The Government is committed to supporting people with creative ideas, Nguyen Quan, Minister of Science and Technology, told Ha Noi Moi (New Hanoi) newspaper.

Q: How is Vietnam situated in terms of technical innovation, in particular the contribution of Vietnamese amateurs (those who are not scientists, engineers, etc.)?

A: Vietnam is very proud to have a good contingent of well educated scientists working at research institutes and universities. They are leading science and technology development in our country. However, in general, I would say that the demand is bigger than supply. So it is a good idea to call for the participation of amateur innovators from enterprises, organisations and individuals from all walks of life. There are many people who do not have academic qualifications but are passionate about innovating and further developing science and technology in the country.

We should give them opportunities and support to conduct research and apply their work in their own families and communities.

Q: What is the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) doing to support amateur innovators?

A: For many years now, we have supported individuals trying new ways to boost yield and product quality. We have invited amateur innovators to attend National Techmart fairs and even international technology fairs that showcase advanced technology and technological innovations. Through such fairs, some people with ideas have become successful entrepreneurs.

The 2013 Law on Science and Technology contains several clauses on amateur innovators. MoST plans to launch a campaign to mobilise and encourage more people to engage in research in their own fields. So farmers can conduct field trials on their own rice fields or the workers to apply their own innovations in their daily work.

In 2012, the Government issued Decree 13, which emphasises that the Government, ministries, sectors, local governments and others have the duty to assist and support citizens' innovations. However, I have to admit that the Government's Decree 13 has not been properly implemented. There is a plan for the National Office of Intellectual Property under the MoST to work with Finance Ministry to formulate a Circular on Financial Mechanisms to Support Citizen's Innovations.

So far, the Government has not given any financial support to amateur innovators. We have encouraged them and offered technical advice. So I hope that when the Circular is adopted, it will become an effective tool, encouraging more people to get involved in research and come up with good, effective innovations.

Of course, as far as the MoST is concerned, we plan to set up intellectual property offices in all 63 cities and provinces that will support residents with innovative ideas in their respective localities. If proposed innovations have potential, the provincial offices will facilitate follow-up by asking scientists from various national institutes and universities to get involved.

In addition, we should encourage enterprises to co-finance the practical application of innovations.

Q: How can the media help?

A: While the MoST will be the focal point in mass communication campaigns to highlight good innovations, the media can disseminate ideas as well as important information on what is happening in the field, not only to the public, but also to existing and potential innovators. The media can channel expert advice to budding innovators nationwide.-VNA