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Prize Philanthropy

On the not-for-profit side of the spectrum, the phrase Prize Philanthropy is defined as the use of donated prizes to incentivize breakthroughs perceived as having some sort of broad social or philanthropic intent. In this expanding sector, you see diversification of the widely familiar X-prize efforts—the addition of the Virgin Earth Challenge, to find means for scrubbing atmospheric carbon dioxide; the Prize4Life, a foundation focused on treatment and detection of Lou Gehrig's disease; and other examples as well. What characterizes this end of the spectrum is that the qualifying submissions are often heroic in execution and require considerable investment and likely a coalition of talents and disciplines to pull off. However, Prize Philanthropy is rapidly moving "down-scale" to seek modular, turnkey solutions that are part of a bigger ecology in global problem solving. These would include many independent efforts, and collaborative efforts in which existing open innovation platforms serve the needs of foundations and obviate the need for massive duplication of efforts in platform construction.

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