussion on ‘How Entrepreneurs Can Scale Up - Market Validation Strategies’. The panel members were Mr Don Lam, CEO and Co-founder of Vina Capital; Dr. Ngo Minh Hai, Head of Financial Market Department, School of Banking, UEH; Mr Adrian Lim, Co-Founder of Fetch Technology; and Dr Marta Gasparin, lecturer, University of Leicester (UK). Among the issues discussed by the panel were the start-up ecosystem in Vietnam, innovative market validation strategies adopted by start-ups, business models and/or design thinking as strategies for market validation strategies.

Panel discussion, topic “How Entrepreneurs Can Scale Up - Market Validation Strategies 


Delegates discussing about start-up ecosystem in Vietnam, innovative market validation strategies adopted by start-ups, business models and/or design thinking as strategies for market validation strategies.

Delegates exchanging souvenir gifts

All of honourable guests having a short-visiting around UII

UEH Institute of Innovation was established on 20 April, 2018 to build innovative incubators, encourage entrepreunsership at UEH in particular and HCMC in general. promote innovative activities and the start-up ecosystem. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, the 1,300 square-metre UII offers early-stage companies various amenities, including co-working space, cafeteria, conference rooms and interaction rooms. 

In March 2019, UII has accepted 14 start-ups as the first cohort of their 12-month incubation programme, in which they will be guided through the process of taking their idea to market.  Most of these start-ups are tech-based companies addressing challenges in diverse sectors from e-commerce to real estate. Among these start-ups are two from Singapore which were incubated by IIE: SweeGo (a lifestyle membership app that provides Vietnamese with perks at over 100 F&B, entertainment, beauty & wellness brands) and Bamboo Builders (provides customised growth programmes, empowering young adults to lead sustainable change better). UII will provide them with mentorship and networks so that they can successfully penetrate the Vietnam market.

Going forward, UII intends to take in 30 start-ups founded by UEH students and alumni, or from UEH’s partners. 

UII is planning a wide range of events and activities that will support entrepreneurial students and start-ups from Singapore and Vietnam.

(i) UII will welcome Singaporean start-ups expanding to Vietnam, while IIE will host Vietnamese start-ups expanding to Singapore.

(ii) UEH and SMU will jointly facilitate internship placements for entrepreneurial students from both Singapore and Vietnam to Vietnamese start-ups.

(iii) UEH and SMU will collaborate on research projects focusing on start-up behaviour and innovation ecosystems.

Some photos of  UEH Institute of Innovation

Source: Department of Communications and Public Relations.