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[HANOI] Vietnam's science and technology ministry will urge the government to set up a multi-million dollar fund to stimulate research and development in the high-tech sector.

Doan Nang, head of the ministry's legislation department, told SciDev.Net yesterday (24 July) that the proposal would be submitted to the government by the end of the month.

The 450 billion dong (US$28 million) venture capital fund would be the first of its kind funded by the Vietnamese government. It is intended to support high-tech companies whose projects are risky but could make large profits if successful.

It normally takes 7-10 years to recover investment capital and interest on high-tech projects. In recognition of this, the new fund would operate for 15 years to give it financial security and allow it to learn from experience.

Chu Tuan Nha, chair of the National Council for Science and Technology Policy says the fund could boost efforts to develop effective and feasible high-tech products and encourage foreign investment in science and technology in Vietnam.

But Han Manh Tien, director of the Institute of Management of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations calls for close scrutiny of how the fund would be managed.

He says that if the rules are vague, there is a risk that the fund would become something that people can just "ask and get" money from.

Under the proposal, Vietnam's science minister would appoint the fund's management council, operation agency and supervisory board. The fund would also have a project-appraisal council.