January 10, 2024 15:33 WAJ
After three decades of research and practical application in the field of paint, specifically a decade of nano paint research, scientist and Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe, Chairwoman of the Kova Group, was certified by the Nano World Council and granted a license to market all types of nano paints. In 1993, with her research topic on waterproof paint, she was awarded the Kovalevskaya Award, a prestigious award for female scientists in the US.

WAJ: Dear Associate Professor, to establish the Kova brand in Vietnam today, you have gone through a lot of difficulties, particularly making three very daring decisions. Would you please share with us more about those decisions?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: The first daring decision was to bring three young children to university. The youngest was 19 months old, and the oldest was three years old. I was a student at the Vietnam University of Sciences and Technology. Through hard work, I was later hired to teach and became an associate professor. The second daring decision was to travel to the United States to receive the Kovalevskaya Award during the US embargo of Vietnam. As a result, I had to travel to other countries before arriving in the United States. I arrived just in time for the award ceremony. The third daring decision was to introduce Kova Paint to the most demanding market: Singapore. Kova Paint has been on the market in Singapore for 20 years and has been widely applied to major projects such as Vivocity and Singapore's largest hospitals. At present, Kova Paint has been guaranteed a warranty of 5 years, and the Vietnamese government will refund the money after 5 years for the warranty of Kova Paint. Kova Paint has been applied to these projects and still looks new after 10 years. We are very pleased with this. Although we spent several billion Vietnamese dongs trying to meet all of Singapore's quality standards while we were very poor. Singapore is very demanding, and they sent samples of Kova Paint to other countries for testing. In the end, we found out that our daring decision was very beneficial. In Vietnam, we always think that our paint is great, but it's not until we go abroad that we know how good our quality is. Currently, Kova is present in 7 countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Germany, and the United States (the US has not had a factory yet). In Germany, we already have a factory, but due to the pandemic, the plant has not yet opened. Next year, we will open, focusing on producing all nanopaint and nanopaint made entirely from rice husks. No one else in the world has done this. With basic chemicals, we make ours from rice husks, so the cost goes down while the quality remains very good, which is especially good for protecting the environment.

WAJ: With our presence in highly competitive markets such as Singapore, Russia, Germany, and the United States, and our desire to have Kova Paint in any place where Vietnamese people can be found, might it be that our presence represents the voice of Vietnamese trade on an international level?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: Just like that, nowadays, wherever we go, people already knew the name Kova and the nanopaint, which is the world's first nanopaint certified by the International Nano Council. After they tested the samples from Malaysia, the quality was excellent. Maybe we can say: We have produced very special paint systems. In addition to ordinary consumer paints, we also produce bulletproof paints, stab-resistant paints, and fire-resistant paints. The fire-resistant paint can last for many hours. The special thing is that our fire-resistant paint is the world's first with VOC at 0, compared to all other fire-resistant paints on the market, which are 200 or more. When it burns, they may not die of burns but still die due to suffocation. However, our paint does not contain VOC, so when a fire breaks out, people inside have enough time to escape without suffocation. The current situation of many fires and deaths is due to suffocation. Many countries want to become general distributors of Kova Nano paint precisely because of this reason.


Assoc.Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Hoe introduces new experiments to the international political delegation in December 2023 (Photo: WAJ)

