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X Prize

The X Prize shakes gives stagnant industries a shot of entrepreneurial innovation. Plus Big Thinker Peter Diamandis.

Peter Diamandis's mission is to use cash prizes to inspire innovation in industries that are happy to sit back and make money on the utterly unacceptable status quo. The original $10 million Ansari X Prize successfully inspired a non-NASA manned space flight (and will soon result in consumer space flights from Virgin Galactic), but it's the expansion of the idea into other areas that may have the greatest impact. Currently on tap is $10 million for the first team to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days and a to-be-determined sum for a super-fuel-efficient car that will put the Prius to shame.

Peter Diamandis

I wanted to bring about a radical breakthrough in how we get people into outer space. I fundamentally believed that there must be a better way to open this frontier. I know firsthand that the day before something is a breakthrough, it is a crazy idea, and that the establishment rejects change and abhors crazy ideas. The Ansari X Prize experiment worked, just like when Charles Lindbergh won the Orteig Prize for his transatlantic flight 80 years ago. We are genetically programmed to compete, and we do our best work, and take the highest risks when we go head-to-head for fame, fortune, or honor.I have become very passionate about rewarding the folks who pull off these crazy ideas. Not those who try, but those who actually make it happen. We are hoping to launch about $300 million in purses over the next five years, in areas such as education, global poverty, cancer, and health care, because we think X Prizes are one way to combat the risk-averse society that has developed over the last 40 years. As an American, I think risk-averse behavior is destroying our nation. As a human, I know we will need visionaries and risk-takers to overcome the challenges we will face in the decades ahead.Peter Diamandis is the founder of the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit prize institute created to foster radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.

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