Earlier this year, the Government established the National Technology Innovation Foundation (NATIF) with a registered capital of 1 trillion VND (47 million USD).

The fund aims to foster innovation among Vietnamese businesses and promote the commercialisation of innovative ideas that can create new products and services. Viet Nam News spoke about this initiative to Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan, among others.

Q: What are the long-term goals of the foundation?

The foundation aims at supporting Vietnamese businesses renovate their technologies so that they can compete with foreign businesses. We're deepening our international integration by lifting tariff and commercial barriers, and if our businesses do not come up with technological innovations, we will lose right in our own backyard.

I believe that if we support our small and medium-sized enterprises with some capital for technological innovation, they can innovate and create new products.

Half the foundation's capital will be used to fund scientific and technological research and applications carried out by enterprises. The fund will also be used to import technologies and hire foreign experts to serve technological innovation. The other half will be used to guarantee loans or lent in the form of soft loans. In 2015, the foundation will primarily finance research projects and support businesses to apply research done by domestic and foreign institutes and universities. It will not be used to guarantee commercial loans or provide preferential loans as initially planned.

The priority areas for providing funding are the hi-tech sector, information technology, new material technology, biotechnology and automation technology.

Q: Many enterprises have said that it was not easy for them to access foundation previously established by the Government for promoting technological innovation, that the procedures are usually complicated. Will the NATIF be different?

The foundation will operate transparently. Businesses can find more information on the NATIF's website on how to apply for funding. I must note that Vietnam has some 500,000 businesses, and the 47 million USD will certainly not meet everyone's demand. Not every business will win funding.

That said, it will be really competitive.

We will try our best to operate the foundation in the most transparent way. And I'm sure we can do it. When enterprises want to have funding in a certain area, they have to come up with project proposals, and these projects will have to be approved by a management body specialising in that area.

Funding, once approved, will be supervised by the ministry and the NATIF. The use of funds will be evaluated and surprise checks carried out to make sure that the initiative is effective.

Q: What if the result of the investment does not meet expectations?

We will have certain regulations for this. If, at the end of the contract's term, the funded enterprises are unable to create a product as expected, the fund's management board will have to re-evaluate and find out why. If there are objective reasons for the failure, the enterprise would still have to refund a part of the investment. If there is subjective cause for the failure, the enterprise may have to refund the whole amount. Legal action will be taken in case corruption is involved.-VNA