Prizes, Innovation #resist


Beth Klein Boulder Attorney talks resistance through technology.

How to ensure that safety and health care is available, the environment is preserved, our universe explored, and people are treated equally are on the minds of many.   Does the answer lie in innovation?  Can we solve political and social problems and make petty politics irrelevant with technology and market forces?

1927 Orteig Prize, of $25,000 was offered by hotelier Raymond Orteig to spur tourism. Charles Lindbergh accepted the challenge and crossed the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis. The $25,000 prize lead to a boom in air travel the world over.

In 1716 Longitude Prize sought technology to more accurately measure longitude at sea. Nearly 60 years later, a British clockmaker named John Harrison invented the chronometer, which spurred Trans-Atlantic migration.

In 1795, Napoleon offered a 12,000 franc prize for a better method of preserving food, to ensure that good food reached the front lines of his armies. The breakthrough innovation to Napoleon’s prize led to the creation of the canning industry.

On October 21, 2004, Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne reached the edge of space, an altitude of 100km, becoming the first privately built spacecraft to perform this feat, twice within two weeks.  In so doing, they won the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE, ushering in a new era of commercial space exploration and applications.

Currently the XPRIZE Foundation, offers prizes to solve the world’s Grand Challenges — ocean health, literacy, space exploration, cancer cures, water, food.

One sector is devoted to women’s safety.  Women’s Safety Xprize   The Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE challenges teams to leverage technology to keep women and communities safe.  The winning team’s solution will autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert and transmit information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds and at an annual cost of US $40 or less. Teams will compete for a total prize purse of $1 million.  The Teams solve these problems with technology.


GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF OUR OCEAN XPrize is a $7 million global competition challenging teams to push the boundaries of ocean technologies by creating solutions that advance the autonomy, scale, speed, depths and resolution of ocean exploration.  The success of this prize will allow us to fully explore and map the ocean floor, and uncover our planets greatest wonder and resource for the benefit of humanity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $1 million bonus prize will incentivize teams to develop technologies to detect the source of chemical and biological signals underwater.

Teams will compete in two rounds of testing that:

Must launch from shore or air and, with restricted human intervention, their entries will have limited number of hours to explore the competition area (at depths of 2000 and 4000 meters) to produce:

1. a high resolution bathymetric map
2. images of a specified object
3. identify archaeological, biological or geological features


ORGANOGENESIS is a prize development funded by UCLA. There is currently a shortage of available transplantable organs. Roughly 1 million organs are needed worldwide and in 2012, only 114,690 transplants were performed. Due to the lack of available organs for transplant, patients get caught in a “catch-22.” In order to place high enough on the organ waiting list, they must be one of the sickest patients, yet well enough to survive the transplant surgery. With immunological suppression, the median organ transplant survival rate is approximately nine years. While this survival period is often characterized by improved function and quality of life, chronic rejection eventually sets in for almost all patients, resulting in deteriorating health. These patients would potentially have better outcomes if they received transplants at an earlier stage in their disease.

The winning team will demonstrate the successful function of a bioengineered human tissue and/or human organ (heart, lung, liver or kidney). These demonstrations will be showcased in a bioreactor ($1 – $2 million purse for demonstrating a tissue or $10 million purse for demonstrating an organ) or via one or two successful in-human organ transplants ($30 million purse, $20 million purse respectively).

A $1 million Diversity Prize will be split among 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, and that five teams have verified launch contracts and are moving forward to the final phase of the competition to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the Moon.  NASA is being replaced by individual innovators working together.

All teams had until December 31, 2016 to have a verified launch contract in place.  Five teams are moving forward to the final phase of the competition:

  • SpaceIL (Israel), a non-profit organization, has secured a position on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Their goal is to make an educational impact and to create an “Apollo Effect” for the next generation in Israel.
  • Moon Express (USA), signed a multi-mission launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for three lunar missions by 2020. Their directive is to open up the Moon’s vast resources for humanity and establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit.
  • Synergy Moon (International), team member Interorbital Systems will serve as the launch provider, using a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry a lunar lander and rover to the surface of the Moon. Synergy Moon is made of up individuals from over 15 countries, with a mission to make manned orbital travel, personal satellite launches and Solar System exploration cost effective and accessible.
  • TeamIndus (India), signed a commercial launch contract aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). TeamIndus’ spacecraft is designed to nestle inside the nosecone of the PSLV and will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
  • HAKUTO (Japan), signed a rideshare agreement to have TeamIndus carry its four-wheeled rover to the Moon. Hakuto’s ultimate target is to explore holes that are thought to be caves or ‘skylights’ into underlying lava tubes, for the first time in history, which could lead to important scientific discoveries and possibly identifying long-term habitats to shield humans from the Moon’s hostile environment.

This week a human-pig embryo was developed, and organs were grown in host animals.

What if abortion was unnecessary?  What if fossil fuels faded into the past?  What if healthcare was delivered so that everyone had access to well-being?

Stanford researchers disclosed that they have developed algorithms to detect over 300 patterns of skin cancer that diagnose conditions as effectively as dermatologists.  The diagnosis of skin cancers always begin with a visual assessment. Now artificial intelligence has the ability to do that job.  Moving the technology forward, researchers are developing apps for phones to diagnose cancer.

Already pathologists run horrifying Instagram accounts to assist in the diagnosis of health issues and causes of death.  Alicia Potters and Nicole Angemi have forwarded diagnostics with their accounts. Ms. Potters works as an assistant at a pathology lab in Florida. The lab gets tumors, body parts, and human remains from doctors who hope the pathologists and their assistants will identify the maladies plaguing patients—or, more often, their cause of death.

Potters had to investigate why a woman miscarried her fetus at around 12 weeks.  All Potters had to go on was the woman’s tiny fetus which was about half the length of an adult’s pinky finger. In dissection Potters found malformed intestines and that part of the fetus’s brain was missing. Potters took a photo of the fetus with her smartphone and later sent it to Ms. Angemi, a pathologist assistant more than 1,000 miles away in New Jersey. Angemi then posted it to her Instagram feed, which has half a million followers.

A physician based photosharing system, Figure1 is also available and HIPAA compliant.  Instagram is not required to comply with HIPAA because it doesn’t work directly with hospitals, but it strips all metadata from images.  The power of sharing is evident.  There’s @MedicalTalks, which has 724,000 fans.

NASA released all of its research for free to the world.  Wikileaks dumped data on climate change this morning.  Taking references off of is not going to stop the exchange of information to save the planet; it will make the Whitehouse irrelevant in the solution. No seat at the table.

Innovations and disruptors are us.  And perhaps we need not rely upon the petty politicians and their vanity and whim to solve problems only when they can take credit. Taking down information on government websites is not going to stop people from creating solutions or making the issues of Trump irrelevant.


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