Assoc Prof Dr Mai Anh Tuan, from the 108 Military Central Hospital, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and head of the HAPIE project, asserts that “the collaboration between British consultants and Vietnamese hospitals, universities and businesses for the purposes of HAPIE has yielded impressive and tangible results.”
In 2017, 108 Military Central Hospital carried out a special operation for a patient who had lost a jawbone following an accident. Doctors and specialists from Vietnam (in a team led by Assoc Prof Tran Duc Tang) and the UK (Dr Le Chi Hieu) drew up a pre-operative plan to recreate the patient’s jaw, calculating which other bones in the body could be used for the transplant, building a mock-up of the lost bone, and creating the mock-up using 3D printing technology prior to the operation. The operation was successfully completed in nine hours instead of the usual twelve. This helped mitigate much of the potential risk to the patient, relieved pressure on the doctors, and reduced operating costs. The approach taken to the execution and transfer of this pre-operative procedure has allowed for its application in various hospitals in Vietnam with a high level of precision, an outcome which is highly beneficial for patients, physicians and the community.
The pre-operative planning process outlined above is actually a component of the HAPIE project. HAPIE is focused on building quality human resource capabilities and increasing the employability of students through the design and development of high-value technologies, with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Part of the British Council Vietnam’s initiative for building university partnerships between Vietnam and the UK, the programme is comprised of 17 Vietnamese entities and four British partners. Experts from different fields, including information technology, mechanical engineering, and the medical sciences from universities in both countries, along with Vietnamese tech businesses and hospitals concentrate on technology transfer between the UK and Vietnam. Emphasis is placed on high-value hi-tech products, for example, precision biomedical and mechanical engineering technologies, maritime environment analysis tools, and hi-tech agriculture solutions, among others. Experts from both countries have been working collaboratively on the research and development of cutting-edge technologies, supporting each other in accessing funding, and collaborating on projects seeking to commercialise research outcomes. This is an excellent example of interagency coordination and professional cooperation.
Through two HAPIE workshops in 2017, Vietnamese partners have come to better understand processes around successful commercialisation of tech innovations, from how to identify sources of funding, to how to calculate non-technical social, economic and environmental impacts associated with product development. According to Dr Tuan, colleagues from the UK also shared their experiences in skills development to help universities and institutes quickly get on the same page as industry. Not just limited to theoretical exchanges, HAPIE has also successfully proceeded with three hands-on components in which local partners have had the chance to practice firsthand a wide range of skills and techniques, with consultants from the UK assisting at their side.
HAPIE also has other success stories that Dr Tuan is proud of. One of them is ROBOT3C, a project partner company making robots and other automation products that are marketed in 50 countries. HAPIE, working in tandem with ROBOT3C, applied for and obtained additional funding from the National Technology Innovation Fund (NATIF) in order to focus on perfecting products by applying specific quality and productivity standard to ensure an increasingly secure foothold for Vietnamese robotics in other markets.
“HAPIE is a rare story of success and efficiency,” Dr Tuan said. “Over the 10-month implementation period September 2016 – June 2017, despite the modest initial investment, revenue generated by the project has increased tens of times.” As part of the HAPIE operation, seven individual projects from Vietnamese partners have received financial support in their search for product development funding, with contributions from the Vietnamese and UK governments totaling £384,000.
HAPIE has also been working with the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Light Beam Magazine team and other stakeholders from the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, the VNU University of Science and the Vietnam–Japan University as well as with a wide range of established companies. Roundtable talks have taken place to provide students from technical colleges with the knowledge and skills required to meet industry expectations, prepare for the workplace and find the right job. Each student learned how to project plan, work in a team or independently, and benefited a lot from what consultants had to share about using their new skills on the job. The project has since received a lot of positive feedback from companies who have hired project participants. Dr Tuan told us that, “Many of these participants later became our colleagues. This approach to student training is anchored in academic research and carried out in close association with laboratories, enabling the mastery of both theory and practice. It is an approach that is unafraid to dedicate time to equipping learners with soft skills, and importantly, it seeks to increase dialogue with industry in order to guarantee quality higher education outputs through a training model that can be shared and replicated among other universities.”
Dr Tuan posited that “HAPIE does indeed bring happier outcomes for all.”
“HAPIE helps drastically transform how research outcomes translate into real life in Vietnam.”