Keep your eyes on the prize

About four years ago, the X Prize Foundation gave a $10 million award to a team of engineers for building the first private, commercial space craft. Today, the foundation has several other contests going, including prizes for gene sequencing, automotive engineering, and lunar landing. Additional prizes are planned for cancer and longevity research.

Many “big science” research efforts are conducted by government agencies or large companies, both of which try to hold costs down by finding the single best approach. The advantage of prize competitions is that they get dozens of creative teams working on a single problems, trying many different approaches at once, without the restrictions of government or corporate bureaucracy.

The idea is starting to catch on. Last year the US government approved the H-prize for developments in hydrogen-based energy. And Sen John McCain
has proposed a $300 million prize for breakthroughs in battery technology.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options