The Spirit of Singapore Book Prize and the Earthshot Prize 2023 Finalists Announced

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The inaugural Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize was announced recently, with a cash prize of S$30,000. The prize was made possible by a donation from Mr Chan, who wanted to recognise a work that epitomises and inspires the Spirit of Singapore. The prize will be awarded by a jury which includes academics from the SUSS and Autonomous Universities, distinguished writers and critics, and publishers.

Prof Miksic’s book is the first of its kind in Singapore and lays the foundation for a fundamental reinterpretation of the nation’s history. It also sheds light on lingering questions about where exactly Singapore started and the significance of bits of historical information found in literary records such as the mention of a town called Longyamen (or Dragon Teeth’s Gate).

The 2023 Earthshot Prize Finalists will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in November, following events in London in 2021 and Boston last year. The ceremony will be accompanied by a week-long series of events, dubbed Earthshot Week. It will bring together leaders, businesses and investors from around the globe to explore opportunities to collaborate with winners and finalists to mobilise and scale solutions to protect and repair our planet.

In a competition that started in May, 63 teams submitted their ideas for new concepts to eradicate poverty in Singapore. They were given seed funding to test their ideas over six months, and had access to mentors, potential funders, conversations with policymakers, and coaching sessions. Eight teams were shortlisted, and four are now in the running to win the grand prize of S$500,000.

The winning team, Dreams Asia Breakthrough, is one of these teams. It aims to help poor families get financial support by connecting them with banks through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, and providing them with credit card-sized microchips to store their banking data on their smartphones. If the idea works, it will allow them to open bank accounts and access funds that they would normally be denied. It could even provide them with a more secure way to access their cash in emergencies, or to invest it to start a small business. It is currently in the process of piloting the concept in a few selected areas. The winning team will be able to scale up the project in a few months and potentially roll it out nationwide.