A look at the X Prize and Incentivized Prize Competitions written by: hmbuguah2014 Incentivized prize competitions are a great way to encourage progress in any area of interest. Prizes have always spurred people to achieve greats feats and are one of the important ways of solving great problems. From Homer’s Iliad, Archimedes bathtub discovery and the British Longitude Prize, incentivized competitions are a great way to solve great challenges that face people at any given time. Incentivized prize competitions have been used over the years to make great advances in aviation, medicine, maritime, chemical industries and breakthroughs in aerodynamics and engine design to name but a few.

Over time, incentivized prize competitions fell into obscurity. Governments interests shifted to security and being the largest incentivized benefactors, the became fewer and less grand in every aspect. A different approach to incentivized prize competitions was taken by Peter Diamandis in 1995 when he officially proposed the X Prize competition the NSS International Space Development Conference. The competition was to stimulate research and development in low-cost space flight. Participants were to build a space shuttle able to fly people to the edge of space.

The success of the strategy in today’s world can be easily recognized when one looks at the achievements of Diamandis’ brainchild. The initial competition led to the rapid technological advances in commercial spaceflight and creation of companies in the field like Virgin Galactic. By the time the $10 million prize was won in 2004, ten times the amount had been invested in research and development in the field of spaceflight. The X Prize is an incentivized prized competition that is highly leveraged to solve grand challenges that are facing the planet. Some of the fields that are now targeted by the prize in addition to exploration are Energy & Environment, Life Sciences, Global Development and Learning.

By bringing in the private sector in addition to government funding, incentivized prize competitions can lead to greater progress in various fields. Since the competitions are well-suited for stimulating innovation and research in stagnated industries and fields, corporations in different industries can leverage them to increase innovations and advances in their fields of interest.

The success of the initial X (ten) Prize competition, itself modeled on previous prize competitions, has given rise to many competitions modeled after it. The competition has inspired offshoots such as the Automotive X Prize, the Archon X Prize and, perhaps the most famous, the Google Lunar X Prize. Others include the M Project (the Methuselah Mouse Project aimed at life extension) and the H Project (Hydrogen Vehicle Project).

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