|Exploration, Environment, Equity|
|Method||Revolution through competition|
|Peter Diamandis (Exec. Chairman)|
Robert K. Weiss (Vice Chairman)
Anousheh Ansari (CEO)
XPRIZE is a non-profit organization that designs and hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity. Their board of trustees include James Cameron, Larry Page, Arianna Huffington, and Ratan Tata among others.
The XPRIZE mission is to bring about "radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity" through incentivized competition. It fosters high-profile competitions to motivate individuals, companies and organizations across all disciplines to develop innovative ideas and technologies that help solve the world's grand challenges.
The Ansari X Prize relating to spacecraft development was awarded in 2004, intended to inspire research and development into technology for space exploration.
The first XPRIZE – the Ansari XPRIZE – was inspired by the Orteig Prize, a $25,000 prize offered in 1919 by French hotelier Raymond Orteig for the first nonstop flight between New York City and Paris. In 1927, underdog Charles Lindbergh won the prize in a modified single-engine Ryan aircraft called the Spirit of St. Louis. In total, nine teams spent $400,000 in pursuit of the Orteig Prize.
In 1996, entrepreneur Peter Diamandis offered a $10-million prize to the first privately financed team that could build and fly a three-passenger vehicle 100 kilometers into space twice within two weeks. The contest, later titled the Ansari XPRIZE for Suborbital Spaceflight, motivated 26 teams from seven nations to invest more than $100 million in pursuit of the $10 million purse. On October 4, 2004, the Ansari XPRIZE was won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, who successfully completed the contest in their spacecraft SpaceShipOne. The prize was awarded in a ceremony at the Saint Louis Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. As of 2011, the Science Center maintains numerous exhibits about the XPRIZE.
The foundation has also created the XPRIZE Cup rocket challenge competition.
XPRIZES are monetary rewards to incentivize three primary goals:
Other organizations such as the Nobel Prize committee award prizes and financial rewards to individuals or organizations that produce novel advances in science, medicine and technology. One difference between the XPRIZES and other similar organizations is awarding prizes based on the first to achieve objective 'finish line' requirements rather than a selection committee discussing the relative merits of different endeavors. For instance, the Archon Genomics XPRIZE target was to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days or less, with less than one error per 100,000 DNA base pairs, covering 98% of the genome and costing less than $10,000 per genome (this prize was cancelled because it was outpaced by innovation).
The prize can increase attention to endeavors that otherwise might not receive much publicity. For example, attempts in the recent Lunar Lander competition have been well publicized in the media, increasing visibility of both the foundation and the participants.
With the Ansari XPRIZE, XPRIZE established a model in which offering a prize for achieving a specific goal can stimulate entrepreneurial investment. Since then, new challenges have expanded into a range of other fields. XPRIZE is developing new prizes in Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education and Global Development. Some hope the prizes will help improve lives, create equity of opportunity and stimulate new, important discoveries.
As of January 2018, there are seven completed contests, eight active contests and one contest that has been canceled.
Main article: Ansari X Prize
The Ansari XPRIZE for Suborbital Spaceflight was the first prize from the foundation. It successfully challenged teams to build private spaceships capable of carrying three people and fly two times within two weeks to open the space frontier. The first part of the Ansari XPRIZE requirements was fulfilled by Mike Melvill on September 29, 2004, On SpaceShipOne, a spacecraft designed by Burt Rutan and financed by Paul Allen, co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft. On that ship, Melvill broke the 100-kilometer (62.5 mi) mark, internationally recognized as the boundary of outer space, winning the prize. Brian Binnie completed the second part of the requirements on October 4, 2004. As a result, US$10 million was awarded to the winner, but more than $100 million was invested in new technologies in pursuit of the prize. Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and others are reputed to be creating a personal spaceflight industry.
Awarding this first prize gave XPRIZE as much publicity as the winners themselves. After the 2004 success there was ample media coverage to afford both Scaled Composites and XPRIZE additional support for them to expand and continue to pursue their aims. Following this early success several other XPRIZES were announced that have yet to be awarded despite various attempts to meet the requirements.
The Ansari XPRIZE won the Space Foundation's Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award in 2005. The award is given annually to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to public awareness of space programs.
Main article: Automotive X Prize
The goal of the Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE was to design, build and race super-efficient vehicles that achieve 100 MPGe (2.35 liter/100 kilometer) efficiency, produce less than 200 grams/mile well-to-wheel CO2 equivalent emissions, and could be manufactured for the mass market.
The winners of the competition were announced on September 16, 2010.
