by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 13th 2007 10:08pm
We've been impressed with the concept of the "X Prize" and other similar innovation-by-competition programs for many, many years. With the success of SpaceShipOne in claiming the very first X Prize (launching a man into space in a privately built rocket), the concept of prize-driven innovation has only taken off, with plenty of interest coming from private industry, looking to foster innovation in specific areas. Apparently, Google has decided to join the party -- though not in its core field of interest. It's no secret that Google's co-founders are quite interested in space and space exploration, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that Google is putting up the money for a new X Prize for sending a robot to the moon. The robot is required to do certain things once it reaches the moon in order to claim the prize. Google is doing this through the same group that ran the original X Prize, rather than doing it entirely separately, but it's no surprise that having Google's name attached to the prize will help generate even more interest in the program. Still, it'll be interesting if we start seeing a lot more private interest in creating and funding these types of prizes. It's likely that many of them, like Netflix's, will be quite specific to what the company is working on -- but the possibilities for companies with some extra money to burn to fund some pretty far out research could lead to some really fascinating contests.
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