2023 VinFuture Prize celebrates four scientific works on the theme of “Limitless Unity”

The VinFuture Foundation has recognized four groundbreaking scientific achievements in 2023. The prestigious $3 million Grand Prize was given to the "Innovation in developing a sustainable framework for renewable energy by utilizing solar cells for generation and Lithium-ion batteries for storage."

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Three VinFuture Special Prizes were awarded to “Invention and advancement of disease-resistant rice varieties”, “The discovery of the ozone depletion mechanism in Antarctica”, and “The discovery of the role of glucagon-like peptides-1 (GLP-1), paving the way for widely used treatments for diabetes and obesity.”

His Excellency Vo Van Thuong – the President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam awarded the VinFuture Main Prize worth $3 million to 4 winners.

The 2023 VinFuture Prize Award Ceremony was broadcast live nationally on Vietnam National Television VTV1. The ceremony was graced with the presence of His Excellency Vo Van Thuong – the President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, and leaders of domestic ministries and departments, international ambassadors, and eminent scientists from around the world.

The four winning works surpassed nearly 1,400 impressive nominations originating from 90 countries and territories. These breakthroughs have a profound impact on the present and future of humanity in crucial fields such as green and sustainable energy, climate change response, sustainable agriculture, food security, and healthcare, impacting the lives of billions of people worldwide.

Remarkably, all the projects share a common thread of collaboration between developed and developing countries, leveraging the diversity of different groundbreaking inventions. Through this, the awarded breakthroughs have created comprehensive technologies of global significance, contributing to the construction of a sustainable future for humanity.

Speaking at the Award Ceremony, President Vo Van Thuong said: “With a global vision and a “Boundless Unity” approach, the VinFuture Prize recognizes and honors scientists who have outstanding research works. Innovative and groundbreaking technologies with high practical applications are crucial for enhancing people’s lives and fostering connections within the worldwide scientific community.

Since the first series of the award until now, the VinFuture Prize has consistently pursued its mission of “science for humanity” with a focus on the four core values: Equality, Global Reach, Sustainability, and Pioneering. It has achieved steady growth in quality, quantity, and diversity, as well as gained increasing international attention, influence, and reputation.

The President also affirmed that: “The success of the VinFuture Prize as a well-deserved outcome of the founder’s diligent and committed efforts. I express my appreciation and congratulations to the founders who established this Award.”

The 2023 VinFuture Grand Prize was awarded to four scientists: Prof. Martin Andrew Green (Australia), Prof. Stanley Whittingham (United States), Prof. Rachid Yazami (Morocco), and Prof. Akira Yoshino (Japan) for their breakthrough inventions in creating a sustainable platform for green energy through production with solar cells and storage with Lithium-ion batteries.

The combination of these transformative projects spearheaded a revolution in sustainable green energy solutions for the modern world. Prof. Martin Green and his research team pioneered the Passive Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) technology, elevating energy conversion efficiency from 15% to an impressive 25%. These advancements deliver exceptional utilities, even in regions with limited sunlight conditions. Since its mass production in 2012, PERC solar cells have commanded a significant 60% share of the global solar cell market.

Meanwhile, the advent of Lithium-ion battery storage has extended the reach of energy consumption across all geographical regions and socioeconomic classes, providing widespread access to green and sustainable energy solutions. Lithium-ion batteries power 15 billion mobile devices and 26 million electric vehicles globally, thanks to the work of outstanding scientists: Prof. Stanley Whittingham, Prof. Rachid Yazami, Prof. Akira Yoshino, and the late Prof. John Goodenough. The award ceremony also paid tribute to and honored the late Prof. John Goodenough – a pioneering scientist whose invention enabled Lithium-ion batteries to be safely rechargeable for the first time, improving efficiency and saving resources.

The synergy of these two groundbreaking technological revolutions has promoted the widespread adoption and accessibility of clean energy in our everyday lives through the conversion of solar energy into electricity by PERC solar cells and storage by Lithium-ion batteries.

In addition to the Grand Prize, three Special Prizes, each valued at US$500,000, have been awarded to innovators with outstanding achievements in emerging fields, female innovators, and innovators from developing countries.

The 2023 VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators with Outstanding Achievements in Emerging Fields is awarded to Prof. Daniel Joshua Drucker (Canada), Prof. Joel Francis Habener (United States), Prof. Jens Juul Holst (Denmark), and Assoc. Prof. Svetlana Mojsov (United States) for the “discovery of the role of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), paving the way for widely used treatments for diabetes and obesity and stimulating emerging applications for neurodegenerative diseases”.

