Driving innovation with big cash prizes has become an increasingly popular method for solving tough environmental problems. Marc Gunther reported on this trend in our Summer 2012 cover story, “The Best Ideas Money Can Buy.”
The XPRIZE Foundation continues to up the ante in the prize arena. This September, it announced the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE for accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors. The goal is to improve tools for monitoring ocean acidification in order to ultimately target solutions for reducing it.
This ocean-sensing competition is the second XPRIZE sponsored by Schmidt, a philanthropist working on climate change, renewable energy, and other environmental issues. In 2010, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE awarded $1.4 million for new oil-spill cleanup technology; the winning entry worked nearly four times faster than existing technology.