The Ministry of Science and Technology confirmed at a recent exhibition that the government was putting huge capital in modernizing research laboratories countrywide, but this investment is still inadequate in meeting the continuous and increasing needs of research and training teams.
In fact, the government has spent VND50-70 billion (approx. US$2.39-3.34 million) in building 17 new laboratories as well as providing capital to many research centers in universities and major institutes around the country. Yet, this is merely a drop in the ocean compared to the rising need in Vietnam.
A senior scientist at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Sciences commented that the real trouble did not lie in the amount of money coming, but the way it was distributed among research centers.
Without a clear orientation, the government had delivered money evenly to every laboratory, around VND100 million per year ($4,780) for a departmental lab and VND200-300 million per year ($9,560-14,340) for a central lab, regardless of their real need.
With such a low sum of money, researchers cannot even buy regular equipment, let alone state-of-the-art tools and machinery. He recommended that even though each laboratory has its own method of operations and research, the government should distribute funds according to the annual research work, which can be evaluated by related agencies.
Dr. Huynh Quyen, director of the Petrochemical Refinery Center, believes all laboratories should not depend on government budget for every activity but find sponsors from every possible source such as non-refundable loans, non-government organizations, or companies.
He mentioned the case of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technical Education as an example. In the period between 2009 and 2010, it received nearly $1.7 million for major scientific projects from such business organizations as General Electronic Corp. (VND20 billion or $956,000 to build an electric laboratory) or Rockwell Automation Co. ($355,603 to build an automatic modernized lab).
Therefore, it is clear from the above model that the central government should focus capital on public research centers and encourage the labs of universities and colleges to find their own source of sponsorship depending on their real needs.