The 2023 VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators with Outstanding Achievements in Emerging Fields is awarded to Prof. Daniel Joshua Drucker (Canada), Prof. Joel Francis Habener (United States), Prof. Jens Juul Holst (Denmark), and Assoc. Prof. Svetlana Mojsov (United States)

Their work lays the foundation for the treatment of many diseases, including type-2 diabetes, obesity, and short bowel syndrome, positively impacting more than 400 million people with type-2 diabetes, more than 1 billion people with obesity, and more than 3 million people with short bowel syndrome. In 2023, more than 20 million doses of GLP-1 drugs have been used in the world, with an impressive 6.7% increase in adoption.

In addition, the discovery of the peptide’s acting mechanism has promoted research and development of novel treatments for cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are among the leading causes of death globally.

The 2023 VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators from Developing Countries has honored Indian American Prof. Gurdev Singh Khush and Vietnamese Prof. Vo Tong Xuan for their significant contributions to the invention and advancement of disease-resistant rice varieties, ensuring global food security.

2023 VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators from Developing Countries has honored Indian American Prof. Gurdev Singh Khush and Vietnamese Prof. Vo Tong Xuan

Professor Khush pioneered the development of rice cultivars with pest resistance, short growth periods, and high yields, such as IR36 and IR64. Among them, IR64 and its descendants have been widely grown in many countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India, while IR36 is popular in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, which is regularly plagued by pests.

Thanks to the significant efforts of Prof. Vo Tong Xuan, IR36 and IR64 rice varieties are currently the most common in tropical Asia, helping to cut production costs, enhance yield, restrict pesticide use, and promote global agricultural sustainability.

The 2023 VinFuture Special Prize for Female Innovators has honored Prof. Susan Solomon (United States) for the discovery of the ozone depletion mechanism in Antarctica, contributing to the establishment of the Montreal Protocol.

The 2023 VinFuture Special Prize for Female Innovators has honored Prof. Susan Solomon (United States)

Prof. Solomon gathered credible information about the unusually large hole in the ozone layer caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in Antarctica, laying the groundwork for proposing and bringing the Montreal Protocol to fruition. This is one of the most successful international accords in tackling global environmental concerns, contributing to a global agreement to phase out ozone-depleting compounds like CFCs.

According to released data from 2016, the ozone hole has been reduced by more than 4 million square kilometers since its peak in 2000 and will entirely regenerate in the coming decades. The Montreal Protocol has made a substantial contribution to the protection of the global climate system and is expected to prevent an additional 100-200 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2050, potentially reducing the global temperature increase from 2-5°C to 0.5°C by 2100.

Commenting on the results of the 2023 VinFuture Prize, Professor Sir Richard Friend, VinFuture Prize Council Chair, stated, “We are very excited to have announced our new VinFuture Prize winners. They have all made huge advances in science and innovation, and these have had a real global impact.

The Grand Prize recognizes the pioneers in two of the critical technologies we need to achieve zero-carbon energy that is critical if we are to control global warming. The breadth of scope to bring science and innovation to benefit society is huge, as reflected by this year’s three Special Prizes. The vision that the Founders set – to celebrate the potential for discovery and innovation to bring real benefits to societies across the whole globe – is very clearly delivered in the set of this year’s prize winners.”

The spirit of “Boundless Unity” for the benefit of humanity unites the four award-winning projects in a meaningful way. When individual scientific accomplishments synergize, they help to establish a sustainable foundation for humanity. The VinFuture Prize differs from other prestigious international awards in that it recognizes the cross-border collaboration of global scientists.

With the success of the third award season, the VinFuture Prize upholds its reputation among the international scientific community owing to the comprehensiveness, diversity, and fairness of the judging process. The VinFuture Foundation is proud to continue its mission of “Science for Humanity” and inspiring innovation in Vietnamese science and technology, contributing to a prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for all people worldwide.

About the VinFuture Prize

The VinFuture Prize is the core activity of the VinFuture Foundation, a non-profit organization established on International Human Solidarity Day on December 20th, 2020, co-founded by billionaire Mr. Pham Nhat Vuong and his wife, Mrs. Pham Thu Huong. The VinFuture Prize aims to recognize transformative scientific and technological innovations capable of making significant positive changes in the lives of millions of people worldwide.

2024 VinFuture Prize Official Call for Nominations

The fourth award season of the VinFuture Prize has now begun, following the 2023 VinFuture Prize’s conclusion. An official call for nominations will be launched from 2:00 p.m. on January 9, 2024, to 2:00 p.m. on April 17, 2023, Hanoi time (GMT+7).

The award honors advances in science and technology that are aligned with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, improving health and quality of life, creating opportunities for progressive education, clean water, renewable energy, reducing inequality, and responding to climate change.

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