As Israel and Vietnam negotiate a free trade agreement, the Israeli Embassy in Vietnam is seeking local talent to participate in Start Jerusalem, a global competition for startups that will bring winners to Israel for “an immersive experience of inspiring talks, hands-on workshops and high-level networking with the country’s leading entrepreneurs and investors,” according to the Foreign Ministry, sponsors of the event.
It’s the next stage in a relationship between the two countries that has been growing steadily in recent years. Notably, Israeli-developed agricultural technology is being increasingly used by Vietnamese farmers. According to Nguyen Van Han- Deputy Director of Chau Thanh District’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, “Israeli technology helps grow organic produce with higher quality and better safety for consumers. This model is a new way for farmers to increase their income on cultivated land, opening up opportunities for farmers not only in the district but also in the whole province.”
Israeli greenhouses are also a hit in Thanh Tri district, where farmers are growing lettuce, cabbage, and other vegetables using aquatic growing methods for pest-free produce, technology developed in Israel.
The Israel-Vietnam relationship is blooming in other areas as well. In March, President Reuven Rivlin traveled to the Southeast Asian nation where he signed a number of cooperation agreements in the fields of education and medicine with his Vietnamese counterparts. In July, Vietnamese Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh attended a conference in Israel on economic, scientific and technological cooperation with the Jewish state.
According to the Vietnamese official, trade between Israel and Vietnam has grown more than five times between 2010 to 2016, and talks have started on a free trade agreement.
“The leaders of both countries have set a target $3 billion turnover,” said the minister. “I think this is a goal that can be achieved. Second, the prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the fields are enormous and there are many measures to promote. Third, 2018 is the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, and we will certainly continue to develop bilateral cooperation for the benefit of the two countries.”
The Start Jerusalem competition aims to boost the two countries’ relationship in technology as well. Applicants come from 35 countries, mostly in Europe and North America – with Vietnam one of the more far-flung. After being screened and selected, finalists will be invited to the pitching round in Hanoi with judges from Israel’s embassy and the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology. The embassy is encouraging seed-stage startups that have developed tech in areas like Internet of Things, web apps, and mobile tech to apply.
This is not the first time that Vietnamese startups have had an opportunity to learn from Israelis. Last September, the People’s Committee of Hanoi, in cooperation with the Israeli Embassy in Vietnam and FPT Corporation, held an international conference on the “Vietnam Startup Ecosystem – Lessons learned from Israel,” Participating in the conference was Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, who stressed that with a growing economy, Vietnam needed to learn from other countries including Israel.
Start Jerusalem is a natural extension of that effort, according to the Israeli embassy in Hanoi. The contest “is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect and benefit from interaction with prominent local tech leaders and participate in interactive fireside chats and panels, specially designed how-to workshops, site visits at leading companies and exclusive networking meet-ups with Jerusalem’s startup community,” according to the embassy.