International Innovators Award Vietnam


The International Innovators Award is an initiative of the SEPT Competence Center and the International Startup Campus project in Vietnam. Together with our partners in Vietnam, we identify and support innovative business ideas with technology-oriented and knowledge-based products that have the potential for global implementation and economic success. 


Starting in 2024, SEPT will launch a new version of the International Innovator Award (IIA 2024) to provide more comprehensive support for Vietnamese startups in developing and implementing their business ideas in Germany. This support will include assistance in developing and completing applications for the EXIST Startup Grant for international founders.

The IIA 2024 process:

Phase 1: Selected teams with the most innovative and promising business ideas will receive an invitation to Leipzig, Germany for approximately 2 to 3 weeks. During this period, they can further develop their cases and receive support to complete and submit their application for an EXIST Start-up Grant for international founders in Germany.

Phase 2: Upon receiving the EXIST Start-up Grant, the team will be invited to Leipzig, Germany once again to transform their business idea into a product, solution, or service within a 12 month timeframe. During this time, they will receive all necessary consulting support from startup coaches, access to office space, and connections to the startup network, partners, or investors in Germany.


After 12 months, the startups can choose to continue working in Germany or return to Vietnam without any obligations.


Target group:

  • Entrepreneur teams (up to three members) from Vietnam with very good English skills.
  • Scientists from public non-profit research institutes and universities.
  • University graduates and former academic staff members (up to five years after getting a degree or dropping out).
  • With innovative, technology-oriented and knowledge-based business ideas with significant unique selling proposition and good prospects of economic success.
  • With first product prototypes.
  • Those seeking financial support for further development of their innovative, technology-based startup projects.
  • Willing to spend at least 12 months in Germany.
  • Please note: Established companies are not eligible for this program.


Our offer:

  • The qualified teams will receive an invitation to Leipzig, Germany to develop and submit the EXIST Start-up Grant application.
  • Co-financed tickets and accommodation in Germany for the founding team (maximum 2 members) for a period of maximum 3 weeks (€1,500 per team for 2 weeks; single person will receive €1,000).
  • Individual complex support from a team of experts and coaches for proposal development and its submission.


EXIST Business Start-up Grant:

  • EXIST Start-up Grant for a team of up to 3 team members, with a duration of up to 12 months (ranging from €2,500 to €3,000 per team member per month).
  • Support of up to €30,000 per team for materials and equipment.
  • Comprehensive support, including consulting, coaching and mentoring from the Start-up Initiative SMILE, external experts as well as free office space.
  • Access to the German business network.
  • Access to both the German and Vietnamese target markets.
  • Access to one of the largest Vietnamese communities in Europe.


Detailed Process

  • Submit your application, including all necessary information and required documents, through our application website (see the requirements below).
  • Your application will be reviewed by a team of German coaches and experts from the field.
  • After the initial review, there will be 1-2 online meetings between the founding team from Vietnam and coaches and experts from Germany including a Q&A session.
  • Receive feedback from the German expert team and a final decision.
  • If the feedback is positive, plan a short-term stay in Germany to prepare the EXIST Start-up Grant proposal.
  • During this two-week stay in Germany, you will receive necessary support from German coaches and experts to prepare the EXIST Start-up Grant proposal.
  • If you receive positive feedback from the donor organization, further planning for your stay in Germany will be arranged.



Applicants are required to submit a description of their innovative business idea (PDF file, maximum 10 pages, including full contact information) that addresses the following points:

  • A brief presentation of the innovative business idea.
  • The technology or technical solution on which the product or service is based.
  • The current stage of development of your innovation (Is it just an idea, or does a prototype already exist, etc.?)
  • The global market potential for your solution.
  • How your solution differentiates itself from existing solutions in the market.
  • The competencies your team possesses to implement the idea in real life. Please introduce your team.
  • Your specific objectives during the EXIST Start-up Grant support period in Germany. Please provide details.

Submit your application now!

To submit your application please complete the application form and attach your idea description, or send it via email to our coordinator. 

This is an open and ongoing program, so there is no application deadline.
Each application will be evaluated and selected individually.

The EXIST Start-up Grant

The EXIST Business Start-up Grant supports studets, graduates and scientists from universities and research institutes who want to turn theirbusiness idea into a business plan. The start-up projects should be innovative technology or knowledge-based projects with significant unique features and good commercial prospects of success.

Our Partners

University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City
UII - UEH Institute of Innovation
SMILE Leipzig
The City of Leipzig
VINASA Vietnam


IIA Flyer

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Wojtek Muras
University of Leipzig
+49 341 9 733760

He works as a lecturer and consultant for the SEPT Competence Center (SME Promotion and Training) at the Leipzig University and develops various…

+49 341 9 733760
Hien Nguyen
Representative of SEPT Competence Center in Vietnam
University of Leipzig
Gunnar Kaßberg
University of Leipzig
+49 341 9 733760

Gunnar Kaßberg is responsible for the coordination of the project in Leipzig and works as a lecturer and consultant. He has many years of experience in…

+49 341 9 733760