Vietnam’s IC industry: the “lonely stars”

VietNamNet Bridge - Two years ago, news about the achievements in the IC (integrated circuit) industry often appeared in local newspapers. But since the beginning of 2017, there have been just sporadic pieces of news. 


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The 'Vietnam IC industry' is understood as the 'HCMC IC industry'



Ambitious plans

The ‘Vietnam IC industry’ is now understood as the ‘HCMC IC industry’. ICDREC (Integrated Circuit Design Research & Education Center) and SHTPLabs, the two IC R&D centers, are located in HCMC.

In 2013, HCMC became the first locality which launched an IC development program for the 2013-2020 period . 

The total investment capital of VND7.506 trillion will be spent on a chip production plant (VND6.6 trillion, or $330 million), a Design House, on the training of tens of thousands engineers to run the plant and on marketing and international cooperation programs.

In 2015, three component projects were added to the program, including one on MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems).

The IC development program compilers decided that by 2017, HCMC’s IC industry would have to obtain revenue of $100-150 million, invite at least five multinationals in electronic industry to invest in Vietnam, train 2,000 engineers and technicians, incubate over 30 domestic technology firms, and improve the value of domestically made electronics with expected profit of 20-30 percent.

The compilation committee said the HCMC IC program would play a very important role in the development of Vietnam IC industry.

Limited budget

After the program launch, a lot of international specialists, mostly from Japan, came to HCMC to discuss R&D projects and outsourcing projects to domestic units such as ICDREC and SHTP.

Some products developed by Vietnamese enterprises on the Vietnamese IC platform have been used, including ICDREC’s electronic meter and SHTPLabs’ pressure sensor.

However, analysts commented that ICDREC and SHTP are ‘lonely stars’. Many plans could not be implemented because of the lack of money. The investment capital of nearly VND8 trillion only existed on paper.

Some products developed by Vietnamese enterprises on the Vietnamese IC platform have been used, including ICDREC’s electronic meter and SHTPLabs’ pressure sensor.

ICDREC, which was called a bright star and launched one new product every month in 2013-2015, has been quiet recently. Prof Dang Luong Mo, senior advisor to ICDREC, said the center can no longer receive financial support from the central and local budgets and has to earn money from R&D projects, technology transfer and outsourcing.

Meanwhile, ICDREC’s Ngo Duc Hoang said the center now only has 30 official workers and 15 others in training. In 2013, when the center was in its golden days, it had 170 workers who had income equal to that of foreign firms. Many workers have left because of many reasons, including low pay.

However, ICDREC, SHTP and HCMC are still moving ahead to develop the IC industry for the sake of Vietnam’s science and technology development.


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Kim Chi

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