WAJ: KOVA has continuously overcome quality challenges in testing and developing new products with special features such as bulletproof paint, fire-resistant paint, and most recently, waterproof and high-gloss paint used for wood, steel, metal, and concrete; or heat-resistant high-gloss paint used for glass, crystal, plastic, and stainless steel; and heat-resistant self-cleaning, antibacterial, and high-temperature paint used for fabric, imitation leather, and artificial leather. May the professor share more about these innovations and what makes KOVA paint different from other brands in the Vietnamese and international markets?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: Waterproof coatings normally cannot achieve those features, but nanocoatings can. Because nanoparticles are the smallest molecular particles, smaller than bacteria, they can enter the intestines of the bacteria and kill them by capillary attraction, so this antibacterial coating is very popular. The second is that nano enters the bacteria's intestines not because it is toxic but to kill the bacteria by the method of capillary digestion; that is, it makes the intestine of the bacteria break off, not to poison and die. That's why when you use paint for walls, it's not harmful. The nanoparticle is smaller than one thousandth of a micrometer; it can penetrate deep into the surface of the material and exist there for a long time. Right now, in addition to fire-resistant, anti-stab, bulletproof paint, and antibacterial paint, our greatest success is ship coatings to prevent barnacles from attaching to the hull of the ship. This paint is used for drill ships and other surfaces that come into contact with sea water. All such paints require solvents, but solvent-based paints are very toxic, while Kova paint is water-based, has the smallest nanoparticles, and can enter deeply into the inside. That's the special feature of nanopaint.

WAJ: In 1993, with the research topic of waterproof coating and many achievements in research, the Deputy Professor was awarded the Kovalevskaya Award, a prestigious award for female scientists. She was then dedicated to establishing the Kova Award to inspire individuals and organizations in the scientific field with the aim of encouraging applied science, spreading humanitarian action, and nurturing young talents. May she introduce an overview of the results and the spread of the values of the Kova Award from 2002 to the present?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: After I went to the US to receive the Kovalevskaya Award, when I returned, I met with Madam Nguyen Thi Binh, who at that time was the Deputy Chairman of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front. We discussed setting up the Kova Award. I was once a very poor and struggling student, yet I was able to go to college, so I thought that I should do something for the students in similar situations, as I empathize with their circumstances. Then, we decided to set up the Kova Award for disadvantaged but meritorious students, without limit to the number of awards, and particularly for students with scientific research proposals and for scientists who had made special scientific achievements. Next, we have the bright examples in society—the examples of good deeds, philanthropy, and emotional images in life. I also promised the people of the time that I would establish the award, and that is the Kova Award, which has been awarded for 21 years now. It has been given to thousands of students, scientists, and examples of the “light” in society. Although the award amounts are not very high, their significance is very great. The highest award is 50 million, 30 million, or 10 million Vietnamese dong. This shows that the company was not extremely wealthy; however, we have always been trying to fulfil it for 21 years. Especially in the year of COVID-19, we focused on awarding medical students and medical personnel.


Mr. Ngo Sy Tuyen, Director of Kova Malaysia (the eldest son of Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Thi Hoe) (standing first on the right), signs a cooperation agreement (MOU) with partners from various countries in December 2023 (Photo: Kova).

WAJ: We were able to witness the grand 21st Kova Award and Scholarship Distribution Ceremony (2023) and have seen that it is an encouragement and a tribute to young Vietnamese scientists. This has touched the hearts of those being honored as well as those who observed. Dear Associate Professor, the Kova Award is granted to individuals and organizations in the country annually. Do you and the Award Committee intend to expand the scope of awards to overseas Vietnamese individuals, people of Vietnamese descent, and foreigners who have made many contributions to society and communities and are suitable for the Kova Award in the future?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: I do have that idea; right now we plan to open it for countries where Kova is present, like Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Germany, and the US. Those countries are rather wealthy; therefore, we don't plan to give out scholarships just yet, but rather scientific awards. This gives students in those countries an opportunity to exchange research experiences with each other. We will do it at the appropriate time.

WAJ: Do you have any comments on young Vietnamese scientists?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: I have spoken with young Vietnamese scientists at the University of Technology, Hanoi; they are very good, but in my opinion, they have not been successful yet. The first reason is that research must be completed; rather than being abandoned in a drawer after research, it must create benefits for society to have meaning. It's also like when I do research, I will focus a lot on what can be applied. The second thing is to research until the end and respect real values. One special thing for students to remember is that when starting research, don't think about money right away. If we think about money right away, then we have to wait until we have money and then do the next thing; that won't do. We have to forget it, and we have to do it with our passion. I think that's very successful, and if we can get talents like that, it would be great.

