VietNamNet Bridge –  Vietnamese scientists, in reply to the criticism that they are parasites on society because they produce few inventions, say they do not receive enough money to conduct scientific research.


Associate Professor Dr Pham Bich San, Secretary General of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association VUSTA, repeatedly said in local newspapers that while Vietnam has an excessive number of scientists, it seriously lacks patent co-operation treaties (PCT) or valuable inventions.

Scientists say they have to conduct scientific research in poor conditions and with limited financial capability.

An official of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) noted that the science development of a country heavily depends on research and development (R&D) expenditures and works.

The GERD index (Gross domestic expenditure on research and development) of Vietnam not only is far below that of big economies like the US and China, but also that of smaller countries.

South Korea, for example, spent $33.7 billion on R&D activities in 2010, and has a  GERD rate of 3.74 percent, or 133 times higher than Vietnam’s. For Malaysia, the figures were $2.65 billion, 1.07 percent and 10 times, respectively, in 2011.

The official noted that in Vietnam, 64 percent of the expenditures on R&D activities in Vietnam is from the state budget, while only 28 percent is from businesses. The situation in Vietnam is quite different from that in other countries, where businesses are the main sponsors for R&D projects.

A document showed that 77.3 percent of the R&D activities in China in 2011 were funded by businesses, while the government disbursed 24.26 percent. As for South Korea, 71.8 percent of the funding was sourced from businesses, while 26.75 percent from the government.

Analysts commented that once businesses do not think they need to spend money to fund R&D projects and the state only reserves a small part of the budget for the projects, R&D activities surely will not be able to develop.

The official, though admitting that Vietnam has few PCTs registered with WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization), said this should not be blamed on the weak knowledge of Vietnamese scientists.

According to MST, Vietnam’s GERD per capita index in 2011 was $7 ppp (purchasing power parity), which was nearly equal to half of Thailand’s ($16.53). The figure was just equal to 1/10 of Malaysia in 2006 ($78.63) and 1/20 of Singapore in 2009 ($1,324).

The GERD per researcher index is also very low, about VND50 million, or $2,358, per annum. Meanwhile, every Malaysian researcher receives $57,600 a year, or 24 times higher than Vietnamese researcher.

The gap would be even wider comparing Vietnam and Singapore’s GERD per research indexes. In 2010, every Singaporean researcher received $126, or 53 times higher than the Vietnamese.

The WIPO official notice says that in order to register international PCT, the owners of patents must pay $2,000 in fees, which is nearly equal to the total amount that each Vietnamese researcher can receive for one year.

Le Van