Alterno, Forte Biotech and AirX Carbon Win VND 15 billion in Grant Funding from Net Zero Challenge 2023 to Build their Climate Innovations at Scale

Published Fri, Dec 8th 2023 11:00 AM GMT+0

Touchstone Partners and Temasek Foundation have unveiled the winners of the inaugural Net Zero Challenge 2023, Vietnam’s leading platform to support early-stage climate innovations with the potential to solve environmental challenges at scale. Three winners have emerged after an extensive round of pitching to a panel of industry experts and practitioners at the Grand Finale today.

The Net Zero Challenge 2023 winners are as follows:

Winner of the Renewables and Carbon Removal track - Alterno, producing low-cost thermal energy storage using sand-based battery
3. Alterno (Giải thưởng 1).jpg

Winner of Food Systems & Sustainable Agriculture track - Forte Biotech, producing onsite RAPID diagnostic tests for early detection of prawn diseases
4. Forte Biotech (Giải Thưởng 2).jpg

Winner of Circular Economy & Waste Management track - AirX Carbon, producing cost comparable fossil-based plastic replacement from biowaste
5. AirX Carbon (Giải thưởng 3).jpg

These three winners will receive a total of VND 15 billion (USD 630,000) in grant funding from the Net Zero Challenge, which will be used to pilot their climate innovation in Vietnam. Two additional investment prizes of USD 50,000, each from Touchstone Partners and East Ventures, have been awarded to AirX Carbon and Alterno. All nine finalist teams are also eligible to receive up to a total of USD 90,000 in cloud credits from Amazon Web Services.

Mr. Phan Van Mai, the Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City’s People Committee was also present at the award ceremony to congratulate the winning teams and the success of Net Zero Challenge 2023.

"This marks the inaugural year of the Net Zero Challenge in Vietnam, and we are truly overwhelmed and impressed by the quality of the innovations and solutions received. As we approach the end of this program, we recognize the need to continue addressing the impact of climate change. Our aim is to set the foundation for a platform and community of sustainable business practices in Vietnam and in the region. Touchstone Partners will remain committed to supporting climate innovators and initiatives in Vietnam," shared Tu Ngo, General Partner at Touchstone Partners.

Co-organised by Temasek Foundation, Mr Lim Hock Chuan, Head of Programmes at Temasek Foundation, was heartened by the solutions presented by the three winners, each offering promising approaches to address climate issues of Vietnam. He said, “The planet has problems that all of us can help to solve. We are delighted to support the winners to pilot their innovations in Vietnam, seize green opportunities and provide sustainability solutions at scale. We hope to further strengthen our long-term and productive collaborations with the government, businesses, and innovators, so as to benefit our People and Planet.”

Since its launch on 21 August this year, the Net Zero Challenge has received over 300 applications from 45 countries within a seven-week period. Over 30% of the application pool were from teams outside of Vietnam. These applications range across three tracks: (i) Renewables & Carbon Removal; (ii) Food Systems & Sustainable Agriculture; and (iii) Circular Economy & Waste Management.

Nine finalists were shortlisted and underwent three weeks of mentoring sessions, communications coaching, and collaboration with potential local pilot partners. Touchstone Partners, the event’s co-organizer, provided localized mentorship and supported in facilitating strategic partnerships in Vietnam. Beside the co-organizers, the judging panel and shortlisting panel also included local corporates supporting sustainability goals as well as regional venture capital funds.

Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Development Studies (HIDS) is one of Net Zero Challenge’s strategic partners. HIDS will support the three grand prize winners in the pilot implementation and scaling process.