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vinfuture prize

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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

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

A. ABOUT THE VINFUTURE FOUNDATION

1. How was the VinFuture Foundation founded?
The events of 2020 – particularly the on-going pandemic – indicate that now more than ever we need to inspire and support our brightest minds across the world to focus on using science and technology to solve our 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 would be 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 an improvement in people’s health, prosperity, productivity, and living conditions, as well as by promoting resilient, sustainable, and equitable growth and development.

We strongly believe that the setting-up 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 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 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 is set up with an initial endowment of VND 2,000 billion (~USD 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. Detailed information about the award amount can be found on our website.

The VinFuture Prize pledges US$ 4.5M 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 from February 3rd, 2021 and closes 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 persons 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. So, there may be people from one institution or from several, and it may well be that it is people with different backgrounds, fields and contributions solving the same problem. The Foundation and the Prize Council decided not to put a tag on the number, because sometimes you may need a team of scientists to come up with a solution for a problem.

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

C. NOMINATION CRITERIA

8. What are the key criteria for nomination?
The key criteria for nominations are:
  • 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 Prizes;
  • 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);
  • Open to researchers or inventors who were involved in developing the underlying solutions, and not entrepreneurs or corporates who helped in 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;
  • Open to individuals or teams of researchers/inventors;
  • Preference for nominees in the active stages of their careers;
  • 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 involved 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 from 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 accepts nominations from both invited nominators as well as nominators who do not receive the 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. Can those who do not receive the invitation from you also nominate candidates for the prizes? 
If you are aware of some organizations or individuals that will be good nominators, please communicate that with the Prize Secretariat and give the Secretariat the opportunity to reach out.

16. As a Nominator, can I nominate proposals 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. And yes, 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.

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

18. Can I serve as a Nominator if my relatives are in 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

19. Can I nominate somebody from my organization?
Yes, you can nominate people from your organization, provided that you are not among the group of researchers who are nominated for the prize.

20. 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.

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

22. Can I nominate a group, an institution or a company or it has to be an individual? Because 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. So, we focus more on the team of people and not the whole organization or company.

23. Science is known 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.

24. Should I contact the nominee so that (s)he will not be nominated multiple times by other people?
No, you don’t have to. 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

25. What documents are needed for the nomination? How detailed this needs 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 it is just about two A4 page nomination form. It requires you to put information of 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 a section for you to upload up to 3 endorsers for the nominee, but this part is optional. After that we have three questions, where you only input around 200-300 words for each of the questions, then you click the submit button. That is all we require for the nomination form.

26. Regarding the Supporting Documentation which we should upload via online nomination form, we can upload up to 10 files, does "10 files" mean we have to upload 10 files?
In the nomination form, we allow up to 10 spots to upload the files in the supporting documents. It does not mean that nominators will have to upload all the 10 files.  You can leave them blank if you do not have any other additional documents to upload.

27. The letter of endorsement should be collected from whom? And the letter of support should also be taken from whom?
The letter of support should come from the nominator. And the letters of
endorsement would come from up to three other endorsers who know the nominee’s work very well. Usually, we are looking for in the letter to provide additional support that the work has been amazing and had a big impact. So, any additional information you can provide to us, that would be great. If it is not easy, that does not matter

28. What are you looking for from the endorser if the nominator chooses to ask the endorser to submit recommendations, 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. But then there is additional information, which will be helpful to us. We would not want a nomination not to be made because the effort of finding endorsers was not appropriate. But for us, if we can have more information, that is helpful, but it is not essential. Endorsements that perhaps can provide some extra breath of impact would be very helpful.

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

30. If the nominee comes from a developing country, and the research is conducted in a developed country, which category should be nominated?
If you want to nominate 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 for Grand Prize or other Special Prizes, it will not matter.

31. 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, if the research breakthrough was carried out in the developing countries.

