Press Release

World’s Top CEOs & Philanthropists Debate and Decide Which of Humanity’s Grand Challenges Could Be Solved by X PRIZEs

By SpaceRef Editor
April 26, 2011
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X PRIZE Foundation’s Visioneering Workshop Identifies Top Prize Ideas

PLAYA VISTA, CA–(Marketwire – 04/26/11) – The X PRIZE Foundation hosted more than a hundred CEOs, philanthropists, heads of innovation and government leaders at its annual “Visioneering Workshop” held at Fox Studios in Los Angeles on April 16th and 17th, 2011. The weekend was focused on identifying the world’s biggest problems, the “Grand Challenges” which are best addressable through incentive competitions. More than 50 prize concepts were generated, debated and competitively down-selected to a top eight which will serve to guide the Foundation’s work over the next 12 months.

The X PRIZE Foundation is best known for launching the private spaceflight industry through the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE and accelerating the ultra, fuel-efficient vehicle market through the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. During the lively Visioneering brainstorms, attendees developed ideas for potential X PRIZEs and X CHALLENGES within the four Prize Group categories of Life Sciences; Energy & Environment; Exploration; and Education & Global Development.

The Visioneering sessions were attended by some of greatest engineers, scientists, innovators, and business executives in the world, including Eric Schmidt (Chairman, Google); Dean Kamen (creator of FIRST and Segway); Ratan Tata (Chairman, Tata Group); Pete Worden (NASA Ames); Aneesh Chopra (U.S. CTO); Naveen Jain (CEO, Intelius); Dan Hesse (CEO, Sprint); Carl Bass (CEO, Autodesk) as well as entertainment industry luminaries, including James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic); (The Black Eyed Peas); Jim Gianopulos (Chairman & CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment); Lyn and Norman Lear; and Ali Velshi (CNN). Also participating were senior executives of General Electric, General Motors, Novartis, Celgene, Shell, Kauffman Foundation, PepsiCo, and Qualcomm.

“The diversity of ideas was incredible. We spent 48 hours addressing Grand Challenges ranging from water, global disaster and poverty, to stems cells, bionics and re-inventing education. We were incredibly honored to have such prominent thinkers and innovators donating their time and passion to this process,” said Peter H. Diamandis, the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. “The weekend was incredibly powerful and productive.”

During the Visioneering experience, each attendee chose to participate in three of the 12 Grand Challenge topic sessions. During each session, a vibrant debate was held to identify and vote on where breakthroughs were most critically needed. Next, the Visioneering participants created X PRIZEs and X CHALLENGEs designed to implement the desired breakthroughs. Through a series of rapid fire ‘pitches’ and voting, the top three X PRIZEs were selected for each topic session. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the top 36 incentive prize concepts were once again pitched in front of the entire group and voted upon using hand-held computerized voting machines to get down to the top eight and finally to the top three X PRIZE concepts.

“By no means was this weekend a passive exercise. Our guests transcended normal meeting boundaries and were highly engaged in drawing, constructing, prototyping and even acting out business and prize ideas,” said Francis Beland, X PRIZE Foundation Vice President of Prize Development. “While the Visioneering process is only one way X PRIZE obtains new prize and challenge ideas, we have found that it is incredibly effective and is a critical component to our prize development process.”

The following are the eight X PRIZE concept “finalists” led by those voted into the top three by the participants. These concepts will inform the Foundation’s X PRIZE development focus during the next 12 months:

1. Water (“Super ‘Brita’ Water Prize”) — Develop a technology to solve the world’s number one cause of death: Lack of safe drinking water.

2. Personal Health Monitoring System (“OnStar for the Body Prize”) — Develop and demonstrate a system which continuously monitors an individual’s personal health-related data leading to early detection of disease or illness.

3. Energy & Water from Waste — Create and demonstrate a technology that generates off-grid water and energy for a small village derived from human and organic waste.

4. Around The World Ocean Survey — Create an autonomous underwater vehicle that can circumnavigate the world’s oceans, gathering data each step of the way.

5. Transforming Parentless Youth — Dramatically and positively change the outcome for significantly at risk foster children, reducing the number of incarcerations and unemployment rate by fifty-percent or more.

6. Brain-Computer Interface (“Mind over Matter”) — Enable high function, minimally invasive brain to computer interfaces that can turn thought into action.

7. Wireless Power Transmission — Wireless transmission of electricity over distances greater than 200 miles while losing less than two percent of the electricity during the transmission.

8. Ultra Fast Point-To-Point Travel — Design and fly the world’s fastest point-to-point passenger travel system.

The X PRIZE Foundation will now seek funding to further develop detailed prize concepts, guidelines and business plans for each selected competition. For those chosen to become active X PRIZEs and X CHALLENGEs, a purse and operations sponsor will be sought. The full prize design process can take from six to eight months to complete for each prize concept.

The “Visioneering Workshop” was made possible by the generous support of Celgene, Twentieth Century Fox and Moment Factory.

For additional details on the X PRIZE Foundation and its prize development process, visit


Founded in 1995, the X PRIZE Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The X PRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration (Ocean and Deep Space). Prizes won include the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private, suborbital space flight; the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe); and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE CHALLENGE for advanced rocket development. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. For more information, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.