Published 29 August 2022; last updated 30 August 2022
This project is incomplete, contains information that may change over time, and may or may not be updated in the future
This is a dataset of prizes we could find for incentivizing progress toward a specific technical or intellectual goal.
Inducement prizes are created to encourage effort toward solving a specific problem, usually by offering a large monetary award for accomplishing a goal according to pre-specified criteria. Inducement prizes are distinct from those recognizing past achievements, like the Fields Medal or Nobel Prize.1
We spent approximately 10-12 hours researching prizes for technological and intellectual progress, such as crossing the ocean or proving a mathematical theorem. For inclusion in our list, a prize needed to be:
- Offered for accomplishing a well-specified goal that is reached primarily through intellectual or technological progress.
- Announced before the goal had been achieved, with a specific prize amount.
For each prize, we tried to answer several questions:
- What are the basic parameters, such as the prize amount, the conditions for winning, the year it was announced, and the financial sponsor?
- Was the prize collected, and if so, by whom?
- Was the prize’s goal achieved in the intended time frame and for the original prize amount?
- Were there other notable consequences of the prize, such as increased interest in relevant industries or a change in public perception of the party offering the prize?
We were unable to answer every question for every prize in the time allotted to the project, nor were we able to investigate every prize that appeared to match our criteria.
This table contains a condensed version of our dataset. The full dataset with sources can be found in this Google Sheet.
|Prize Name||Organization or Financial Sponsor||Years||Prize Amount (2022 $M)||Outcome||Problem Area||Winner|
|XPrize (6 prizes)||XPrize||1996-2025||5 – 100||5 ongoing 1 awarded||Various||Scaled Composites|
|NASA Green Flight Challenge||NASA||2009 -2011||1.80||Awarded||Aviation||Pipistrel-USA|
|DARPA Grand Challenge||DARPA||2004-2005||3.10||Awarded||Autonomous vehicles||Stanford Racing Team|
|Millenium Problems||Clay Mathematics Institute||2000-2010||1.00 each|
(1.7 in 2000)
|6 ongoing 1 awarded||Mathematics||Grigoriy Perelman|
|Kremer Prize||Henry Kremer||1959-1977||0.52||Awarded||Aviation||Dr. Paul MacCready|
|Orteig Prize||Raymond Orteig||1919-1927||0.44||Awarded||Aviation||Charles Lindbergh|
|Daily Mail Prizes||Daily Mail||1906-1930||.015 – 1.5||Other||Aviation||(Various)|
|Longitude Prize||British Government||1714-1735||5.72||Awarded||Navigation at sea||John Harrison|
Primary author: Elizabeth Santos
Additional writing and research: Rick Korzekwa
- From a UK government policy document on prizes:
“Innovation inducement prize (IIP): Sometimes referred to as simply an ‘innovation prize’, an IIP rewards whoever can first or most effectively meet a predefined challenge. The reward is often financial but can also include additional support, such as technical assistance. This type of prize incentivises innovation rather than rewarding past achievement (prizes that do this, such as the Nobel Prize, are referred to as recognition prizes).”
Jessica Roberts, Cheryl Brown, Clare Stott (2019) Using innovation inducement prizes for development: what more has been learned? https://www.gov.uk/research-for-development-outputs/using-innovation-inducement-prizes-for-development-what-more-has-been-learned