July 8, 2019

Fulbright’s Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hosted AngelHack’s Hackathon

July 8, 2019

The newly launched Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) of Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) recently hosted the AngelHack’s Hackathon from 22 to 23 June 2019.

The event attracted some 120 participants to collaborate and create solutions to potential real world challenges through technology.

The participants, including innovation enthusiasts from high school, universities and young graduates, were required to work in teams and present a concept to a panel of business and technology experts. The top five teams received cash rewards up to VND30,000,000 and opportunities to further develop their ideas with the sponsors.

The hackathon witnessed the attendance of senior executives from AngelHack, AWS, IBM, Vietnam Post, FE Credit, and Fulbright University Vietnam.

“We are very pleased to be a part of this project to encourage young people to be innovative in solving real world problems. It provides a learning experience for ideation, customer needs analysis, feature specification, and prototyping with a hard deadline.

It also fits well into the CEI’s vision to help cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators who will build Vietnam’s future and to contribute to the flourishing of Vietnam’s innovation ecosystem,” shared Ken Watari, who is leading the establishment of the CEI, during his welcome address.

Ken Watari (left), leader of CEI’s establishment.

Hackathons are not just simply a playground for developers and/or business-minded individuals to compete. Hackathons are also proving to be powerful opportunities to generate new ideas, both for corporate and social innovation.

Fulbright’s incoming student, Tran Nhut An, understood this opportunity. His group, Buslivery, successfully convinced Vietnam Post, the biggest postal service provider in Vietnam, to further explore their idea of utilizing excess capacity on public buses for postal service. If this idea could come to life, Vietnam Post would be able to minimize a significant part of their operational costs.

Tran Nhut An (the first on the left side) and his Buslivery team.

“We are proud that Nhut An participated and won of the challenges in the Hackathon. Every of our students is full of ideas and passion and events like these allow our students to take more interest in real world problems and emerging technologies and innovations,” said Watari.

Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

In May 2019, Fulbright University Vietnam officially launched the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will play a key role in the students’ journey at Fulbright. The CEI will not only equip students with the skills and experiences to become entrepreneurs and innovators, but also help foster a thriving innovation ecosystem in Vietnam.

Unlike other universities, Fulbright established its CEI at a very early stage of the University’s development, when its students only prepare to enter their Freshman year in the Fall 2019.

“It was a challenging decision for us at Fulbright to establish the CEI at this stage, when our resources are stretched. However, it is a critical for us to embed the DNA of entrepreneurship and continuous innovation into the university and have it play an important role in students’ experiences and development,” shared Tran Le Nam, Chief of Staff of Fulbright University Vietnam.

Accelerating entrepreneurship and innovation is mission-critical for Vietnam to escape the “middle-income trap.” Yet, the innovation ecosystem in Vietnam is still relatively nascent with enormous opportunity to grow and to build greater linkages not only with the existing ecosystem in Vietnam but also with regional and global hubs such as Korea, Singapore and Silicon Valley.

CEI seeks to bridge this gap; and this interdisciplinary hub for projects at the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology looks to position Fulbright as a leader in entrepreneurship-related higher education, and to increase the University’s visibility first in Ho Chi Minh City’s, then region’s, and the global startup scene.

“Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology are driving growth in Vietnam, and Fulbright can benefit from and contribute to that momentum through our CEI. Our mission is to support group of founders, startups, and companies to create innovation and businesses that truly matter to the broader development of Vietnam.” said Nam.

“The CEI will serve as a hub for transforming ideas into projects, products and businesses — as well as a headquarters for experiential learning focused on entrepreneurial work.

We welcome faculty, staff and students from all disciplines who want to transform their ideas into projects, products and businesses, and we will seek to connect Fulbright with industry of all sizes across the city, country, and region from startups looking for advice and direction to established businesses looking to take advantage of the resources and intellectual leadership available at Fulbright.”

What’s next?

After the hackathon, Fulbright’s CEI will continue organizing more events and learning opportunities for our students and the broader innovation community.

“We expect to make opportunities such as hackathons and workshops a regular part of our activities on campus,” said Ken Watari. “These activities allow us to invite the broader community to our campus to co-create with us, as well as offer our students opportunities to work on real world problems.”

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