Aus-Vietnam innovation ties deepen with $250m RMIT investment

Brandon How

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has helped launch a new innovation hub in Vietnam that forms part of a $250 million strategic investment by RMIT University.

Mr Albanese announced the $250 million investment alongside several other government and tertiary sector commitments during his visit over the weekend.

These commitments included $105 million Commonwealth commitment to support Vietnam’s uptake of clean energy, clean energy infrastructure, and to attract investment in its critical minerals.

A $2 million Western Sydney University scholarship program for the study of business, communications, and data science that will run for two years was also announced.

Mr Albanese also said that CSIRO’s Aus4Innovation program will be expanded, having confirmed a five-year extension of the program at the end of last year. The program supports the ongoing development of Vietnam’s science, innovation, and policy agenda.

He described Vietnam and Australia as “top-tier partners and enduring friends”.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Min Chinh. Image: Vietnam Government Press

Speaking on Sunday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Min Chinh also said a cooperation agreement on digital technologies with be signed shortly, as existing cooperation in “climate action, digital transformation, green transition, and the development of the circular economy” is expanded.

He added that “Vietnam requested Australia to create favourable conditions for the local Vietnamese community to settle down”. The inaugural Australia-Vietnam Trade Ministers’ Dialogue was also launched.

RMIT’s $250 million strategic investment fund includes support for its Industry and Innovation Hub in Hanoi, which launched over the weekend. The fund includes support for the expansion of its Ho Chi-Minh City campus.

Western Sydney University and the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) jointly launched the Whitlam Scholarship program to support 60 Vietnamese and other South-East Asian students.

The first 50 scholarships will be for undergraduate or postgraduate studies undertaken in Vietnam with the remaining 10 supporting postgraduate and PhD programs undertaken at Western Sydney University.

Australian Technology Network of Universities executive director Luke Sheehy welcomed the strategic investment, highlighting the Prime Minister’s attendance at the launch as being indicative of its importance.

“I can only echo the words of the PM, that RMIT is indeed delivering the best of Australian education to the Vietnam campus. The Federal Government is well aware of the value of extending this partnership with an enduring friend in the region,” Mr Sheehy said.

“Congratulations to RMIT Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alec Cameron, and his team on the work to create the innovation hub, which will be an important gateway between the two countries.”

The two countries are currently pursuing the Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy 2021-2025. Mr Pham said the countries are “striving to reach a trade turnover of $30 billion USD in the time to come and double two-way investment”.

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