The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meets in Vietnam, with APEC Vietnam as the 2017 yearlong host. This year marks the second time Vietnam is playing host to the APEC, having hosted the event previously in 2006. As part of APEC Vietnam 2017, the Startups Forum, hosted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in collaboration with GEN Vietnam was held this September in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Forum included plenary sessions and concurrent thematic discussion sessions where APEC member economies shared experiences, ideas and tools to support startups in the APEC region and globally, and welcomed 300 delegates from 21 APEC's member economies.

Buke Cuhadar, vice president of global operations for Global Entrepreneurship Network, attended the forum as a panel speaker at the plenary session on “APEC's startup ecosystem.” The session focused on the role of countries in developing a connected, dynamic and innovative startup ecosystem in the region.

The session was moderated by Dr. Pham Thi Thu Hang, VCCI secretary general and the founder of GEN Vietnam. Other panel speakers included Mr. Tran Van Tung, Vice Minister of Science and Technology in Vietnam, Mr. Dave Miller, commercial software engineering lead for Microsoft Asia Pacific, and Mr. Stewart Beck, president and CEO of Asia Pacific Foundation in Canada.  

The event played an important role for the major stakeholders in Vietnam’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, as well as attending this event as part of GEN Vietnam to showcase the Vietnam example to the region. Hang gave a detailed overview of the findings of the GEM Vietnam Report, published in collaboration with VCCI. According to the report, the awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities has increased a great amount in the past few years, increasing from 36.8 percent in 2013 to 56.8 percent in 2015-2016. The perception of entrepreneurial capabilities and the fear of failure have yet to catch up, but the Vietnamese ecosystem is thriving with major stakeholders working toward a better coordinated ecosystem.

Tran Huu Duc, head of FPT Ventures, in his Vietnam Startup Overview, pointed out the explosion in the number of accelerators, pre-seed/seed, Series A and B funds, co-working spaces, corporate investors, startup related communities and events in Vietnam. The existence of nonprofit organizations such as Startup Vietnam Foundation that focuses on agribusinesses and the government’s efforts to promote entrepreneurship with various programs, funds and policies, are also noticeable in bringing Vietnam’s startups to the next level.

Buke Cuhadar serves as Vice President of Global Operations for the Global Entrepreneurship Network, a year-round platform of programs and… About the author