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By Senior space writer
updated 10/7/2004 9:34:20 PM ET 2004-10-08T01:34:20

The X Prize Foundation and the World Technology Network announced on Thursday the formation of a joint venture to launch a series of technology incentive prizes to help spur innovation and breakthroughs in a range of scientific arenas.

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The creation of new X Prize awards follows the success of the twin SpaceShipOne flights that snagged the $10 million Ansari X Prize purse. However, the new challenges are focused on other arenas, such as medicine, environment, energy, nanotechnology and informatics.

The unveiling of new technology incentive prizes was made in San Francisco during the World Technology Network’s 2004 World Technology Summit and Awards meeting.

The World Technology Network comprises more than 800 individuals and organizations from more than 50 countries judged by their peers to be the most innovative in the science and technology world. WTN is focused on matching creative talent with technological issues of the day in the hopes of jump-starting breakthroughs.

Unexpected results
"When the X Prize was first announced in 1996, industry experts scoffed at the concept of private space travel," Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation, said in a press statement. "This week, eight years later, the world watched with wonder as SpaceShipOne successfully conquered that exact challenge. Incentive prizes cause amazing, unexpected results,” he said.

The new set of  prizes are intended to inspire innovation and bring about breakthrough results with wide-ranging societal implications, such as life extension, molecular assemblers, water purification, hydrogen generation, according to the statement.

Commercially, they are intended to create leaps in research and development that will benefit all participants and open new markets.

Privately funded solutions
According to the X Prize Foundation and the World Technology Network, examples of privately-funded solutions in scientific and social fields might include the following:

  • Transportation: Demonstration of a four-seat vehicle able to achieve 200 miles per gallon in a cross-country race.
  • Nanotechnology: Construction of a pre-determined molecule by an assembler.
  • Aging deceleration: Extension of mammal life, or demonstrated evidence of aging reversal.
  • Education: Demonstration of a self-sufficient education facility able to operate independently and educate villagers anywhere on the planet.


Finding and funding the purse
Both groups are looking to identify Fortune 500 companies interested in assisting in the creation of the prizes by funding the purse in turn for title sponsorship rights. 

The first WTN-X Prizes are expected to be announced in six months.

The WTN and X Prize Foundation have developed a Web site to court competitors and attract sponsors.

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