This is a guest post by Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, who is the China Business Editor of The Economist and author of the just-published book Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World’s Most Wicked Problems.
The Rise of the Prize
By Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran
Could the incentive prize be the most powerful and yet most underutilized tool we have to tame the wicked problems of the twenty-first century?
Prizes in themselves are nothing new, of course. The Longitude Prize — a purse of up to £20,000 — was offered by the British Parliament in 1714 for the discovery of a practical means for ships to determine their longitude. This was an enormous problem on the high seas, as the inability to work out longitude on the sailboats of the age often led to costly and deadly errors in navigation. The greatest minds of the British scientific academy wrestled with this problem, but could not crack it.