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Next new unicorn startups in Asia Pacific could be in Vietnam

The next unicorn technology startups in Asia Pacific may come from Vietnam, as the foundation for a solid ecosystem to support these businesses is underway, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In its report about Vietnam’s technology startup ecosystem and the development of startups in Southeast Asia, ADB believes that Vietnam is laying a foundation to build the next unicorn startups in Asia.

Under the National Program 844 on supporting the national innovation initiative (Program 844), Vietnam aims to develop 600 businesses by 2025, including 100 businesses to call for investment capital with total value of at least VND2 trillion ($85.44 million).

Aimee Hampel-Milagrosa from ADB said the government of Vietnam has realized that tech startups are the new driving force for the country. To facilitate the process, the government has begun offering financial incentives to create the next-generation unicorns of Vietnam.

The five startup fields that attracted the most capital in 2021 included fintech (26.6 percent), e-commerce (20.3 percent), edtech (17.2 percent), healthtech (7.8 percent) and service software (6.3 percent).

While limited financial capability is the common problem of startups, angel investors and venture capitalists are still eager to invest.

Another obstacle is the lack of qualified workers. However,  universities and research institutes in Vietnam are joining forces with local authorities, ministries and agencies to establish startup support units. They are organizing startup events for students in order to promote the entrepreneurial culture among youth.

A Forbes’ report released recently showed that Vietnam has a number of businesses which can satisfy nearly all requirements to become unicorns, and some startups have original business models and a competitive edge.

The report noted well-known names, including VNG (previously VinaGame), VNPay, MoMo and Sky Mavis.

VNG was one of the first startups in Vietnam, starting with the distribution of online games. It has developed into an internet-based tech startup and become the first unicorn startup of Vietnam. 

VNPay is the second unicorn with investment capital of $300 million from GIC Singapore and Softbank from Japan.

Meanwhile, MoMo has become a unicorn following the series-E fundraising in late 2021. Mizuho Bank and international investors have invested $200 million in the startup. This is a super-app that provides digital transformation solutions to SMEs and MSMEs.

Sky Mavis is a new business well known for its blockchain-based game Axie Infinity with 2.6 million players.

Vietnam has a high number of startups which are near unicorn status, such as Tiki, Giao Hang Tiet Kiem, Giao Hang Nhanh and Trust Social. 

Duy Anh

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