Google and the X Prize Foundation are expected to announce 10 major prizes to spur innovation in the social sector. The big event is on March 3rd at Google. The story from PRI's Marketplace program heralds the return of "prize philanthropy." Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of The X Prize Foundation, notes that
"A grant may return you 50 cents on the dollar, while a prize will get you a tenfold return on your investment. And you don't have to pay out till the problem is solved."Hmmmm. There may be some problems with that math when it comes to feeding the hungry. Prizes are great - they do send the message that the question is "when" a solution will be found, not "if." But only those who can afford the upfront costs of participation can, in fact, participate. The prize structure effectively eliminates the poor from proposing solutions to their own problems. How about a prize to solve the prize problem?
I'm looking for the complete list of new "prize philanthropy" examples. Here are some, please send others. We'll build it ourselves, if we must.
DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Google and the X Prize
Methuselah Foundation and M Prize