Casting call for YouTubers: $25k for green ideas

The X Prize Foundation, also behind the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, has put together an eco challenge for YouTubers called "What's your crazy green idea?"

Stefanie Olsen
Stefanie Olsen Staff writer, CNET News
Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.
2 min read

YouTube might be best known for videos of cute animals and teens dancing with light sabers. But one nonprofit wants to use it as an idea factory.

The X Prize Foundation, the same organization behind the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize to send private vehicles to the moon, said Tuesday that it has put together an eco challenge for YouTubers called "What's your crazy green idea?" Dream up a world-changing idea to stop global warming, post a two-minute YouTube video about it, and it could be worth $25,000.

That's a paltry sum compared to the $10 million at stake for the X Prize's upcoming Automotive X Prize for energy-efficient vehicles. But the X Prize's goal with the YouTube contest is to drum up ideas from the general public for its next big Energy and Environment Challenge, which would potentially be worth millions to the people who implement the idea. For now, venture firm Prize Capital has staked $25,000 for a concept alone.

The X Prize Foundation is behind the $10 million Archon X Prize for Genomics and the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize to build a moon vehicle that can surf over lunar rocks. The YouTube contest is one of its first smaller-scale contests to seed a larger challenge, but it fits in with a broader investment theme of the environment. The foundation is scouting for breakthroughs in clean fuels, renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, carbon reduction, and sustainable housing.

The video contest was announced Tuesday at a forum with Massachusetts Institute of Technology called "Seeking Radical Breakthroughs in Alternative Energy--What I Would Advise the Next President." The X Prize group teamed with MIT to host a fall lab class for students to come up with ideas on energy and environment challenges. Last semester, the same idea focused on health care resulted in a student idea for a tuberculosis diagnostics X Prize competition to help save 1.6 million lives per year.

But you don't have to attend MIT to think of an environmental prize. For the YouTube contest, people must submit their ideas to the Google-owned site before October 31. The three best will then be posted on the X Prize Web site on November 15, and the public can vote for the most outstanding within two weeks.

The guidelines are to answer three questions: What is the worldwide problem that you are trying to solve?; what is the specific prize idea, with rules and judging criteria?; and how will it benefit humanity?

Maybe the winning video will somehow involve a cute animal with a light saber?