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vinfuture prize

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Below please find answers to the frequently asked questions about the VinFuture Prize, compiled from our webinar sessions as well as email correspondence with nominators.

If you still have any further questions for us, please contact us at: info@vinfutureprize.org.

A. ABOUT THE VINFUTURE FOUNDATION

1. How was the VinFuture Foundation founded?

The events of 2020 – particularly the ongoing pandemic – indicate that more than ever before we need to inspire and support the brightest minds across the world to focus on using science and technology to solve the toughest global challenges.

It is with this context that the VinFuture Foundation came into being, with a mission to positively impact the everyday lives of millions of people across the world through science and technology. The core component of the foundation is the VinFuture Prize, which honors exceptional minds across the world, whose breakthrough scientific research and techno- logical innovations have the potential to create meaningful change at scale through improvements in people’s health, prosperity, productivity, and living conditions, as well as by promoting resilient, sustainable, and equitable growth and development.

The establishment of the VinFuture Foundation is a sign of Vietnam’s continued commitment to inclusive development driven by technological innovations. It aims to inspire talent from all backgrounds to reach higher, take inspiration from the best minds across the world, and contribute to the advancement of humanity.

2. Under what principles does the VinFuture Foundation operate?
The VinFuture Foundation strives to uphold four core values:

  • Equity: We hope to leverage the power of science and technology to serve marginalized communities, and provide equal opportunities to individuals regardless of gender, social status, or nationality.
  • Global Reach: We focus on technologies that have an impact or the potential to create a positive impact on a large-scale, by reaching billions of people across the world.
  • Sustainability: Sustainability is ingrained in our ethos, as technological innovations have the power to improve lives whilst preserving the environment and natural resources for future generations.
  • Pioneering: We aim to reward breakthrough research and technological innovations and support young researchers early on in their journeys to help them realize their fullest potential.

B. ABOUT THE VINFUTURE PRIZE

3. What is the focus of the VinFuture Prize that makes the Prize unique?
The Prize reinforces the idea of a holistic interdisciplinary approach for eligible areas within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields and focus on research topics rather than specific focused fields. The research/invention/innovations of the nominee(s) will need to have proven real-life impacts for the Grand Prize or the potentials to make real-life impacts for the Special Prizes that help solve real-world problems for millions of people which align with at least one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

4. What is the value of the VinFuture Prize and where does the Prize fund come from?
The VinFuture Prize is managed by the VinFuture Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit foundation in Vietnam, which was set up with an initial endowment of VND 2,000 billion (~US$ 100 million) from Mr. Pham Nhat Vuong, the Founder and Chairman of Vingroup JSC, a technology, industry, and services company in Vietnam, and his wife, Madam Pham Thu Huong.

The VinFuture Prize pledges US$ 4.5 million annually to reward breakthrough scientific research and technological innovations. The VinFuture Prize consists of a Grand prize valued at US$3 million and 03 special VinFuture Prizes valued at US$500,000 each. The special prizes will be awarded for the following

The VinFuture Prize pledges US$ 4.5 million annually to reward breakthrough scientific research and technological innovations. The VinFuture Prize consists of a Grand prize valued at US$3 million and 03 special VinFuture Prizes valued at US$500,000 each. The special prizes will be awarded for the following categories:
  • VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators from Developing Countries: Dedicated to an exceptional researcher or innovator currently working in a developing country institute. A list of developing countries by the United Nations is available here.
  • VinFuture Special Prize for Female Innovators: Dedicated to outstanding female researcher(s) or innovator(s)
  • VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators with Outstanding Achievements in Emerging Fields: Awarded for research or innovations that are in an emerging field that has the potential to create positive changes for humanity. The specific emerging field would be decided by the Prize Council annually.
5. What is the timeline for the 2021 VinFuture Prize nomination, screening and selection process?
The 2021 Nomination Form opens on February 3rd, 2021, and closes on June 7th, 2021.

Nominations received after the deadline will be considered for the following year. Nominations received by June 7th will then proceed through multiple rounds of screening by experts in relevant fields before the Prize Council makes their final selection of VinFuture Prize laureates. 

Laureates will officially be announced on December 20th, 2021 and the Prize Ceremony will be held on January 20th, 2022.

6. Is the Grand Prize for one person or a group of people? Will the Grand Prize be shared with two people from different fields? How many people can share a Prize?
The prize can be shared, and it may be shared between people from different fields if contributions from different fields are necessary to deliver global benefit. Therefore, there may be people from one institution or from several institutions with different backgrounds, fields, and contributions solving the same problem. The Foundation and the Prize Council do not put an upper limit on the number of winners for a prize.

