As our world grapples with the tangible impacts of climate change—manifesting in floods, extreme temperatures, droughts, and wildfires—it becomes increasingly clear that human actions significantly contribute to these challenges. The urgency to address these environmental issues is paramount. Everyone plays a crucial part in creating a greener future. Let’s step up, think creatively, and find innovative solutions to climate change.
As a demonstration of that, Touchstone Partners and Temasek Foundation have joined forces to launch Net Zero Challenge, a climate innovations competition in Vietnam. This initiative offers a platform for climate innovators to exhibit their sustainable solutions, addressing ecological challenges and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
On Friday, Vietnamear’s Net Zero Challenge identified this year’s winners with groundbreaking climate innovations — early-stage projects poised to address environmental challenges at scale.
The winners are as follows:
Renewables and Carbon Removal Track: Alterno
Alterno specializes in low-cost thermal energy storage using a sand-based battery. This innovative approach utilizes sand or sand-like materials to store energy as heat, specifically for excess wind and solar energy. The stored energy can be dispensed throughout the year.
Food Systems & Sustainable Agriculture Track: Forte Biotech
Forte Biotech focuses on onsite RAPID diagnostic tests for the early detection of prawn diseases.
Circular Economy & Waste Management Track: AirX Carbon
AirX Carbon is dedicated to producing a cost-comparable fossil-based plastic replacement from biowaste.
In case you’re wondering why Alterno sounds familiar, they recently won first runner-up at Vietnam Innovators Summit’s Green Horizon 2023. At the summit, they unveiled a novel energy storage mechanism in Vietnam: the sand battery.
These winning teams will collectively receive VND 15 billion ($630,000) in grant funding from the Net Zero Challenge to pilot their climate innovations in Vietnam. Additionally, AirX Carbon and Alterno have secured investment prizes of USD 50,000 each from Touchstone Partners and East Ventures. All nine finalist teams are also eligible for up to $90,000 in cloud credits from Amazon Web Services.
The award ceremony, attended by Phan Van Mai, the Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City’s People Committee, marked the success of Net Zero Challenge 2023 in its inaugural year. Tu Ngo, General Partner at Touchstone Partners, emphasized the organization’s commitment to supporting climate innovators and initiatives in Vietnam.
“Our aim is to set the foundation for a platform and community of sustainable business practices in Vietnam and the region,” Tu said in a prepared statement. “Touchstone Partners will remain committed to supporting climate innovators and initiatives in Vietnam.”
Net Zero Challenge, co-organized by Temasek Foundation, attracted over 300 applications from 45 countries within seven weeks of its launch on August 21. Notably, over 30% of the applications came from teams outside Vietnam.
The nine finalists underwent three weeks of mentoring sessions, communications coaching, and collaboration with potential local pilot partners. As co-organizers, Touchstone Partners and Temasek Foundation provided localized mentorship and facilitated strategic partnerships in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Development Studies (HIDS), a strategic partner, will support the three grand prize winners in the pilot implementation and scaling process.
Lim Hock Chuan, Head of Programmes at Temasek Foundation, highlighted the importance of supporting innovations that address climate issues in Vietnam. He emphasized the foundation’s commitment to collaborating with the government, businesses, and innovators to benefit people and the planet.
“We are delighted to support the winners to pilot their innovations in Vietnam, seize green opportunities, and provide sustainability solutions at scale,” he said.
The success of the Net Zero Challenge’s inaugural year underscores the quality of innovations received and the ongoing need to address the impacts of climate change.
Touchstone Partners and Temasek Foundation, through the Net Zero Challenge, are at the forefront of driving climate innovation in Vietnam. Net Zero Challenge 2023 is a platform for climate innovators to showcase sustainable solutions. Touchstone Partners is a leading early-stage VC investor in Vietnam, and Temasek Foundation supports diverse programs uplifting lives and communities in Singapore and beyond.