In September, the Progressive Automotive X Prize of 10 million dollars was split between three teams who designed some of the worlds most energy efficient automobiles. This is the latest step in a groundbreaking movement that allows the public to combine their knowledge and skills to create and develop a product.
The X Prize Foundation’s goal is to inspire innovative and cutting edge technologies by offering substantial awards and exposure. In October 2004 the first award, the Ansari X PRIZE, was given to Scaled Composites who successfully sent their SpaceShipOne to space, twice. Fueling an independent and private space race this program was quite successful. The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is another challenge in the series that will promote advancements that will help lower the threats of our dependence on oil and pollution. Future X Prize Foundation challenges will help the world be a better place by cleaning up oil spills, tackling the ever growing problem of global poverty, and making electric grids more stable and efficient.
AltTransport sat down with X PRIZE Foundation vice president Keith Kegley at CrowdConf 2010 in San Francisco. Kegley was impressed by team variety and the results the teams were able to produce. “We had a high school team from West Philly. We had college students from Carnegie Melon. We had a team from Western Washington University. We had little garage mechanics and small entrepreneurs.” Competitions and challenges such as the Progressive Automotive X and the Ansari X are one thing, but actual product development and commercialization is quite another. How does the X PRIZE Foundation put a prize winning idea into production? “A measure of success we always hold our competitions to is, ‘did it lead to a sustained industry with new enterprise and new jobs, doing work and business in that space?’ There wasn’t just one team that competed in the Ansari X Prize, there were 26 teams competing and at least half a dozen went on to be real businesses that are doing real work in that sector. We say there is as much as $1 billion in investment, R&D, capital, and economic activity that has been created in the commercial space industry alone. And that didn’t even exist prior to the prize.”