On the 22nd of June, Indochina Energy Partner participated the USAID hosted ‘Open Innovation in Clean Energy’ event at the appropriately named Saigon Innovation Hub (SiHUB). Indochina Energy Partners works with several of the participants to provide innovative renewable energy solutions for Vietnam.

In recent years, the term “Open Innovation” has been a popular subject of discussion. With the aim to improve energy management and speed up product commercialization, businesses and organizations in the clean energy sector have been urged to implement new ideas.

During the meet, Huynh Kim Tuoc, Managing Director at Sihub, gave his opinion on the opportunities for innovation in the renewable energy market. According to Mr. Tuoc, Vietnam has seen the rapid development of solar energy in the past years, but it all came to a halt due to grid limitation, this is where innovation comes in. There are industry sectors where 30% – 40% of the energy consumed are wasted, some even reach 70%. Improving energy efficiency in these sectors through innovative administrative & technology solutions is very viable business model for startups.

Within the framework of the event, experts in two fields of energy and innovation discussed the clean energy startup ecosystem. Ms. Vo Phuong Quynh – Director of Zone Startup Vietnam Program thinks that open innovation in the field of clean energy has been taken interest by many incubators and accelerator programs as Vietnam is undergoing the green transformation. As an investor, Ms. Quynh is also looking for companies, but encounters difficulties finding clean energy startups in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, from the perspective of the innovation ecosystem, Pham Duc Nam Trung – CFO at Dat Bike shared, startups in the energy ecosystem can be divided in to two main groups, software (which is more familiar to the Vietnamese market)and hardware solutions. Software startups that are more focused on services, products are being prioritized. They are receiving more capital and manpower aid. it is more difficult to find investment and support for the hardware side because it requires larger capital and longer wait time. Recently, there has been a shift in attention to the hardware side, there are new programs emerging that is designed specifically for hardware startups, mostly to solve environmental problems

The Exchange program was established to aid the development of hardware startups. This is an activity within the framework of the Vietnam Urban Energy Security Project funded by USAID to promote innovation. The program supports connecting businesses, corporations, and innovative energy startups in Vietnam through piloting and commercializing products.

The open innovation meeting event in the clean energy industry also kicks off The Exchange 2 program, with the aim to connect 15 companies with 18 startups and 15 solutions pilot in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. This is an opportunity for startups to implement innovative solutions to help solve the urban environmental and energy problem in Ho Chi Minh City and in Vietnam.