【Newsletter】LUI Prize pushes through adversity, looks forward to 2021 award

    6 Jan 2021

    As 2020 draws to a close, the LUI Che Woo Prize’s main goal for the year ahead will be to resume the presentation of the award to recognise the people and organisations, which have been working to change the world for the better.

    It’s been a challenging year for everyone. The Covid-19 pandemic reached into every aspect of our lives in every corner of the globe, forcing changes in the way we do business, educate our children and interact with friends and family.

    It has also highlighted how through teamwork and a positive mental attitude even the most daunting of challenges can be tackled. The LUI Prize team had to take the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 prize due to the difficulties created by the pandemic.

    However, as Yvonne Lai, LUI Prize General Manager explains, the organisation has been able to adapt and continue its work, with all team members pulling together.

    Celebrating team spirit

     “ This positivity is something we have created in the team as a culture and I’m really proud of it.”

    LUI Che Woo Prize General Manager Yvonne Lai

    Lai said one of the key strengths has been the positivity of the LUI Prize team.

    “They have a very strong can do spirit and I’m very blessed with them. When there is a challenge they are the first to come forward and say ok…so how do we do it. This positivity is something we have created in the team as a culture and I’m really proud of it.”

    Lai outlined how the team tackled the once-in-a-century challenge posed by Covid-19.

    At first, she says it was difficult to assess how bad the situation was going to be, but Hong Kong has lived through Severe Acquired Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and other viruses, such as H1N1 and had a high degree of preparedness of facing serious problems.

    The Prize was set to host senior dignitaries, such as Dr Rowan Douglas Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury and Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand and 15 panel members comprising internationally renowned scholars and experts, in Hong Kong, as part of an in-person adjudication process scheduled from February to April.

    It soon became clear that it would not be feasible to carry out the process physically, so the prize adjudication and relevant activities are postponed to 2021. Subsequently, the team had to adjust and find new ways to engage with all its stakeholders and ensure it was still able to promote the spirit of the prize.

    International conferences provide opportunities for positive engagement

    One major test of this new normal was the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network’s annual conference. Now in its eighth year, the event that was to have been held in Singapore in June, finally went virtual.

    It was the first time the LUI Prize, with the participation of LUI Prize Governor Dr Moses Cheng, had spoken at the event and a key opportunity to raise awareness about its goals with an international audience.

    “Surprisingly it attracted quite a lot of people, about 600, and we did get some enquiries about how to nominate and how to win,” she said. “That surprised me as at a conference you only really get to reach 100 max and this virtual conference reached a lot more. ” The Prize also took part in a number of international conferences as planned though quite a lot of them went online due to the pandemic. Lai wishes to strengthen the Prize’s global network through such participation in the long run.

    The LUI Prize has also been working on optimising the nomination process and becoming more proactive in its communications and Lai said this has had a positive effect in communicating the spirit of the Prize.

    Building a better world for all

    “Nominators have to know what the prize stands for and what we can do. We are trying to engage them. Dr Lui Che-woo wants to build a virtuous and harmonious world and hope more like-minded people will work towards this noble cause, this is the message we are trying to get across.”

    For 2021, judging will be done virtually. As before, the team expects to carry out thorough research into nominees and their work to ensure the adjudication panels will get comprehensive background information of the nominees, such as their achievements in their own fields and contributions to the betterment of the world.

    The line up for this year will include the nominees put forward up to the extended deadline of October last year. Lai said there have been a good number of names thrown into the hat, roughly double that of 2019.

    Institute creates forum for nurturing ideals

     “ We are putting their talents together and their networks to brainstorm ideas for positive change. We are hoping we can seed that into the community and nurture that noble cause in our own community as well.

    LUI Che Woo Prize General Manager Yvonne Lai

    While the pandemic has been raging, the LUI Prize has also been forging ahead with its ambition to create an institute as a forum for people to come together and share ideas on how to achieve the prize’s goals.

    “It’s a situation where two is definitely better than one. We are putting their talents together and their networks to brainstorm ideas for positive change. We are hoping we can seed that into the community and nurture that noble cause in our own community as well.”

    The institute will have a dual purpose of helping to foster collaboration by pooling resources and by helping to institutionalise the Prize to ensure its work continues through the generations.

    Although the first vaccines are now being rolled out, the high levels of infection rates in Europe and the U.S. and new outbreaks in some Asian countries are likely to mean that mobility remains low well into the New Year.

    Digital strategies help communicate key aims

    Therefore, in the short term at least, Lai expects some of the digital strategies and communications that have been put into place will continue to play a key role in helping to spread the LUI Prize message.

    It will continue to reward those whose perseverance, collaboration and a positive mental attitude have helped improve lives and the planet we live in.

    Once the pandemic subsides, Lai said she looks forward to resuming educational events and to be able to invite former laureates, such as Dr Jennifer A. Doudna and Fan Jin-shi to Hong Kong.

    In the meantime, like many institutions the LUI Prize will be better prepared to face new challenges given the changes in strategy implemented throughout the year.

    【Newsletter】LUI Che Woo Prize says there’s reason to be positive for 2021