32I plan to nominate someone for the Special Prize for the Innovators from the Developing Country. That person was born in and grew up in a developing country and has spent most of her career there. In the last two years, she accepted a position at a university in a developed country. However, all of her work was done in the developing country, but she is not living there at this time. Is she eligible to be nominated for the Developing Country Innovators?
Yes, it is eligible to nominate her.  The prize recognizes the body of work that was conducted in the developing country, at the time the researcher/innovator was there.

33. 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 persons work in that same field are nominated for the discovery or breakthrough, that is fine, and that counts as one nomination, but you have two nominees to be considered for the same prize. 

34. 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 have contributed? Or can we just choose to focus on either that scientific research or the innovation?
It would be very helpful for us if we have a fuller context of that trajectory from early inspiration and discovery through to maybe completely critical and non-trivial and innovative implementation phases. We encourage you as a nominator to provide us as much information as possible.

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

36. 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.

37. 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.

38. 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 the following year.

39. How many years are 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

40. How does the Prize Council score the nominations? How should we prioritize the innovations we might suggest based on the criteria that you will ultimately be using?
It is important to stress that we are looking for some underpinning breakthroughs, some intellectual or inventive or surprising developments that lifted a field from where it would have lingered to where it can now get to. That is a necessary condition.

But then, the extent that it has already made a big impact around the world is something we will have to judge. There will be an element of potential to go further. There will be an element of firm evidence that is just really significant. Straight counting of numbers will not be the most useful discriminator.

41. For some scientific innovations, occasionally they are more than one group, more than one team working, even sometimes independently and even in different countries. Can we make an overall nomination for this set of people, who are worked independently, or should the nominator select by himself or by herself the team that seems to be more relevant?
It would be most helpful if nominators can really help by identifying all those who have played 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 end up missing important contributions from another team. So the nomination can certainly be from several groups of people or individuals working in different countries.

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

43. The big prize seems to be very apply-orientated that there is a specific number we are quoting million or 10 million people. And then you got the secondary prize that is emerging fields. How are you going to assess something that emerging and yet would like to have a potential for humanity?
What we are looking for really is evidence that there is a potential for the emerging fields. You will recognize it when you see it with all the evidence that is put in place.

Also, many of our members from both the Pre-Screening Committee and the Prize Council have served in other global prizes. So we have the experience to recognize it. Furthermore, we can consult outside experts as well.

44. Some of the inventions or innovations might have impacted many aspects of sustainability goals. If you take the transistor, almost all aspects of sustainability have been kind of impacted by that. So, in that case, how do you pick what sustainability goal you go after?

It does not matter which or how many of the United Nations sustainability criteria are met. We will want to take a very broad view about that. 

45. 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.

46. How to measure the impact of an idea because you are looking for ideas which has been already demonstrated, which have already shown the impact either on the society or in terms of research impacts, for example, citation. Is that citation among the criteria that the Council is looking for or are there other because the measure of impact sometimes is very subjective? Are there any guidelines on what the criteria are for the impact measurements?
There are different ways to measure the impact. It can be the idea that potentially will lead to the impact for that case, in terms of a publication and the research report. The impact can take the measure in terms of citation. But if you want to say even a bigger impact, say, the whole idea about developing the vaccine for a pandemic. For that particular case, you can see that the impact is already substantial, and the discovery really changes the world. Or if you can find a breakthrough in agriculture that can lead to better crops and provide more food for people. Those inventions may not have the impact in the citation, but it can impact the life of the people.

47. Regarding the Prize for Innovators with “Outstanding achievements in emerging fields”, as a nominator, I can define one of the emerging fields, but will the Prize Council have the same definition of emerging fields?
Basically, the way the Prize Council define “emerging field” is any field that goes non-traditional where its researchers come from different disciplines. So, when you combine multiple disciplines to merge, to form something new, that is what we mean “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.

48. Does VinFuture aim more towards lifetime achievements or does it talk about a major step forward, maybe that can be described to 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 the ones from developing countries. It does not matter if the breakthrough is the lifetime achievement or a single scientific publication.

H. CONFLICT OF INTEREST - CONFIDENTIALITY

49. 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 Council will look carefully at why somebody might have made a nomination.

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

51. 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.