Main article: Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge
The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE was introduced on July 29, 2010. The $1 million prize had a goal to inspire a new generation of innovative solutions that will speed the pace of cleaning up seawater surface oil resulting from spillage from ocean platforms, tankers, and other sources. The team of Elastec/American Marine won the challenge by developing a device that skims oil off water three times faster than previously existing technology.
Main article: Lunar Lander Challenge
The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE (NGLLXPC) was a competition (co-hosted by NASA) to build precise, efficient small rocket systems. It was introduced in 2006 and the US$1 million top prize was awarded on November 5, 2009 to Masten Space Systems, led by David Masten; while Armadillo Aerospace, led by id Software founder John Carmack took home the second place prize of US$500,000, plus an additional $500,000 in 2008.
The Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE goal is accelerating the use of sensors and sensing technology to tackle health care problems and find ways for people to monitor and maintain their personal well-being. It was composed of two distinct Challenges held in 2013 and 2014. It was announced in 2012 and 12 finalists announced in 2013. On November 11, 2014, the winner was named to be team DMI, led by Eugene Y. Chan, MD, whose entry was the rHEALTH technology which used lasers and nanostrips to perform vast multiplexing on samples. In this competition, prize purses totaling $2.25 million were awarded.
The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a $2 million competition to improve our understanding of ocean acidification. On July 20, 2015, the winners of the challenge were announced.
Main article: Tricorder X Prize
The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE was announced on May 10, 2011, and is sponsored by Qualcomm Foundation. It was officially launched on January 10, 2012. The $10 million prize is awarded for creating a mobile device that can "diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians". The name is taken from the tricorder device in Star Trek which can be used to instantly diagnose ailments. No team met all the requirements needed to win the full prize purse. Reduced prizes were made to the strongest performers (US$2.6 million for Final Frontier Medical Devices, US$1 million for Dynamical Biomarkers, and $100,000 for Cloud DX, named "Bold Epic Innovator"). For the first time at any XPRIZE, the leftover funds from the main prize purse were diverted for consumer testing for commercialization ($3.8 million) and for adapting tricorders for use in hospitals in developing countries ($1.6 million).
Main article: Google Lunar X Prize
The Google Lunar XPRIZE was introduced on September 13, 2007. The goal of the prize was similar to that of the Ansari XPRIZE, to inspire a new generation of private investment in space exploration and technology. The challenge called for teams to compete in successfully launching, landing, and operating a rover on the lunar surface. The prize was going to award $20 million to the first team to land a rover on the moon that successfully roved more than 500 meters and transmitted back high definition images and video. There was a $5 million second prize, as well as $5 million in potential bonus prizes for extra features such as roving long distances (greater than 5,000 meters) capturing images of man-made objects on the moon, or surviving a lunar night.
On January 23, 2018, the prize ended when no team was able to schedule, confirm and pay for a launch attempt. The XPRIZE Foundation announced that "no team would be able to make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the March 31, 2018 deadline... and the US $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed."
The Anu & Naveen Jain Women's Safety XPRIZE was launched on October 24, 2016, and has a $1 million purse. The goal for competing teams is to develop a safety device for women that can autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert while transmitting information to a network of community responders. On June 7, 2018, Leaf Wearables received the grand prize winner of the $1M.
On October 20, 2018, the XPRIZE Foundation awarded The Water Abundance XPRIZE, which launched on October 24, 2016, with a purse of $1.75 million provided by the Tata Group and Australian Aid, to the Skysource/Skywater Alliance based in Venice, California, who received a grand prize of $1.5 million. An additional award of $150,000 went to the second place team, JMCC WING, based in South Point, Hawaii, to acknowledge the team's ingenuity in developing a unique technological approach. Over a 24-hour period, the Skysource/Skywater Alliance successfully extracted over 2,000 liters of water using only renewable energy, at a cost of US$0.02 per liter. The team, led by architect David Hertz, intends to use the award to productize the system to address water scarcity in the developing world.
The Global Learning XPRIZE, launched in September 2014, is a $15-million prize to create mobile apps to improve reading, writing, and arithmetic in developing nations. Each application will be developed during an 18-month period and the top five teams will receive $1 million each, with each of the winning apps being made available under an open source license. The finalist of the group, that then develops an app producing the highest performance gains, will win an additional $10 million top prize. On May 15, 2019, the grand prize winners were announced; there was a tie between Kitkit School from South Korea and the United States, and one billion from Kenya and the United Kingdom.
On December 14, 2015, XPRIZE Founder Peter Diamandis announced the launch of a new $7 million prize that will be a three-year global competition that challenges researchers to build better technologies for mapping Earth's seafloor. On May 31, 2019, the grand prize winner, receiving a total of $4M, was GEBCO-NF Alumni, an international team based in the United States, while KUROSHIO, from Japan, claimed $1M as the runner-up. GEBCO-NF Alumni used the unmanned boat Maxlimer to autonomously map 278 square kilometres (107 sq mi) of seafloor.