7. Are the VinFuture Prizes given annually?
Yes, since the VinFuture Prizes are annual prizes, they are given every year.

C. NOMINATION CRITERIA

8. What are the key criteria for nomination?
The key criteria for nominations are as below:
  • There should be clear evidence, or potential, for an end-product or service based on the solution, which has an everyday practical application;
  • Solutions should have already benefited millions of people in the past 10 years for the Grand Prize, or have the potential to benefit millions of people in the next 10 years for the Special;
  • Solutions should be aligned with one or more of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Solutions must be scientifically proven (i.e., there should be clear evidence of passing relevant scientific trials, and in the case of research, it must be empirically proven or widely reviewed);
  • Nominations are open to researchers or inventors who were/have been involved in developing the underlying solutions, and not entrepreneurs or corporates who helped/have helped in the commercialization/ diffusion of the technology;
  • End-products of the research should benefit people globally, including those from developing and less developed countries, as well as lower-income and disadvantaged communities;
  • Nominations are open to individuals or teams of researchers/inventors;
  • Preference for nominees in the active stages of their careers;
  • The same individual/team can be nominated for one or more of the VinFuture Special Prizes if eligible.

Additional criteria for identifying relevant solutions eligible for nomination include: Research/Solution/Invention can be underpinned in any discipline of science, engineering, or technology, including potentially multi-disciplinary approaches.

9. What are the additional criteria for Nominations for the VinFuture Special Prize for Developing Country Innovators?
This prize is awarded only to researchers or innovators working in a developing country organization. In case of a nomination involving a team, then all the team members should be working in developing country(ies). The center of gravity of their work should be in developing countries.

10. What are the additional criteria for Nominations for the VinFuture Special Prize for Female Innovators?
This prize is awarded only to female researchers or innovators, with no restriction on nationality, age, social status, or economic background of the nominees. For collaboration involving male researchers, only female researchers or innovators will be awarded.

11. What are the additional criteria for Nominations for the VinFuture Special Prize for Emerging Fields?
Solutions must be underpinned in an emerging field that is selected by the Prize Council annually. For the year 2020-21, the emerging field(s) will be decided by the Prize Council as they review the shortlisted nominations. 

D. NOMINATORS

12. What are the roles and responsibilities of a Nominator for the VinFuture Prize?
The roles and responsibilities of Nominators include:

  • Nominating outstanding researchers/inventors (nominees/group of nominees) in science, engineering, technology, or multi-disciplinary approaches to the Grand Prize and three Special Prizes for Developing Country Innovators, Female Innovators, and Outstanding Achievements in Emerging Fields. These nominees are people whose breakthrough scientific research and technological innovations have impacted or will potentially impact the everyday lives of millions of people.
  • Submitting the nomination using our nomination portal (https://online.vinfutureprize.org/nomination). In the nomination form, Nominators will be asked to provide inputs on how the nominated research/solution/invention fulfills the nomination criteria, as part of their rationale for submitting the nomination.
  • Providing additional information or clarification as requested by the Prize Council through the Secretariat, if any.
13. Who is eligible to become a Nominator for the VinFuture Prize?
The VinFuture Prize accepts both organizational/institutional nominators and individual nominators. Eligible nominators come from recognized organizations such as universities, research institutes or centers, academies of science and technology, scientific associations or networks, corporations and industries, innovation incubators, and prominent individuals in the related areas.

14. Can I nominate researchers/inventors for the prizes if I do not receive an invitation from the Foundation?
For 2021, VinFuture Prize is accepting nominations from both invited nominators as well as nominators who did not receive invitation letters from the VinFuture Prize, provided that they meet the criteria approved by the VinFuture Foundation.

If you are interested in nominating someone, please send your CV to the Prize Secretariat: secretariat@vinfutureprize.org.

15. As a Nominator, can I nominate someone from my own organization, or must I nominate researchers or inventors from elsewhere?
Yes, you can nominate researchers/inventors from your own organization, provided that the nominated project/solution does not include yourself in the team. You can definitely nominate prominent researchers/inventors anywhere in the world if their breakthrough scientific research and technological innovations have impacted or will potentially impact the everyday lives of millions of people.

