VietNamNet Bridge – There are numerous research & development (R&D) units in Vietnam, but Vietnamese have few patent cooperation treaties (PCT) registered at WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization). Who is to blame?


A report of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) showed that about 2,000 organizations in Vietnam have R&D activities.

By the end of 2011, Vietnam had 134,780 R&D workers, accounting for 0.15 percent of the total population of 87.84 million.

Of these, 105,230 do scientific research, while the others are technicians and support staff. Over 50 percent of the scientific researchers, or 52,997 people, now work for universities.

Under the current regulations, university lecturers have to spend 400-600 hours out of the total 1,760 working hours a year on scientific research. This means that lecturers spend 22-34 percent of their time only on scientific research.

As such, Vietnam only has 15,000 people as FTE (full time equivalent) scientific researchers at universities.

Meanwhile, the real figure is below 15,000, because university lecturers, instead of spending the required time on doing scientific research, tend to spend time on giving private tutoring lessons, which can bring them extra money.

Vietnam has 67,223 real full-time scientific researchers (15,000 at universities and about 53,000 at enterprises, administration units and other organizations).

It appears that 67,223 Vietnamese researchers is not a small number. However, the ratio of researchers per one million people in Vietnam is small  – 0.0007 – if noting that the ratio is 4,650 in the US (in 2007), 936 in China (2011), 5,451 in South Korea (2010), Singapore 6,307 (2010) and Malaysia 1,643 (2011).

This means that the US had 1.4 million researchers by 2007, China 1.25 million by 2011, and South Korea 265,809 by 2010, four times higher than Vietnam.

As for technicians, according to MST, Vietnam had 9,781 technique workers by 2011, which means that there are 0.0001 technicians for every one million people. The figure is dramatically low if compared with South Korea (981 technicians per 1 million people in 2010), and Malaysia (158/1 million).

The statistics showed that the number of researchers and technicians in Vietnam is too low

According to MST, Vietnam spends much lower on R&D than other countries.

A report of the ministry showed that in 2011, Vietnam’s GERD (Gross domestic expenditure on research and development) was VND5.293 trillion, or $0.25 billion. This meant that the ratio of the expenditure on GDP was 0.21 percent.

Meanwhile, the GERD index of the US was 2.77 percent in 2011, or 13 times higher than Vietnam’s. The total sum of money the US spent on R&D activities was $450 billion, or 1,785 times higher than Vietnam.

China also spends much more money than Vietnam on R&D activities.  Chinese GERD was 1.84 percent in 2011, or 8.7 times higher than Vietnam’s. The country spent $250 billion on R&D, or 992 times higher than Vietnam.

Le Van