Hong Kong's GRST wins the Earthshot Prize

On Tuesday, the Earthshot Prize announced its 2023 winners at a ceremony in Singapore.

Hong Kong's GRST wins the Earthshot Prize
Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales, takes part in a panel discussion on stage with Earthshot Prize trustee Christiana Figueres (L) and Brandon Ng (C) of Ampd Energy at the Earthshot+ Summit at Parkroyal Pickering in Singapore on November 8, 2023. MOHD RASFAN/Pool via REUTERS

The backstory: In 2020, Prince William and the Royal Foundation launched the Earthshot Prize, a global project aimed at funding innovative solutions to major environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution by 2030. The award recognizes winners across five categories: nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination and climate change. Previous winners include India’s Takachar and Kenya’s Mukuru Clean Stoves, and finalists include Japan’s Wota Box and China’s Desert Agricultural Transformation.  

More recently: Now, let's talk about GRST, a Hong Kong-based startup founded in 2015 that specializes in lithium battery tech. It’s come up with a cleaner, cheaper way to make and recycle lithium-ion batteries. It reduces metal usage, cuts emissions by up to 40% and extends battery life up to 10%. Plus, the company’s got a game-changing water-based recycling method that could cut emissions by 80%. 

The development: On Tuesday, the Earthshot Prize announced its 2023 winners at a ceremony in Singapore. Key figures, such as Christiana Figueres, the ex-UN climate chief and architect of the Paris Agreement, Chinese magnate Jack Ma and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, were instrumental in choosing the winners. GRST, representing Hong Kong, clinched a remarkable victory in the "Clean Our Air" category and was awarded a £1 million (US$1.2 million) cash prize. This marks a historic moment, as GRST is the first company from Hong Kong or mainland China to receive the award.

Justin Hung, the CEO and co-founder of GRST, stressed the urgency of cleaner batteries for global net-zero emissions by 2050. Looking forward, GRST said it plans to secure a substantial US$50 million for ventures in Europe and North America in the next two years. To reach this goal, it’ll launch a series B fundraising round in the next few months to raise approximately US$25 million and make strategic partnerships. 

Key comments: 

“The world needs a massive amount of batteries to achieve net zero by 2050, but a revolution is needed to make these batteries cleaner and more recyclable,” said Justin Hung, CEO and co-founder of GRST in a statement.

“I choose to believe that future generations will look back on this decade as the point at which we globally took collective action for our planet — the moment we refused to accept the voices of denial and defeatism and instead became the architects of change towards a healthy and sustainable world,” said the UK’s Prince William during the ceremony.

“The last year has been one of great change and even greater challenge,” said Prince William in a statement. “A year in which the effects of the climate crisis have become too visible to be ignored.”