16. Are virtual or in-person meetings and travels required for the role of a Nominator?
Follow-up emails may be needed for additional information requested by the Prize Council, operated through the Secretariat. Meetings and travels are not required.

17. Can I serve as a Nominator if my relatives are on the Pre-Screening Committee or the Prize Council of the VinFuture Prize?
As a matter of avoiding all conflicts of interest, we do not accept relatives of the Prize Council and the Pre-Screening Committee to serve as Nominators. However, we would be grateful if you could refer other qualified researchers and inventors to become nominators for the VinFuture Prize.

E. NOMINEES

18. Can I nominate laureates of other global prizes?
Yes, laurates of other prizes can be nominated for the VinFuture Prize if their work meets the criteria of the Prize. We do not set the limits on the previous winning prizes of nominees. Our criteria are different from those of other global prizes.

19. We are a science institution, and if we nominate a person or a group inside our institution, is it considered a self-nomination?
No. In this situation, if your institution nominates a group of scientists within your institution, that will not be considered as self-nomination.

20. Can I nominate a group, an institution or a company or does it have to be an individual since discoveries from a company or an association may have a major impact on people?
Even though you have an organization behind the research/invention, there is always a core group of people that help develop that solution. As such, we focus more on the team of people and not the whole organization or company.

21. For some scientific innovations, occasionally there is more than one group, more than one team working, even sometimes independently and even in different countries. Can the nominator make an overall nomination for these people, who have worked independently, or should the nominator nominate the team that seems to be more relevant?
It would be most helpful if nominators can really help by identifying all those who have made essential contributions to the innovation. It would be much more helpful if the nominator does provide as much information as possible so that we definitely do not miss important contributions from another team. Therefore, the nomination can certainly be for several groups of people or individuals working in different countries.

22. Science is defined very broadly. Could I nominate anthropologists and social scientists for the VinFuture Prizes?
VinFuture Prize focuses on science, engineering, and technology. The fundamental focus of the research must be inventions related to science as in STEM.

23. Should I contact the nominee so that (s)he will not be nominated multiple times by other people?
No, you should not. If multiple people nominate the same person, that is even better, because this means his/her work is recognized by a number of people.

F. NOMINATION PROCESS

24. What documents are needed for the nomination? How detailed do they need to be?
We try to make the nomination form as simple as possible. We may require more information as we go to the later stages, but for the initial nomination, the nomination form is just about two A4 pages. It requires you to input information about you as the nominator and the nominee, i.e. the candidate. We also ask you to submit a letter of support for the nominee. There is also an optional section for you to upload up to 3 endorsers for the nominee. The nomination form also includes a 3-question section in which each question requires a 200-300 word answer.

25. The Online Nomination Form accepts up to 10 files of supporting documents. Does this mean we have to upload all 10 files?
In the nomination form, we allow up to 10 spots to upload the files for the supporting documents. It does not mean that nominators will have to upload all 10 files.  You can leave them blank if you do not have any other additional documents to upload.

26. Whom should the letter of endorsement be collected from? And whom should the letter of support be taken from?
The letter of support should come from the nominator. And the letters of endorsement would come from up to three endorsers who know the nominee’s work very well.

27. What are you looking for from an endorser if the nominator chooses to ask the endorser to submit a recommendation? Exactly what are you expecting from letters from the endorsers?
There is core information that we do require such as the discovery/invention and the impact. At the same time, there is additional information, which will be helpful to us. We would not want to discourage a nominator from submitting a nomination due to the challenge of finding endorsers. If we can have more information from the endorsement, that will be helpful, but it is not essential.

28. How would we choose nationality if the nominee has dual citizenship?
You should select the country where the nominee currently lives and works if you are not sure of their nationality or if they have dual citizenship.

29. If the nominee comes from a developing country, and the research is conducted in a developed country, for which category should the person be nominated?
If you want to nominate someone for the Special Prize for Innovators from Developing Countries then both the research and the scientist who conducts the research must be from a developing country. If you want to nominate a candidate for the Grand Prize or other Special Prizes, where s/he comes from will not matter.

30. If the nominee and the research are from a developing country, but the nominee’s current position is in a developed country, is it possible to nominate him/her for the VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators from Developing Countries?
Yes, it is if the research breakthrough was carried out in the developing country.

31. In science and engineering, very often, there is more than one person who is responsible for the advance, so if I nominate two people, does that count as a single nomination, or is that broken into two?
If two people working in the same field are nominated for discovery or breakthrough, that will be counted as one nomination. That nomination has two nominees.

