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X Prize crowdsources three contests tackling ocean health

As oceans become overfished, polluted, and warmer, the X Prize foundation is looking to the public to come up with ideas for three new challenges to pose to the world's top innovators.

Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

After launching a $2 million ocean health challenge last month, the X Prize foundation has decided it wants to do even more to try to protect the Earth's oceans. The foundation announced on Tuesday that it is kicking off three more ocean-focused incentivized prize competitions.

The objective of each competition will be crowdsourced -- meaning that the X Prize foundation is asking the public to come up with what they believe should be the goal of each challenge. The foundation's aim is to get the three new X Prize competitions launched by 2020.

"At X Prize, we believe great ideas can come from anywhere," X Prize Chairman and CEO Peter H. Diamandis said in a statement. "We know that crowdsourcing has enormous potential, so we are inviting the public to help us hone in on the Grand Challenges facing our oceans. Whether it's overfishing, pollution, plastics, or the myriad of other challenges, hearing directly from concerned and motivated individuals will yield new and unexpected solutions."

X Prize is known for paying innovators to come up with solutions that are normally funded by governments. The idea is that as governments become bootstrapped, X Prize is able to fill that research and investment void.

X Prize prompts scientists, government officials, business leaders, philanthropists, and advocates to pitch in on the challenges. X Prizes are not meant to just solve a problem but also to help catalyze new industries and educate the public.

This latest X Prize triple challenge builds on the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health Challenge announced in September. The Wendy Schmidt competition is focused on acidification, which is threatening the health and biodiversity of the world's oceans. In that challenge, competitors are competing for $2 million in prize money that will go to the team or teams that best come up with systems for measuring the pH level of oceans. Schmidt is involved in the three new challenges also.

"We realize that often the complexities of Grand Challenges require multiple, interacting solutions," Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Family Foundation and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, said in a statement on Tuesday. "By leveraging a suite of prizes all geared towards a grand ocean vision, we can truly achieve impact, and I am thrilled to partner with X Prize to help make this possible."