Monday, September 22, 2008

Can America Invent Its Way Back?

BusinessWeek had a great article called "Can America Invent Its Way Back?" this week about innovation, and what influences innovation. The idea of prizes is covered, and of course, one of our prizes, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, was mentioned.

At the crux of this article is the question "What causes innovation?" Is money enough of a motivation to create innovation? Certainly, money can be a great motivator, and causes many people to think of many things. I think Cole Porter (music composer) said something along the lines of "My biggest inspiration is a paycheck." And at the X PRIZE Foundation, we offer $10 million to solve a grand challenge. But is it the money that makes competing worthwhile? I don't know.

My favorite quote from the BusinessWeek article is this one: "Innovation is not just exerting effort and spending money, it's problem-solving," says Karim Lakhani, a professor at Harvard Business School.

What do you all think? What's the greatest motivation for innovation? Is our model of offering a monetary prize the answer? Or is it something else?

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