The people behind the X Prize that kick-started personal space travel
are planning prizes in a variety of non-space fields, from automobile
technology and genome research to nanotechnology and education.

The goal is to cut through red tape, jumpstart progress and allow genius to shine.

In 2004, a $10 million X Prize purse was won by back-to-back flights of a piloted SpaceShipOne rocket plane from Mojave, California to the edge of space.

the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit-education organization based in
Santa Monica, California is setting it sights on other frontiers, chief
executive and X Prize Foundation founder, Peter Diamandis told

new challenges are being shaped with the help of high-profile additions
to the X Prize Board of Trustees: Larry Page, Google co-founder and
chief executive officer; and genomic research pioneer Craig Venter,
former president of Celera Genomics Group, which competed with the
federal government to decode the human genome.

the genomics world, we are supporting Craig Venter’s original vision of
getting an ability to have gene sequencing occur for the masses,"
Diamandis explained. "While we have a single genome sequenced, the real
benefits for humanity come when there are tens of thousands of genomes
sequenced and the computing power available today can correlate certain
sequences with certain diseases or drug interactions."

According to a Jan. 27 report in the Wall Street Journal,
the X Prize Foundation plans to offer a $5 million to $20 million prize
to the first team that completely decodes the DNA of 100 or more people
in a matter of weeks.

Along with X Prize purses for space and genomics, Diamandis said Friday that the Foundation is working on prizes in the automotive arena, nanotechnology and education.

For the automotive prize, the focus is on breakthroughs in areas like miles per gallon and manufacturing. 

do we still drive cars that use an internal combustion engine and only
get 30 miles per gallon? I think that we’ll see some amazing
achievements in this area," Diamandis predicted. Further details on
this automotive prize are forthcoming, he added, when the prize is
fully formulated.

And what’s the logic behind prizes to propel advancement?

is a tremendous economy of scale when you can manage multiple prizes
though a single organization…since after a prize is announced, there is
a lot of waiting and coaching until the teams start making attempts,"
Diamandis said.

The bottom-line forecast from Diamandis: Stand by for an upshot in progress.

are in for an amazing period of human breakthroughs in the decades
ahead. Prizes are just one of the mechanisms for enabling this … for
cutting through the bureaucracies and allowing brilliant innovators and
geniuses to shine," he concluded.

More here.