U.S. Pushes Prizes As Spark For Innovation | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 16 | p. 33 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 16, 2012

U.S. Pushes Prizes As Spark For Innovation

Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: challenge, prize, research, competition, report, OSTP

Prizes can help federal agencies tackle ambitious projects without forcing them to decide which strategies are most likely to succeed, says a report from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Prize competitions, according to the report, also have the advantage of reaching beyond the “usual suspects” to those in different disciplines or industries and of being cost-effective because only success triggers payment. The report looked at the more than 150 prize competitions run by 40 federal agencies since 2010. The ability of agencies to offer prizes was expanded by the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010. “The legislation makes it dramatically easier for agencies to enlist this powerful approach to problem-solving and to pursue more ambitious prizes with robust incentives,” OSTP staff wrote on the agency’s blog. Other Obama Administration policies have also made it more straightforward for agencies to create prizes. In the past two years, competitions have ranged from reconstructing shredded papers to finding new ways to dispose of waste to developing “apps” related to energy, flu, or business.

 
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