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When we change the way we communicate
we change the society.
- Clay Shirky -

10 ideas for leveraging on foreign experts to foster scientific and technological innovation in Vietnam.

I have a strong belief that in our digital era, Vietnam can organise a new kind of “Brain drain” campaign that is much more cost effective than the traditional model that involved moving people permanently or even at the scale of years. In the fast-paced environment we are living, we can move people at the scale of weeks or month and still have a significant impact. The most recent advances on information technology but also in people’s mindset allow to aim for an even finer granularity with experts bringing contribution remotely.

Creating connections is the start point of all possible cooperation. The most important obstacle today for these cooperations is not the lack of experts, nor the lack of knowledge transfer tools, but the socio-psychological barriers that blocks the experts, such as :

– “There is nothing I know that I can share, all my knowledge and experience belong to my employer”

– “I’ve been raised far away from Vietnam and it is a totally strange country to me.”

– “I don’t have time for such a serious commitment/involvement”

– “My parents / friends / peers would not like that I help Vietnam”

Unfortunately there is no silver bullet in changing all these mental barriers. However, there are actionables. We can change people’s worldview by presenting them another worldview, and creating enough intimacy for them to consider it. The worldview we want to present being nothing more than the reality of today’s Vietnam, the tricky part  of the challenge is to gain enough intimacy to get listened to. That’s what I call creating connections. Here are 10 ideas to create connection within the Foreign Experts community :

 1. The missing connection:     

Build a single referential listing and pointing towards all papers and articles published by vietnamese and viet kieu scientists.

Increase their visibility and group them in order to connect the authors and increase their consciousness of being vietnamese.

 2. The Air pass:   

Foreign experts who have already returned to Vietnam once in the year and show sufficient credentials can get their second and third ticket paid by MoST if they have a cooperation project to develop. Subsequent travels would be subsidized 50% by MoST and 50% by the project.

 3. The Tribe kit:  

Identify existing social communities and foster the creation of vietnam lover sub-groups by identifying an opinion leader within each, then supplying him/her with the means to reinforce the group. Examples : the vietnamese community of Renault employees, the Vietnamese community of HEC school alumni, the vietnamese community of the Paris Law bar. Once the opinion leader is identified, he would be supported with invitation to cultural events, or logistical help on organising their own events.

 4.      Online activism:   

Maintain online presence thru social networks, also support our community members in helping them getting reputation (echoing their activities)

 5. Stand out of the crowd:       

Increase visibility of vietnamese-produced articles and papers by submitting them in international databases, open directories, and translating their abstracts

 6. Scout the stars:         

Recognize all Phd graduations from viet kieu in the world : Film the thesis defense, publish the thesis

 7. Money speak for your heart:         

Use crowdsourcing to gather a tribe of donors.Start with a small, innocent cultural project such as putting Huu Ngoc’s book online, and then grow from that to finance bigger projects such as Khan academy in vietnamese

 8. Spreading Ideas:       

Support localization of TED talks and other hi-quality educational video content to increase exposure of young vietnamese to innovation and science.

 9. Klouting Vietnam:     

Create buzz with a viet-tech “Who’s who” website and mobile app. Compounding Expertise, Influence and Contribution.

 10. Star Tour:     

Send packpacking students to tour the campuses across Europe, to meet and interview vietnamese professors and teachers.

I hope we get to realize some of them in the near future!

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