Alterno, Forte Biotech and AirX Carbon have won VND 15 billion ($630,000) in grant funding from Net Zero Challenge 2023 to build their climate innovations at scale.

Organizers Touchstone Partners and Temasek Foundation said in a statement on Friday that the three winners have emerged after an extensive round of pitching to a panel of industry experts and practitioners at the grand finale on Friday.

Alterno, who is producing low-cost thermal energy storage using sand-based battery, is the winner of the renewables and carbon removal track.

Forte Biotech, who is producing onsite RAPID diagnostic tests for early detection of prawn diseases, is the winner of food systems and sustainable agriculture track.

AirX Carbon, who is producing cost comparable fossil-based plastic replacement from biowaste, is the winner of circular economy and waste management track.

According to the statement, these three winners will receive a total of VND 15 billion ($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 $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 $90,000 in cloud credits from Amazon Web Services.

“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,” said Tu Ngo, General Partner at Touchstone Partners.

“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,” she said.

She also said Touchstone Partners will remain committed to supporting climate innovators and initiatives in Vietnam.

Lim Hock Chuan, Head of Programmes at Temasek Foundation, said the planet has problems that all of them 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,” he added.

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 percent of the application pool were from teams outside of Vietnam.

These applications range across three tracks: renewables and carbon removal; food systems and sustainable agriculture; and circular economy and waste management.

According to the statement, 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.

Touchstone Partners is an early-stage venture capital investor in Vietnam that invests in startups developing impactful solutions for the people and environment in the country.

Since 2021, the firm has been the pioneering investor in deep tech and climate innovations in Vietnam, with notable investments including Selex Motors, Stride, and Forte Biotech.

Founded and led by Khanh Tran and Tu Ngo, Touchstone Partners has received commitments from notable investors including Pavilion Capital, Cercano Management and several other institutional investors and family offices.

Temasek Foundation is a unit under Singapore state-owned fund Temasek to support a diverse range of programs that uplift lives and communities in Singapore and beyond.

Its programs aim to strengthen social resilience, foster international exchange and regional capabilities, advance science, and protect the planet.

Vietnam’s FEBE Ventures unveils $75M second fund