The challenge set was to find or create solutions for improving literacy proficiency of adults in reading within a 12-month period. The challenge was announced on June 8, 2015, and awarded with $7 million by Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The winners, Learning Upgrade and People ForWords, were announced 7 February 2019.
The $1 million Next-Gen Mask Prize is open to only 16-24 year olds and was sponsored by Marc Benioff and Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money on CNBC. On December 23, 2020, The Luminosity Lab was named the winning team with their anti-fog mask design, taking home $500,000.
This was a four-month challenge focused on the development of AI-driven systems to predict COVID-19 infection rates and to prescribe intervention plans. The $500,000 award was funded by Cognizant. The winners, VALENCIA IA4COVID19 from Spain and JSI vs COVID from Slovenia were announced on March 9, 2021.
Main article: Archon X Prize
The Archon Genomics XPRIZE, the second XPRIZE to be offered by the foundation, was announced October 4, 2006. The goal of the Archon Genomics XPRIZE was to greatly reduce the cost and increase the speed of human genome sequencing to create a new era of personalized, predictive and preventive medicine, eventually transforming medical care from reactive to proactive. The $10 million prize purse was promised to the first team that can build a device and use it to sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less, with an accuracy of no more than one error in every 100,000 bases sequenced, with sequences accurately covering at least 98% of the genome, and at a recurring cost of no more than $1,000 per genome.
If more than one team attempted the competition at the same time, and more than one team fulfilled all the criteria, then teams would have been ranked according to the time of completion. No more than three teams would have been ranked and would have shared the purse in the following manner: $7.5 million to the winner and $2.5 million to the second place team if two teams were successful, or $7 million, $2 million and $1 million if three teams are successful.
Actual competition events were originally scheduled to take place twice a year with all eligible teams given the opportunity to make an attempt, starting at precisely the same time as the other teams. This was changed to a single competition scheduled for September 5, 2013 to October 1, 2013, which was canceled on August 22, 2013. The rationale for the change was articulated by the CEO: "Today, companies can do this for less than $5,000 per genome, in a few days or less – and are moving quickly towards the goals we set for the prize. For this reason, we have decided to cancel an XPRIZE for the first time ever." A public debate concerning the validity and potential implications of the cancellation was published March 27, 2014.
The A.I. XPRIZE was announced as having an aim to use an artificial intelligence system to deliver a compelling TED talk. Diamandis hopes to contrast the benevolent value of AI against the dystopian point of view that sometimes enter AI conversations. The winning team of the contest, which is scheduled for 2020, will be determined by the audience.
On September 29, 2015, Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of X Prize, announced the launch of a $20 million prize for a 4.5-year competition on testing technologies which converts CO2 into products with the highest net value to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of either a coal or a natural gas power plant. Round three began in April 2018 as the 27 semifinalists were cut down to ten finalists; each receiving an equal share of $5 million milestone prize money. Five teams will compete at a coal-fired power plant in Gillette, Wyoming and the remaining five teams will compete at a natural gas-fired power plant in Alberta, Canada. In February 2020 this operational round will conclude and winners will be announced the following month.
A delay occurred and in April of 2021 the winners were announced: CarbonCure Technologies (Canada) and CarbonBuilt (United States).
The $10 million ANA Avatar XPRIZE is a four-year competition focused on accelerating the integration of emerging and exponential technologies into a multipurpose avatar system that will seamlessly transport human skills and experience to the exact location where and when they are needed.
The 19th of November 2019 The $10 million Rainforest XPrize was announced. Registration opened in February 2020 and the first round will begin in September 2020.
XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing is a $6 million, 6-month competition to develop faster, cheaper, and easier to use COVID-19 testing methods at scale.
Funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, the $100 million carbon removal competition is the so far largest incentive prize in history. It is aimed "to inspire and help scale efficient solutions to collectively achieve the 10 gigaton per year carbon removal target by 2050, to help fight climate change and restore the Earth’s carbon balance".
In April 2022, XPRIZE and the Musk Foundation announced that in celebration of earth day, 15 teams have been designated as milestone winners in the $100 million XPRIZE carbon removal competition. The milestone winners have revived $1 million each with the overall winners to be awarded $80 million in 2025.
The XPRIZE Foundation is governed by a board of directors that determine the annual roadmaps and act as stewards for the foundation. As of January 2018, the board of directors are:
The XPRIZE Foundation has a board of trustees that provides insights on new technologies, grand challenges requiring significant innovation, and other areas that lend themselves to prize philanthropy. A sample of the trustees includes:
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