“VinFuture honored the researchers behind global network technology not only because of what this amazing invention has given humanity in the present, but also because of the enormous potential that it has in changing the future of the post-pandemic world,” explained Professor Sir Richard Henry Friend, Chair of the VinFuture Prize Council on why global network technology was selected for the VinFuture Grand Prize in season two.

The peak of global network technology still lies ahead

The VinFuture Grand Prize 2022 honored global network technology– a combination of inventions that have been applied in our lives for many years. Was it the case that the Prize Council did not receive any truly exceptional new nominations?

It’s actually the complete opposite. We not only received an impressive number of nominations in the second season of VinFuture, but the quality of the nominations this year was also outstanding. The councils had to put in a lot of hard work to find the most deserving work for the award.

The criteria of VinFuture is to honor breakthrough research and innovations that have already created, or have the potential to create, meaningful change in the lives of millions of people, and the project that won the Grand Prize this year matches this perfectly. The technology can even be said to have “dual effects” on humanity, not only impacting society in the past but also in the future.

What, exactly, are these effects on humanity?

Nowadays, young people can’t imagine life without global network technology. But what we find so miraculous and incredible about global network technology is just the tip of the iceberg. Our understanding of it is still very modest, so it’s not too surprising that many were taken aback when they heard about this prize.

The world is currently witnessing the astounding development of a plethora of new technologies such as: Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, 5G/6G, and others. Many of these were still considered to be impossible only a couple of years ago. Yet all of these technological advancements wouldn’t have been realized without global network technology.

Global network technology has changed the world and billions of people on Earth are benefiting from it. In particular, the significance of global network technology increased exponentially during the pandemic, with 50% of all data since this invention was launched being shared during these two years. However, this technology’s breakthrough impacts and peak of development are still ahead. We are experiencing the “dawn” of global network technology now, and its history is still only beginning.

The VinFuture Prize theme for this year is “Reviving and Reshaping”. What is the connection between global network technology and this year’s theme?

COVID-19 is one of the biggest crises that humanity has had to face in the past several decades. In 2020 alone, the world economy dropped by 4.3% – a number that has only been recorded during the Great Depression in the 1930s and during the two world wars.

But the amazing thing is how quickly the world recovered after the pandemic was contained. This is because despite two years of quarantines and self-isolation across the world, global connections were still maintained through global network technology. People were still able to work, learn, communicate, and transact with each other, just in a completely different way.

If COVID-19 had happened 20 years ago, things would have been completely different. The damages back then would have been much more severe, and it would have taken humanity decades to bounce back. Therefore, it is clearly evident that global network technology was the foundation that strengthened the world in the face of the pandemic, and helped boost more rapid and robust recovery after COVID-19.

Is global network technology “redrawing” the post-pandemic world?

That’s right! After the pandemic, global network technology is reshaping the world in a more sustainable way. For example, in the UK, even though life has returned to normal, the number of transports has lessened significantly. This is because most people have become accustomed to working from home. In the past two years, global network technology has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, work, and move, reducing energy consumption and waste and improving the environment.

Searching for breakthrough inventions through different lenses

In the process of evaluating the nominations, what were the VinFuture Prize Council members’ opinions on this prize?

At first we had different opinions and had a lot of discussions on it. However, fortunately the members of the VinFuture

Prize Council are the world’s leading scientists in various fields. This helped us have a multi-faceted view and a comprehensive assessment of each nomination. Finally, the Prize Council reached a strong agreement on awarding the Grand Prize to global network technology.

Researchers awarded the VinFuture Prize have also won many other international prizes, and have even been honored many years ago. Does this make VinFuture an award that celebrates great inventions rather than promote new innovations?

I don’t think so. VinFuture just finished its second season, but the number of nominations that we received far exceeds other historic awards. The quality of the nominations was also of very high quality.

In the first season, the winning invention, mRNA vaccines, came about from two different research projects on mRNA technology and lipid nanoparticles. This year, global technology network, which received the highest prize, is a result of many separate inventions, including: the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, the World Wide Web, and Erbium-doped fiber amplifiers.

VinFuture evaluates projects comprehensively, paying attention to multi-faceted relationships. Many individual research projects can never reach their goals or be applied in real life, but when combined, they create great breakthroughs.
This different lens helps VinFuture find scientific works that can bring benefits to millions of people in the world. This makes VinFuture unique compared to all other prizes.

Thank you Professor Sir Richard Henry Friend!