Interview Vietnam Investment Review

December 11, 2017

Early December, Joost Helms, director of EIPO, was interviewed on the Binh Duong Smart City project by ms. Thanh Van for the ‘Building Smart Cities’ special in the weekly magazine of Vietnam’s Investment Review.

Binh Duong learns from smartest city

Eindhoven in the Netherlands is a technological hub of Europe and one of the smartest cities in the region. The southern province of Binh Duong aims to apply the best practices from Eindhoven to make itself ‘smart’. Joost Helms, director of the Eindhoven International Project Office, talks with VIR’s Thanh Van about his insights into smart city technology and explained how Eindhoven can help Binh Duong to realise its dream.

How has Eindhoven been transformed into a smart city?
Eindhoven, the Netherlands’ fifth-biggest city, is home to huge companies like Philips and DAF Trucks. Philips used to be a giant tradi- tional manufacturer, specialising in a wide range of fields such as medical equipment, lighting, and consumer prod- ucts. The group has always been very active in research and development (R&D) and in the past, they did more or less everything in-house, including their own cardboard, paper, and glass factories. However, Philips has undergone a major restructuring due to globalisation and the re- location of production to other parts of the world. DAF Trucks even went bankrupt in 1993 due to chal- lenges posed by these develop- ments. At that time, the government of Eindhoven in- vited leaders of universities and private businesses to come to- gether and develop a joint strat- egy. We aimed to strengthen our economy to make it less reluctant to the changes in the global economy.

This was the beginning of Eindhoven’s smart city development, and laid the foundation for the ‘Triple Helix’, the co-operation of government, private businesses, and univer- sities. These parties have come together to work out ideas which benefit everybody and put these ideas into a joint strategy. Ever since, Eindhoven has developed a very strong high-tech and R&D-based economy. Philips is known all over the world for its high-tech products such as specialised medical equipment, MRI scanners, and smart lighting. Eindhoven-based ASML is a global leader in the production of machines made to manufacture chips used by tech giants like Intel, Samsung, and Sony. All of these high-tech products are made in Eindhoven. Eindhoven now has the highest number of patents per capita in the world, at about 22.6 patents per 10,000 inhabitants. The city was even named the ‘most intelligent community in the world’ by Intelligent Community Forum in 2011.

How can Eindhoven help Binh Duong to become a smart city?
Binh Duong has the ambition to develop its traditional manufacturing and transform it into a higher value-added economy based on knowledge and high techology. The province wants to learn how to undergo a transformation on the scale of Eindhoven’s. As experts from Eindhoven, we have developed a plan called ‘Binh Duong Navigator 2021’, which comprises 46 actions divided into four main areas.

The first area focuses on people, because human talent is the most important thing in society and in the economy. Companies always look for the availability of people with the right skillset and relevant knowledge when they choose an investment destination. Secondly, technology is crucial for Binh Duong to grow into a knowledge-based economy. The province needs to develop its own knowledge base, apply new technologies, stimulate innovation, boost technology transfers, and facilitate growth for new businesses. Thirdly, the navigator aims to make it easier to do business in the province. The local government is good at supporting businesses with one-stop policies, but there is room for im- provement. In particular, the province needs to develop a value chain to attract similar businesses in order to form strong clusters and attract new investment. Last but not least, basic in- frastructure is important to the development of a smart city. This includes digital infrastructure. If you want to develop a knowledge-based economy, you need to have good broad-band internet access for all people and businesses.

Which companies from Eindhoven aim to invest in Binh Duong?
We see our role as a connector, to get everybody involved in new ideas and jointly develop a smart city. Philips Lighting from Eindhoven will not only install street lighting in Binh Duong New City, but also developed a laboratory at Eastern International University in Binh Duong. This means they will sell their products, but also bring knowledge and expertise. Thus, students can get better training when it comes to lighting, with more advanced equipment. We also collaborate with Philips to install said smart lighting, connected with Wifi and sensors. Philips will have a nice showcase for its products, while Binh Duong New City can explore good and sustainable lighting plans for the further development of the city. It is also a perfect project to teach students how to develop smart lighting applications.

Another example is a joint project we are working on with two Dutch companies, namely FabMax, a semiconductor advisor, and NXP, a semiconductor producer. They have a long-term plan to develop a front-end chip manufacturing site in Ho Chi Minh City with a substantial investment. Currently, we are conducting a feasibility study to build a back-end chip manufacturing site in Binh Duong. This will bring new and higher skilled jobs and can be the start of a type of high tech industry for Binh Duong.


(c) EIPO / VIR December 11-17 2017