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重赏科学家冒险

2008-07-03
重赏科学家冒险
作者:英国《金融时报》克莱夫•库克森(Clive Cookson)伦敦报道
2008年7月2日 星期三
总部位于美国的X大奖基金会(X Prize Foundation)将与英国电信(BT)合作,目标是“走向全球”。该基金会负责开展科学和技术方面的竞赛,每项奖金总额均超过1000万美元。

根据6月26日宣布的协议,英国电信将为这个非盈利性基金会提供700万美元的运营资金,用以承担开发新X奖的成本。这些新X奖项是为了“解决我们时代的一些最大挑战”,尤其是在能源、环境和生命科学方面。

2004年,伯特•鲁坦(Burt Rutan)获得最早的亚轨道太空飞行X奖,该基金会的名字由此产生。伯特•鲁坦目前正与李察•布莱信爵士(Sir Richard Branson)旗下的维珍银河公司(Virgin Galactic)合作。自那时起,X大奖基金会已经推出了两个1000万美元的奖项(分别奖励最便宜的基因组序列和最节油的汽车),并且在谷歌(Google)的赞助下,推出了一个3000万美元的奖项,用来奖励首家能把机器车送上月球的私人公司。

X奖的创始人兼总裁彼得•戴曼迪斯(Peter Diamandis)表示:“我们一直是一个非常以美国为中心的组织。我们需要一个全球化的、来自美国之外的合作者,共同分享我们促进创新的兴趣。”

在英国电信方面,它希望此次合作将会帮助促进其在北美的扩张计划。它的美国收入每年上升15%至20%,在上一财政年度达到近15亿美元。

X基金会将利用英国电信的支持筹集更多赞助,弥补一年至少推出两项新奖金的成本。戴曼迪斯表示:“我们的目标是,在未来5年推出价值3亿美元的奖项。”这可能会激发各个竞赛团队总计30亿美元到50亿美元的研发支出。

下一个奖项可能会集中在癌症、可再生能源以及海洋学上。该基金会旨在唤醒研究中的冒险精神,就像18世纪鼓励测量经度的奖项和20世纪初的航空奖项一样。

戴曼迪斯表示:“我真的很想挑战目前的科学机制。人们已经变得如此的厌恶风险,以致于实现真正的突破变得越来越困难。我想激励人们去冒险。”

译者/董琴

阅读本文章英文,请点击 SCIENCE PRIZE FUND WINS M TO TAKE CREATIVE DRIVE GLOBAL
SCIENCE PRIZE FUND WINS M TO TAKE CREATIVE DRIVE GLOBAL
By Clive Cookson in London
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
The US-based X Prize Foundation, which runs science and technology competitions with prizes totalling more than m (6.4m, £5.1m) each, is to “go global” in collaboration with BT, the UK telecoms group.

Under an agreement to be announced on the 26th June, BT will provide the non-profit foundation with m (4.5m, £3.6m) in operating funds that will cover the costs of developing new X Prizes “to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time”, particularly in energy, the environment and life sciences.

The foundation made its name with the original X Prize for suborbital space flight, won in 2004 by Burt Ratan (who is now in partnership with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic). Since then it has launched two m prizes (for ultra-cheap genome sequencing and fuel-efficient cars) and a m prize sponsored by Google for the first private company to land a robotic rover on the moon.

Peter Diamandis, X Prize founder and chairman, said: “We have been very much a US-centred organisation. We wanted a partner who was global, [from] outside the US, who shared our interest in driving innovation.”

BT, for its part, hopes the partnership will help promote its corporate expansion plans in North America. Its US revenues are rising at 15-20 per cent annually and reached about .5bn in the last financial year.

The foundation will use BT's support to raise sponsorship and cover the costs of launching at least two new prizes a year. “Our goal is to launch 0m worth of prize purses over the next five years,” Mr Diamandis said. That would trigger spending of bn-bn by the competing teams.

The next prizes are likely to focus on cancer, renewable energy and oceanography. The foundation aims to revive a spirit of adventure in research, like the 18th-century prizes to measure longitude and the early 20th-century aviation prizes.

“I really want to challenge the current mechanisms of science,” said Mr Diamandis. “People have become so risk-averse that it is becoming difficult to make real breakthroughs. I want to give people incentives to take risks.”
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