Investors pledge US$800m for Vietnam startups

VIETNAM'S startup ecosystem got a boost on Thursday, with about US$800 million pledged by an alliance of venture capital firms over the next three to five years.

The commitment was made at the Vietnam Venture Summit 2020, as part of The Vietnam Tech and Startup Week, by 33 venture capital firms from South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Despite this being a pandemic year, this figure is comparable with 2019, with US$861 million invested in Vietnamese tech startups in 123 venture deals, according to an industry report by Do Ventures.

Investment proceeds in the first half of 2020 decreased by 22 per cent to US$222 million, from US$284 million in the same period last year, largely due to the pandemic.

However, "taking into account the projected amount of investment in 2020, the addition of this over US$800 million pledge should match up with heyday levels of  investment in 2019 and before," a statement from the summit said.

Ed Grefenstette, CIO at Dietrich Foundation, said this is "a perfect time" to lean into Vietnam.

“We’ve been invested in venture capital in Vietnam since 2011 but now, more than ever before, we’re really excited about the opportunities we’re seeing here. We look towards past experiences in China to draw parallels and access opportunities in Southeast Asia. While talent used to be a bottleneck in Vietnam, we are seeing extraordinary best practices being adopted from around the world here," said Mr Grefenstette.

The summit comes on the heels of trade tensions between the US and China, with Vietnam widely considered to benefit from a shift of manufacturing and foreign direct investment into the country.