A strategy meeting for the Lower Mekong Initiative's TIGERS@Mekong project was held in HCM City on August 29.

The project is a public-private alliance platform aimed at strengthening the start-up and innovation eco-systems in targeted Mekong economies by supporting young innovators and entrepreneurs in the technology sector.

The meeting, held by the US Department of State and the technology media, event and research company IDG ASEAN, brought together 50 key government and technology sector stakeholders.

The participants discussed for a strategy and planning on creating an effective enabling environment for technology entrepreneurs in the Lower Mekong sub-region.

The meeting allowed government officials from Cambodia , Laos , Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam to assess their nations' entrepreneurial eco-systems and the private sector to share insights into developing their components.

The participants considered the unique needs of specific groups like women and young entrepreneurs, and identified priorities for future TIGERS@Mekong activities.

TIGERS@Mekong will leverage US expertise in fostering entrepreneurship and deploy strategic partnerships between US and Mekong private sectors to strengthen the region's start-up and innovation ecosystems, promote and facilitate connectivity in the region, and foster innovative business models.

"In recognition of the Mekong region's potential as a source of innovation and in an effort to boost competitiveness and growth in the region, the US Department of State launched the Mekong Technology Innovation Generation and Entrepreneurship Resources (TIGERS@Mekong) as a signature project under the Connect Mekong framework at the East Asia Summit in 2012," the US Department of State Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Andrew O'Brien, told the meeting.

"TIGERS@Mekong is about many, many things, but at its core it is about connecting people and putting like-minded people on the same path to prosperity. The nature of diplomacy has changed very much in recent years - and the greatest thing we can do as allies today is to get on - and stay on - a path towards a shared economic future."

A senior official from Foreign Affairs Ministry Nguyen Van Thao said: "The robust globalisation and development of the knowledge-based economy are posing challenges to Mekong countries, and among these are, first and foremost, gaps in knowledge and technology."

Vietnam therefore supports the launch of TIGERS@Mekong and will closely coordinate with LMI member countries to implement TIGERS@Mekong and Connect Mekong to make best use of the US 's advantages for supporting Mekong countries in integration and bridging the development gap, he said.

The project should support the connectivity and development of technology businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, in knowledge intensive and high value-added industries through inspiring innovation and developing high-quality workforces in Mekong countries, he said.

"In an effort to mobilise resources from business sector, we do expect TIGERS@Mekong to serve as a platform for US and Mekong enterprises to involve in public-private partnership projects, particularly those in technology infrastructure connectivity and research- knowledge exchange."

With a population of around 90 million people, half of them under 30, Vietnam is endowed with not only a young and abundant workforce that is dynamic, diligent and capable of absorbing technology, but also a market of great potential, he said.

The accelerated industrialisation and modernisation process of the country are opening up new investment opportunities in areas where the US has an edge - like infrastructure, technology, renewable energy, and environment - he said.-VNA