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 PrizeCome 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 ChallengeAll 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 ChallengeDesign and build a robot capable of retrieving geological samples in rough terrain. Prize: $1.5 million.
From the Department of Defense, the DARPA Urban ChallengeBuild 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 PrizeYou 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 ChallengeBuild 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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