Daily Archives: September 29, 2010

Innovation prizes can lead to paradigm shifts

The headline for this story on NPR’s web site is: “To Spur Innovation, Offer Millions In Cash Prizes.” And the lead-in explains that:

Just as Charles Lindbergh was tempted to fly nonstop to Paris in hopes of winning a $25,000 prize, the U.S. government is offering millions of dollars in prize money to lure innovators into building better lightbulbs, cheaper satellite-launching spacecraft and more fuel-efficient cars.

You can listen to, or read the discussion with Tom Kalil (Deputy Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) and Oliver Kuttner (winner, Automotive X-Prize and creator, The Very Light Car) at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129934808&ft=1&f=5

The X Prize Foundation http://www.xprize.org provides this overview of their mission:

An X PRIZE is a $10 million+ award given to the first team to achieve a specific goal, set by the X PRIZE Foundation, which has the potential to benefit humanity. Rather than awarding money to honor past achievements or directly funding research, an X PRIZE incites innovation by tapping into our competitive and entrepreneurial spirits.

There are many types of competitions and awards around the world, but an X PRIZE is in a class by itself. What sets us apart from other non-profit organizations is our ability to frame a challenge and incentivize a solution in a way that our efforts and funds are multiplied exponentially by the teams who strive to compete and win the prize.

A study of the history of “prize money for innovation” suggests that in many cases it does actually pay off.  The question is: would such an approach be worth considering within the context of agricultural research and development?  Might individual researchers and scientists, or teams, respond to the kinds of challenges presented by the X Prize Foundation?  Check out an interesting new challenge – the Archon Genomics X PRIZE.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

(After reading this post I have started collecting some materials on open-innovation that I will blog separately.  There is a whole tangle of IP issues involved!  I’ll pingback to this item as reference. – Kay)