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And the £75,000 winner is....

Many groups, even government agencies such as NASA, have begun to use prizes and competitions to push research in a more goal-oriented direction. The latest contest, just launched by the Financial Times, HP and the Forum for the Future, seeks innovative solutions to climate change and will award £75,000 for the best one. Yet the solution must be more than a great idea. The contest organizers offer this guidance:

The key requirement is that the ideas will have moved off the drawing board and demonstrated their feasibility. Entries must specify how they would use the prize money to develop and extend the product or service. Innovations which have been developed by large companies or which already have major financial support will not be considered.

The Forum for the Future will pick the twelve best ideas and a panel of judges will narrow the selection to five. In aan interesting twist that smacks of reality TV shows like American Idol, Financial Times readers will then vote to pick a winner.

Other prizes competitions haven't eschewed large companies. John McCain's energy adviser Jim Woolsey said that McCain's proposed $300 million prize for new batteries, proposed during McCain's failed presidential run, would spur US car firms to invest more in the technology.

John Travis

John Travis is the News Managing Editor at Science and also plans and edits news coverage of biology and biomedical topics.