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Australia assists Vietnam with AI in post-COVID-19 economic recovery

Image credit: Nhan Dan

The Australian government has announced its support for a new initiative that enables the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to assist economic recovery in Vietnam after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is providing AU$ 650,000 (about US$ 467,216) to the initiative, which is within the framework of Australia’s Aus4Innovation program in collaboration with the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

It will offer short-term funding for innovative AI solutions to deal with the consequences of the virus, and support long-term demands, including technical support for the implementation of Vietnam’s AI strategy and training courses for stakeholders in the AI ecosystem.

According to a news report, the announcement was made at the second Innovation Partnership Meeting between the Australian Embassy in Vietnam and MOST in Hanoi on 4 August.

At the event, the two sides reviewed the outstanding achievements from the first 18 months of implementing the Aus4Innovation program.

Accordingly, Aus4Innovation has provided AU$ 4 million (around US$ 2.8 million) in funding for:

  • Innovative partnerships between Vietnamese and Australian institutions.
  • Capacity-building activities in science commercialisation for individual researchers and institutions across Vietnam.
  • Technical assistance to MOST in important science, technology, and innovation policy research.

As a continuation of the Aus4Innovation initiatives to support the building of Vietnam’s future digital economy in the strong correlation between digitisation and economic growth, the funding of the AI initiative is a natural extension of program activities to help Vietnam cope with COVID-19.

Addressing the meeting, Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie hailed innovation as one of the three key pillars in the Vietnam-Australia partnership, stating that in the face of the global pandemic, it has become more important than ever.

The new AI initiative is a great example of how modern technology can be adapted quickly to respond to Vietnam’s emerging needs, she said.

It is also a strong demonstration of Australia’s commitment to working with partners in Vietnam and the Indo-Pacific region to address the impacts of COVID-19 and support long-term recovery, Mudie added.

MOST Minister Chu Ngoc Anh welcomed Australia’s support to Vietnam in AI application as well as the continued support from the Aus4Innovation program in enhancing connections between the Australian and Vietnamese innovation ecosystems.

Over the past 18 months, the sides have created a sound basis for a further mutual innovation partnership. They are confident this partnership will continue to bring positive results and impacts to Vietnam’s sustainable socio-economic development, he stated.

The new AI initiative will be implemented from August 2020 to June 2021, including support for the 2020 Vietnam AI Day (AI4VN 2020) under the theme “AI in pandemic: Adapting to the new normal”.

Other funded events include workshops, a technology showcase conference, training courses, and a hackathon. The highlight is the AI Hackathon, a 48-hour contest that brings experts and top programmers together to find new ways to utilise AI as Vietnam recovers from COVID-19. The winning ideas will receive funding for implementation.

Aus4Innovation is an AU$ 11 million (around US$ 7.9 million) development assistance program that aims to strengthen Vietnam’s innovation system, to prepare for and embrace opportunities associated with Industry 4.0, and to help shape Vietnam’s innovation agenda in science and technology.

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