32. I read that the prize is intended to honor breakthrough scientific research and technological innovations. The scientific research might have been done by some individuals, whereas the translation to the innovation itself might have been done by someone else. Are we obliged to include everyone who has contributed to the innovation? Or can we just choose?
It would be very helpful for us if we have a fuller context of the trajectory from early inspiration and discovery through to maybe completely critical and innovative implementation phases. We encourage you as a nominator to provide us as much information as possible.

33. Am I allowed to make two nominations for two different achievements, which involve different people for one prize category, or can I only send one nomination for one category?
The rules at the moment are that you can make one nomination for each of the four prizes.

34. Is the nominator required to inform the nominee and have his/her consent for the nomination?
The VinFuture Foundation keeps the information about the nominations confidential. While we leave it to the nominators to decide, we encourage the nominators to keep their nominations confidential as well. We do not have a specific requirement or control from our side. Therefore, it is at the nominators’ discretion to contact the nominees to ask for their consent.

35. Are patents accepted as supporting materials for the nominee?

If it is a granted patent, it must be inventive and novel. And if it turns out to meet the criteria that it unlocks an opportunity, then it would be a very appropriate piece of evidence.

36. If I miss this year’s deadline, will I have a chance next year to nominate?
VinFuture is an annual prize. If you cannot make it to this year’s deadline, then the nominations submitted after the deadline this year will be considered for the VinFuture Prize of the following year.

37. How many years is the nomination valid for? Once a nomination is submitted, how many years will it be kept for consideration, or does it have to be resubmitted every year?
We will keep it for three years. However, we may reach out to the nominator to see if he/she would like to update the nomination or provide additional information.

G. EVALUATION PROCESS

38. How will the Prize Council be able to investigate and validate the claims that are made?
We have a team comprising of the Prize Council, the Pre-screening Committee, and the foundation secretariat to reach out and do rigorous investigations. We will also invite external council members to provide their opinion in that area of expertise to ensure the validity and accuracy of the claims. 

39. How do you measure the impact of an idea/innovation? What are the criteria for the impact measurements?
There are different ways to measure the impact of an innovation. Sometimes, the impact can be measured in terms of citations, publications, or reports. However, in other cases, it is measured by the real-life impact the innovation brings about.  For example, with the Covid vaccine discovery, the impact is substantial and the discovery really changes the world. Or else, a breakthrough in agriculture can lead to better crops and provide more food for people. Those inventions may not have an impact in terms of citations, but they can impact the lives of people.

40. Some of the inventions or innovations might have impacted many aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGD). For example, almost all aspects of sustainability have been impacted by the invention of a transistor. In that case, how do you pick what SDGs in the nomination form?
In such a case, please pick as many relevant SDGs as possible. We do not set limits on how many SDGs you can choose for a nominated invention.

41. Will nominators be contacted later on for clarifications, perhaps after the nomination closes?
If there is a need for clarification, the Secretariat may contact the nominator.

42. Regarding the Prize for Innovators with “Outstanding achievements in emerging fields”, how will the Prize Council define emerging fields?
“Emerging field” is any field that is non-traditional and its researchers may come from different disciplines. In other words, when multiple disciplines are combined to merge and to form something new, that is what we mean by “emerging fields.” Some examples of emerging fields are Quantum Computing or Neuromorphic Computing, Bioelectronics, Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Biometrics, Quantum Biology, Bioengineering, etc.

43. Does VinFuture aim more towards lifetime achievements or does it talk about a major step forward, maybe that can be described in a single scientific publication that can be game-changing?
What the Foundation looks for is breakthrough scientific discoveries that should be affordable and impactful for many people, especially those from developing countries. It does not matter if the breakthrough is a lifetime achievement or a single scientific publication. 

H. CONFLICT OF INTEREST - CONFIDENTIALITY

44. Is there any guideline on identifying and managing potential conflict of interest in stakeholders, ranging from personal or professional?
It is always helpful for us if the nominator states in the letter the relationship between him/her to the nominee, whether he/she is a former student or someone the nominator admires from afar. The Prize Council will look carefully at why somebody might have made a nomination.

45. Can you make the list of nominations public?
We do not make the list of nominations public. This is a standard procedure for many global prizes.

46. If a nominator belongs to a team of nominees, is it possible to continue with the nomination?

No, you cannot serve as a nominator and be a member of the research team that you nominate. This is a conflict of interest.