The federal government and various private groups have begun offering prize money for significant new innovations.  Some of these have already achieved success and many are still waiting for a winner.  The hope is more startups and established businesses might be inspired to pursue these scientific or technological breakthroughs.

Want to take a shot at the prizes?  Here are several past and present offers:

From People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the PETA Prize—Come up with an in vitro way to grow chicken meat, without killing chickens or the taste.  Prize: $1 million.

From NASA, CAFÉ Foundation, and Google, the Green Flight Challenge—All you must do is build an aircraft that will average 200 miles per gallon per passenger.  Prize: $1.35 million.  (Not accepting new entries; award granted in 2011.)

From NASA and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Sample Return Robot Challenge—Design and build a robot capable of retrieving geological samples in rough terrain.  Prize: $1.5 million.

From the Department of Defense, the DARPA Urban Challenge—Build and use a fully automatic driving vehicle in a race.  Prize: $2 million.  (Not accepting new entries; award granted in 2007.)

From the Methuselah Foundation, the New Organ Prize—You have until 2020 to develop a regenerative medicine process that will grow a new organ, and then transplant that organ into a patient where it will function successfully for at least two years.  Prize: $10 million.

From Al Gore and Richard Branson, the Virgin Earth Challenge—Build an eco-friendly system that removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and operates correctly for at least 10 years.  Prize: $25 million.

Many different motivations exist for people and companies pursuing challenges.  Perhaps some of these fat carrots will bring even fatter results.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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