Home > Events > Mr. Neil SHEN delivers a speech at the WLA Prize Launch Ceremony

Mr. Neil SHEN delivers a speech at the WLA Prize Launch Ceremony

Date Nov. 1, 2021

Neil Shen
Steward of Sequoia Capital Founding and Managing Partner of Sequoia China


Dear leaders, scientists and friends:

Good morning!

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the World Laureates Forum (WLF). As a global strategic partner in support of the World Laureates Association (WLA), we are honored that this grand annual event has developed so considerably over the past three years. The Forum has become a cross-border, interdisciplinary, and cross-field international scientific and technological exchange platform for the world's top scientists to exchange with and learn from each other, becoming a new and eye-catching name on the business card of Shanghai.

Interdisciplinary exchanges and international cooperation are becoming increasingly essential to scientific development, especially in an era when humanity faces the COVID-19 epidemic and other challenges that scientists worldwide must work together to address. Thus, we must cherish the unique value of the WLA more deeply than ever.

As you have just heard, Sequoia China, as the only donor, will be supporting the establishment of a permanent "WLA Prize",for scientists worldwide. These prizes will be the "WLA Prize in Mathematics and Intelligent Sciences" and the "WLA Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine".

Perhaps you are wondering why a venture capital institution is willing to make public donations for a science award. The truth is that Sequoia did not make a spur-of-the-moment decision but rather acted out of interest and a sense of responsibility.

Sequoia has long shown a unique interest in science. There has been an unwritten consensus in our corporate culture that "Sequoia is a big fan of science". Believing in scientific and technological innovation and scientific spirit has been essential for helping many high-tech enterprises "grow from seeds to towering trees" in the past ten years. This ideology will continue to guide us to support innovative forces in future frontier fields such as artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences.

Taking a glimpse at the history of the global development of science and technology, we have even more reason and determination to devote ourselves to this cause. In the past 30 years, especially since the turn of the century, the global development of science and technology has gained revolutionary and far-reaching influence. Unprecedented breakthroughs and innovations have risen in the fields of artificial intelligence, life sciences, and interstellar travel. Human beings are closer to discovering the world's natural laws and ultimate laws than ever before, and science is developing by leaps and bounds.

Conversely, however, human beings are facing pressing issues and urgently need science to provide resolutions. Such concerns include the global public health challenge brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic, the scientific and technological solution of the double carbon goals, the climate and environmental crisis caused by global warming, and so on. Therefore, faced with unprecedented opportunities and challenges, we should contemplate science and the future of humankind. Sequoia China has the responsibility and obligation to continue supporting cutting-edge science and technology and basic science as well as encourage others to do the "difficult yet right" things in the scientific field.

These considerations led Sequoia China to support the WLA Prize as a permanent "public welfare investment" in human science and technology. Over the past 16 years, the development of Sequoia China has benefited from the industrial opportunities brought about by the progress of basic scientific research, which is why we have listed "promoting scientific and technological innovation" as one of Sequoia China’s most critical missions. We believe that the award can benefit China and the world. We are convinced that future technological breakthroughs require the joint efforts of the industrial, education, and research sectors.

This is why we place high hopes on the WLA Prize. This is a global award with Shanghai as its starting point and China as its base. Therefore, Sequoia China has established a donation fund to guarantee the permanence of the award. Shanghai is committed to building an internationally influential science and technology innovation center, and we believe that such an international top science award, like the Oriental Pearl in the field of science and technology, will become a new symbol of Shanghai's modernization and internationalization.

We have two expectations: first, for it to not only be an award but a direction. We will focus on not only the award but also the future direction of human science and technology. We hope that the award winner will be cutting-edge, fundamental, and authoritative, and become an important direction and a long-term driving force to lead the global development of science and technology. Second, we wish it to be not only a fruit but also a seed. The prize is undoubtedly a reward for past achievements and the fruit of scientists' long-term efforts. At the same time, the award shall cultivate future projects and the foresight of scientists on human science and technology. We hope that the award will screen out the best-quality seeds for significant breakthroughs in the world's leading scientific and technological fields and promote the vigorous development of human science.

Dear friends, in the field of venture capital, Sequoia China's vision is to become the earliest and most crucial empowering business partner of outstanding enterprises in various industries in China. In the field of science and technology, we hope to become the most trusted and longest-lasting public welfare partner of scientists worldwide, learn from their spirit of lifelong dedication, and help more scientific seeds become towering trees that benefit all humanity.

In conclusion, I wish the "WLA Prize" a good start, and I also wish all scientists good health and success at work. Thank you all!