David Cameron, UK’s Prime Minister, will launch a new global prize today for inventors and scientists to identify and solve the biggest problems of our era.
Downing Street hopes the competition, offering a reward of £1m, will stir the innovators inspiration to come up with ground-breaking ideas for low-carbon travel, advances in medical science or future-generation limb replacement.
Cameron is expected to announce the prize at the G8 Innovation Conference today, ahead of the meeting of leaders of the world’s richest countries next week.
"We want people to think big. What does the world need and how can we achieve that? We are looking for the next penicillin, aeroplane or World Wide Web”, a Downing Street source said. "Can we grow limbs or create universal low-carbon travel? Something that is going to really revolutionise what we do and how we live our lives - sending us sprinting ahead in the global race."
The government took inspiration for the competition in the Longitude Prize, which had promised £20,000 in 1714 for figuring out how to calculate longitude in the open sea thus making maritime navigation easier. Almost three centuries later, Astronomer Royal Lord Rees will be chairing the 'new Longitude Committee' evaluating disruptive ideas of today.
Apart from that, £50m from the UK’s aid budget will be offered for ideas to solve pending problems of the developing world.
Speaking at the G8 Innovation Conference that brings together leading innovators and prominent thought leaders from a broad range of disciplines, Cameron is expected to stress the importance of innovation, new ideas and technologies in shaping the global economy in the 21 century.
"Countries around the world have got to get this. Jobs and growth depend on it. We've all got to open up our economies to innovation, we've got to nurture new ideas, we've got to bend over backwards to attract the best and the brightest", Cameron is expected to say.
During the event, which has the goal of shaping the dialogue between policy makers, researchers, businesses and social enterprises, Cameron will also launch the Government's new information economy strategy that aims at boosting e-commerce.