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The Next Big Thing - From Gumshoes to Corporations

Jun 25, 2008
Ever since the first gumshoe paid his favorite informant $20 for the name of the doll that shot Mr. Big three times in the head with his own .45, money has been the motivator for getting the right information from those who have it.

Leap forward a few decades and the biggest payday was recently made by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen who were paid $10,000,000 bucks by the X Prize Foundation when their private rocket made it into space. Sure the foundation also got an event out of the money in the form of a space flight, but make no bones about it, what they were really paying for was the information about how to get a man into space twice, with private money.

Such is the development of a growing trend to tap into minds of geeks and creative entrepreneurs everywhere to solve the riddles of today faster than normal progress might allow, by offering an ever-increasing flow of large amounts of money. In fact, the current X Prize Foundation contest dangles another $10,000,000 for the winner of a race between clean production-ready cars that exceed 100 MPG. The deadline is 2009 and 2010 and already there are 45 groups approved to at least qualify for the prize.

There are more:

$10,000,000 offered by Google and The X Prize Foundation for a private mission to the moon, travel 500 meters, and send data back to Earth.

$25,000,000 offered by Richard Branson to create a commercially feasible way to remove greenhouse gasses from Earth's atmosphere.

$10,000,000 offered by the X Prize Foundation to an enterprise that can sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days at a cost of $10,000 per Genome.

$1,000,000 offered by Netflix to improve automated movie recommendations.

$1,000,000 offered by the Department of Defense to create a lightweight garment that provides 20 watts of electric juice for 96 hours.

$1,000,000 offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute to solve seven unsolved math problems.

$500,000 offered by NASA to build a machine that autonomously excavates simulated lunar rock during a timed event.

$300,000 offered by CAF Foundation, NASA to build a small aircraft that is easy to operate as an automobile and has an 800 mile range.

$400,000 offered by NASA to build a glove that makes it easier for astronauts to manipulate objects.

These are just the start of the big money that will follow. Yet, think about it. What does Sir Richard risk with $25,000,000 if someone can give him a commercially feasible way to eliminate greenhouse gases from earth. How many hundreds of millions of dollars could he ultimately make from that prize?

How to apply the big Idea.

Our goal in these pages is not to just present Big Ideas but to present practical applications for our clients. Ask yourself what mystery exists in your industry? How can you use this concept of Cash for Information on a smaller scale in your own Backyard?

Could a doctor offer a $50,000 prize for a commercially feasible supplement to help his patients?

Could a pest control company offer a $25,000 prize for a new non-toxic way to eliminate pests?

Could a local hospital offer a $1,000,000 prize for a cure for Breast Cancer?

Could a Bank offer a $100,000 prize to solve a local public service problem?

The answers are yes and the other ideas are endless. Creating a prize particularly one with a noble cause to help others would create great buzz for the company. Not only would there be news articles on announcement of the concept, but updates on the progress as well as news coverage again at the end of the contest, particularly if there was a winner. If the Prize was also designed around a commercial application there would be ongoing press as well as real profits form producing the products generated from the discovery.

There are many real applications to this idea which you could use on a small or large scale. You can do good, make money, and get great PR. Not a bad triple punch.
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