Prizes provide incentives to advance technology; Nobel Prizes for innovation and excellence in a number of fields have been given for decades.
In addition, most of us are aware of the original X-Prize for building a commercially viable rocket that would propel man into space. Now "the X PRIZE Foundation is widely recognized as the leader in fostering innovation through incentivized competition". It now offers prizes in four different areas: Education & Global Development, Energy & Environment, Life Sciences, and [Space] Exploration.
The original offering of the X-Prize has also encouraged other organizations, large and small, to follow suit and offer their own prizes. Recently, a consortium of interested parties, including recording celebrity Art Garfunkel announced that it is offering a prize of $2 million in gold bullion to inspire researchers to find a cure for blindness by 2020.
Established through Johns Hopkins, the goal of the prize is to trigger research into the variety of diseases that cause blindness---80 percent of which are preventable---in 39 million people around the world. They are also hoping that the excitement generated by the announcement could lead to more donations and, perhaps, pledges to fund the research.
Another recent announcement is the M-Prize from The Harvard Business Review/McKinsey M-Prize. They call it "The Innovating Innovation Challenge". They are looking for examples and ideas that will help [them know "how to build innovation into the woof and warp of our organizations". For more information on the new HBR/McKinsey M-Prize series, read Dr. Gary Hamel's introductory post on the brand-new M-Prize site. They seek real-world case studies, progressive practices, and bold idea for getting innovation out off the drawing board and into implementation.
In fact, back in 2010, Hamel and his Management Innovation eXchange teamed up with the Human Capital Institute to award a Human Capital M-prize, this year adding a Leadership M-prize as well.
Our forecast is that more wealthy individuals will embrace the opportunity to offer these kinds of incentives and we will soon see a growing number of these prizes and awards. For a relatively minimal investment, society receives a tremendous benefit.
Special thanks to Wharton Professor Dr. Kevin Werbach for raising our consciousness about the valuable use of prizes. His book "For the Win" from Wharton Press is available today from Amazon.com or by eBook November 8th at http://wdp.wharton.upenn.edu/books/for-the-win © Copyright 1998-2012 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved. From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com
The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc. Reprinted with permission.