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March 19th, 2007
Prizes for innovation not a new concept, but still effective
Many Americans believe the only conceivable way for this country to develop viable independent energy sources is through government intervention — alternative-fuel mandates, fuel efficiency mandates, public transportation construction.
But we would prefer to look to the creativity of the free market. What better way to unlock that creativity than to make a competition of it, and that's just what the X Prize Foundation is doing.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based foundation has introduced a contest centered on automotive fuel efficiency, offering a $25 million prize to anyone who can produce a commercially viable car that can get 100 miles per gallon.
As early as 1714, the British Parliament put out the call for a way to accurately calculate longitude, and proposals poured in. In 1919, Raymond Orteig offered $25,000 to the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane, leading to Charles Lindbergh's flight and worldwide fame and fortune. The Foresight Institute last year awarded $250,000 to two California Institute of Technology researchers, the first scientists to design and build two particular nanotechnology devices.
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