Inventing Clean Technologies
Intellectual Property and the Environment series
Chapter 9: Environmental Prizes: The H-Prize, the L-Prize, and the X-Prize
9. Environmental prizes: the H-Prize, the L-Prize, and the X Prize Historically, prizes have been used by governments and corporations to encourage technological innovation to address problems and challenges. Famously, the British government passed the Longitude Act 1714 (UK) and offered three financial incentives to the inventor who developed a device capable of accurately measuring longitude.1 The winner of the prize was John Harrison, a clock maker. He was awarded £20,000 for designing an accurate and durable chronometer 59 years later. In 1775, the French provided a 100,000-franc prize resulting in an artificial form of alkali being produced. In 1810, the first vacuum-sealed food was produced by Nicolas Appert, after 15 years of experimentation, driven by a 12,000-franc prize offered by Napoleon. The aviation industry was spurred by prizes for crossing the English Channel and the Atlantic. The British Spitfire was developed as a result of the Schneider trophy, a series of prizes for technological development. The X Prize Foundation promoted private space flight with the $US 10 million Ansari X Prize.2 In October 2004, the Mojave Aerospace Ventures team captured the Ansari X Prize for the historic space flight of SpaceShipOne. The civil society group Knowledge Ecology International has provided a historical survey of innovation prizes and reward programmes that have been implemented with the primary purpose of stimulating innovation.3 The organisation contends that prizes have a number of virtues when compared with grants and patents: Prizes, however, offer certain important advantages over grants or temporary...
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