[Nature] Honouring life-changing science and technology

* The original article is available on Nature here.

Asia-Pacific’s most lucrative science and technology prize champions equitable science and real-world impact

In 2020, the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic changed the world, turning essential needs — the right to an education and freedom of movement — into luxuries. This, says the VinFuture Foundation’s designated representative Dr Le Mai Lan, was a key motivation behind the development of a new science and technology prize, with a desire to champion world-changing research at its core.

The first annual VinFuture Prize is administered by the VinFuture Foundation, a Vietnamese not-for-profit foundation established by Pham Nhat Vuong, the chairman of Vingroup, and his wife, Pham Thu Huong. The prize aims to recognize science and technology breakthroughs that will bring positive change to the everyday lives of millions of people.

At US$3 million, the VinFuture grand prize is worth approximately three times more than any other annual science prize in the region. Three special prizes recognizing female scientists, scientists from developing countries, and scientists with outstanding achievements in emerging fields, valued at US$500,000 each will also be awarded. “Awards are needed to promote the applications of science and technology for everyone, regardless of age, nationality, gender, or income,” says Le, who also serves as Vingroup’s vice chairwoman.

Along with the great renowned science awards, Nobel, Turing, and Fields, the VinFuture Prize is committed to recognizing breakthrough research and technological innovations that improve the quality of human life, and create a more equitable and sustainable world. The prize’s nomination criteria, such as alignment with at least one United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, reflect this commitment.

“Scientists are acutely aware of the variety and severity of the problems facing our society today. Any bold initiative like the VinFuture Prize will be enthusiastically welcomed by the community,” says Gérard Mourou, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics and VinFuture Prize council member.

To date, more than 700 scientists, and organizations from more than 36 countries, representing 6 continents have registered to submit nominations. "This impressive figure reflects the positive response from the world scientific community, as well as VinFuture’s meaningful goal of serving humanity," says Le.

“We may not all speak the same language, but we can bring together most of the relevant scientists on the planet for progress on a common objective, like COVID-19. This is extremely encouraging and a magnificent example of solidarity on a global scale,” says Mourou.

And it’s in this spirit of solidarity that the VinFuture Prize is working to elevate world-class research.