WAJ: Is that also the most important message that you want to convey to the young scientists?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: The most important message that I have shared with students throughout my 30 years of teaching at the university is that they must strive their hardest. Science must be honest, and data must always be accurate, without any subjectivity; don't be hesitant about anything in science. Don't advertise if you have a little success. For more than 30 years, we have never advertised Kova paint on TV, not even for an hour. It's because I think the most important thing is to let rain seep in and soak up over time. Customers will feel it's excellent and good and will buy it on their own. If we advertise like that, we feel we can't do it. Many manufacturers make advertisements that are not entirely true, making people confused. I advise all young scientists to be absolutely honest with their data, to make products that are useful to society, and to apply it to real life once it's done. The result has already reached us. We only started in one country with a few companies, but now we have 12 companies in 7 countries. It is thanks to science, honesty, and accuracy that it can be used extensively.

WAJ: Dear Associate Professor, What is your greatest wish in life?

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Thi Hoe: My wish is not for wealth but for things that serve society and get money to do charitable social work. Money is for contributing to society, not for personal gain. I have enough retirement income, so I don't need the results of the company's research. I am the president and chairman of the corporation in seven countries, and I have never taken any salary from foreign companies. My final wish is to serve society as much as possible, to be useful for society, to help the poor, and especially to help young scientists.

WAJ: Thank you so much! Your three bold and wise decisions in your lifetime and the image of you eating cup ramen and sleeping at the foot of the escalator at the airport when trying to go to America to cooperate in research to achieve the achievements you have today for yourself and Vietnam—as researchers and scientists, we respect and admire you. Thank you for inspiring many generations of students and young Vietnamese scientists!

Ho Chi Minh City, December 3rd, 2023

Executor: Dr. Yen Platz (Austria), Thao Nguyen (Viet Nam)



Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Doan, Former Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Chairwoman of the Kova Vietnam Prize Foundation (fourth from the right), attends the launching ceremony of Kova Nanopaint Company in Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam, in December 2023 (Photo: Kova)

Kova has brought ship painting technology from harmful oil-based systems to safe, non-harmful water-based systems, reducing cancer-causing solvent emissions for workers and users. Kova Nano has and continues to change global shippainting technology into a new chapter. Kova Nano types: Kova Nano metal paint, Kova Nano wood paint, Kova Nano self-cleaning paint, Kova Nano fire-resistant paint, Kova Nano transportation paint, Kova Nano sports paint, Kova Nano waterproofing paint, Kova Nana anti-bacterial paint, Kova Nano clear. 

Prominent features of Kova Nano: Kova nanoparticles are extremely small, nanometer-sized silica particles that penetrate deep into the paint material to create a thin, strong, and sustainable protective layer. Kova Nano contains nanometre-sized silver, nanometre-sized zinc, and nanometre-sized bronze particles, ensuring long durability, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial properties, high adhesion, high resistance to abrasion, water, and chemical wear, and excellent water resistance. Kova Nano is non-toxic, odorless, and extremely safe for workers in enclosed areas and can be used immediately after application. Kova Nano dries very quickly, making it suitable for all types of materials and thus widely applicable in industrial fields such as chemical factories, power plants, pipes, oil rigs, machines, vehicles, and aircraft. 

Kova Nano has been certified by the US SGS as meeting food safety standards.


Writer To Hoai is famous for his book De Men Adventure Ky (1941) written for children. Currently, "Crickets" have traveled all over the world. The story has been translated into many languages and published in many countries around the world. He is likened to the Andersen of Vietnam.


At first glance, she doesn't stand out when standing next to her Asian girls, I become more and more in the middle European women. Yet, people like look at you, especially like to peek, every time you say, or every time she laughs. Asian-style face Dong, round black eyes that can talk, the corner of his mouth when also fresh. Long, silky black hair, clear voice, Standard and flexible pronunciation even when I speak the language German and Vietnamese.