How to Design an X Prize
Let me start with a big congratulations to those of you who have already thrown your hats into the ring for the XPRIZE Visioneering 2018 Design Challenge.
I’d also like to give a big thank you to everyone who joined my Facebook Live Prize Design Masterclass last week.
For those of you who couldn’t join, here’s a quick recap of my top three tips for designing a top-notch XPRIZE:
Do your research. Launching the best XPRIZEs requires us to understand what other efforts have been made, and perhaps most critically, why they’ve failed. By understanding the major roadblocks to past solutions, you’ll have a unique advantage in rapidly iterating ideas and seeing beyond current approaches.
Keep it broad for creativity, but measurable for judging. This is likely one of the hardest aspects of prize design, but the best XPRIZEs balance concrete metrics for evaluation with a broad license for ideas. But what does that mean? While competitions have to accommodate a variety of out-of-the-box solutions, you also need specific enough metrics to assess each team against its goal.
Make sure there’s a good reason behind every rule you write. If you have a finite number of rules, what are the must-haves that will guarantee maximum impact? Rules are the backbone of any competition, and each one should have an easily articulated and well-researched purpose. But these are just the highlights. For more training on expert prize design, take a look at my Masterclass on HeroX or get answers to some of your most commonly asked questions in my webinar.
Now that you’ve mastered the art of design, here are our five Design Challenge areas:
Natural Disaster Prediction Saving Coral Reefs Off-Grid Energy Access Feeding the Next Billion Lifting Farmers out of Poverty If you want to participate in the design of an XPRIZE competition, all you need to do is head over to the Challenge homepage. Submissions are due at 9 am PT on July 23.
I hope you’ll be inspired to join the competition (or help design it), and wish you the very best of luck.
P.S. To get you thinking, I dove into the remaining 3 of 5 Grand Challenges below: Lifting Farmers Out of Poverty; Off-Grid Energy Access; and Feeding the Next Billion. For the first two, head over to the Challenge homepage.
(1) Lifting Farmers Out of Poverty: Design an XPRIZE aimed at exponentially increasing the income of millions of smallholder farmers living on less than $2 a day.
Smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia form an overwhelming majority of those surviving on less than $2 a day.
Typically working small plots of land about the size of a football field, they tend to lack basic tools, technology, infrastructure, financing, localized market data, and agricultural know-how. Without representation, they are also vastly underserved by government policies.
To make matters worse, climate change is projected to reduce crop production by as much as 10 percent by 2030 and by an astounding 30 percent by 2080.
Living in regions particularly susceptible to extreme weather conditions, smallholder farmers are powerless against extreme conditions such as drought, pests and disease.
And as rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall continue to accelerate, low and unreliable yields will increasingly pose an economic and humanitarian strain.
What targets can you set to empower smallholder farmers and their families to become self-sufficient and achieve growing returns on their labor?
(2) Off-Grid Energy Access: Design an XPRIZE that incentivizes the provision of clean, sustainable, accessible, and high-performance energy to the 1.2 billion people around the world living without electricity.
Roughly 1 in 6 people -- or 1.2 billion worldwide -- live without access to electricity.
And almost half the global population -- or roughly 3 billion people -- rely on solid fuels and kerosene for cooking and heating.
While this massive electricity deficit most severely affects Sub-Saharan Africa, where 63 percent of people lack access, it also impacts 20 percent of South Asia, 4 percent of East Asia and the Pacific, 3 percent of Latin America, and 3 percent of MENA (Middle East and North Africa).
But as affected populations are mostly concentrated near the equator -- and most energy produced during daylight hours is consumed during the day -- energy technology breakthroughs could soon unlock massive economic development for off-grid populations.
How can we speed up energy solutions to grant electricity and vast new productivity to one sixth of the globe?
(3) Feeding the Next Billion: Design an XPRIZE aimed at offering sustainably produced nutrition to the 800 million people still suffering from undernourishment.
In 1970, about 1 in 4 people suffered from hunger or malnutrition.
Today, that ratio has fallen to about 1 in 10.
But while we’re making progress, this 10 percent still represents nearly 800 million people lacking consistent access to healthy, reliable and sustainably produced food.
With a severe impact on children, undernutrition accounts for almost half of all deaths of children under 5, taking 3 million young lives every year.
And as climate change continues to reduce crop yields, feeding 10 billion by 2050 is one of our most critical priorities.
What benchmarks will you set to ensure that 3 billion new people have access to sustainably produced, reliable and nutritious food?