Fulbright University Vietnam and Nước Solutions won Grand Challenges from Gates Foundation


Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamFulbright University Vietnam and Nước Solutions have been announced as winners of a Grand Challenges grant – an initiative to foster innovation and solve pressing global health and development problems funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Fulbright University Vietnam and Nước Solutions will pursue an innovative global health and development research project focusing on Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use, titled NướcGPT: Decoding Mekong Delta Salinity.

When harnessed equitably and responsibly, AI has incredible potentials to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges and reduce global inequity. Supporting AI research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will help ensure that AI technology is tailored to local health, education, agriculture, and other contexts and designed with the needs of the world’s most vulnerable at the center.

Logos of Fulbright University Vietnam and Nuoc Foundation won Grand Challenges funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Fulbright University Vietnam and Nước Solutions won the Grand Challenges grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in August 2023

GPT to assist in water management

A group of AI and environmental experts from Fulbright University Vietnam and Nước Solutions from the Silicon Valley will create a chatbot, “NướcGPT” (Nước means water in Vietnamese), that combines cutting-edge AI tools with a user-friendly interface in the local language to support the management of salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta. This region, home to 21.5 million Vietnamese, is suffering from increased saltwater intrusion caused by multiple factors including climate change. Our experts will fine-tune GPT3.5 and GPT4 using data in English and Vietnamese collected from diverse sources including published data, local reports, peer-reviewed literature, field studies of water-related problems, and emerging technologies related to salinity intrusion. This will bridge the gap between complex scientific knowledge and practical decision-making, empowering users to make informed choices. We will also build a website to host the chatbot and field test it with selected stakeholders, including local officials, farmers, and business owners to evaluate its usability, accuracy, and ability to support decision-making processes.

This solution will provide valuable assistance in Vietnamese to different target users, including (i) policymakers in developing short and long-term mitigation strategies, and (ii) local communities, authorities, and business owners in seasonal preparation and planning to optimize land and water utilization effectively.

Fulbright University Vietnam and Nước Solutions recognized by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The project is one of nearly 50 Grand Challenges Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use grants announced by the Gates Foundation to support LMICs in harnessing AI’s power for good and to solve the urgent need for LMIC participation in the co-creation process of this technology as it rapidly evolves. To receive funding, Fulbright University Vietnam and Nước Solutions and other Grand Challenges winners submitted their concepts which outlined their bold idea in response to the request for proposals. More than 1,300 proposals were submitted from around the world.

Grand Challenges stem from the idea from over a century ago that crowdsourcing a defined set of unsolved problems can spark innovation and accelerate progress. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its Grand Challenges funding partners use Challenges – launched in 2003 as open requests for grant proposals – to focus attention and effort on solving pressing global health and development problems for those most in need. Together they have awarded over 3600 grants engaging a diverse pool of problem solvers in over 100 countries and fostering a global innovation ecosystem where it will have the most impact. The foundation and its Grand Challenges partners will continue to launch RFPs to support innovators from around the world in tackling the hardest, most urgent, Grand Challenges. To learn more, visit

About the winners of Grand Challenges

Fulbright University Vietnam is Vietnam’s first independent, not-for-profit, liberal arts university. We are an expanding international team of educational innovators, with deep roots in Vietnam, strong political and financial backing, and connections to educational institutions around the world. We believe in the power of collaboration, transdisciplinary thinking, and risk-taking, and we understand that effective education requires putting students at its center. Globally integrated but deeply embedded in Vietnamese society, Fulbright is dedicated to providing a world-class education, utilizing the latest advancements in institutional design, teaching, learning, technology and other fields to create an institution that is both innovative and globally relevant. Importantly, Fulbright is committed to serving Vietnamese society through rigorous research and responsible civic engagement.

Nước.Solutions is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization born in the heart of Silicon Valley, aims to create and foster innovative, sustainable, and efficient solutions to pressing water problems in Vietnam (“Nước” means water in Vietnamese), by leveraging collaborations, startup incubation, knowledge exchange and cutting-edge technologies.

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