This week at XPRIZE's Visioneering 2013, 120 of the world's visionary thinkers will gather for three days to discuss the world's grand challenges, and how we might solve them using incentive competitions. The event itself is extremely inspiring and a lot of fun, attracting an incredible 'who's who' from the philanthropic, corporate and entrepreneurial world. Past attendees range from Larry Page and Sir Richard Branson to James Cameron, Quincy Jones, and Paul Allen.
Visioneering is a standard format. We typically pick five to ten "themed grand challenge areas," and our group of attending philanthropists, CEOs and government leaders focus on discussing the associated problems and market failures and then design Prizes to try and address them. Over the three-day Visioneering weekend the participants will develop dozens of Prize concepts, and then in a competitive head-to-head showdown that resembles a cross between TED and American Idol, the prize concepts are winnowed down to five finalists. In 2012, these are the five ideas that made it to the finals:
- Empowering the Unpowered (affordable, on-demand rural energy)
- Sydney By Lunch (high-speed, low-carbon travel from New York to Sydney in less than two hours)
- Brain Dashboard (non-invasive, affordable brain health monitor)
- Ed-U-Phone (achieving literacy on a mass scale, sustainably, by tapping into the universal desire for mobile technology)
- Motion of the Ocean (portable, affordable desalination device powered by wave and tidal energy)
Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision, and his team received the top honors for "Ed-U-Phone." That prize idea ultimately led to the creation of the Global Literacy XPRIZE, which is currently in development, and which we hope will revolutionize global literacy and change what people think is possible regarding the means and methods used to learn.
A number of today's funded and launched XPRIZEs were born from past Visioneering sessions. Two concepts, AI Physician and Lab-on-a-Chip, conceived during a session in 2010, led to the funding and launch of the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE.
For Visioneering 2013 we have chosen eight topics that go beyond the XPRIZE's established interests in space, oceans and health. The critically-important new subjects we will tackle are:
- Aging: How do we prepare for an expanding older population?
- Behavior: How can we incentivize people to stop doing things that are bad for them or for society?
- Happiness: How can we live happier, safer lives?
- Infrastructure: How can we rebuild strong, innovative, resilient public and private infrastructure, physical and virtual?
- Learning: How can we educate and train students of all ages to prepare them for 21st century jobs?
- Mobility: How will we move ourselves and our information in the future?
- Security: How can we protect our communities, our businesses, and our nations?
- Women: How do we engage the power of women and girls in communities around the world?
What idea will win this year? Be sure to follow the action on Twitter at #Visioneering starting around April 25 on through the weekend, and visit xprize.org/visioneering to learn the results of the competition. Together with a clear vision of the future, we can solve the world's grand challenges and create a world of abundance.