Every year the XPRIZE foundation defines new breakthrough challenges tackling humanities’ biggest and most acute problems at their Visioneering Event. For the 2018 round 10 groups from all over the world competed in a mix of “Shark Tank” and “the Voice” – to see which will be the next Grand Challenge to become an XPRIZE. The Explainables supported the teams in preparation for their pitches and lobbying sessions. And met some interesting people…
Earlier this year the Explainables team prepared the teams at NASA frontier development lab for their final presentations at the Intel “Event Horizon”. During the reception afterwards they met with representatives from the XPRIZE foundation, who were impressed by the performance of the FDL speakers and started talking about the possibility to include the Explainables expertise to their upcoming visioneering summit.
Almost everyone knows about the new space industry; SpaceX, Blue Origin and others. One key to the emergence of this new industry was a XPRIZE set up in 1996.
The XPRIZE competitions follow the idea of the Orteig Prize, a $25,000 prize offered in 1919 for the first nonstop flight between New York City and Paris, which Charles Lindbergh won in 1927. At that time in total, nine teams invested about $400,000 to win the Orteig Prize.
Inspired by this price in 1996 Peter Diamandis set up a $10-million prize - later called the Ansari XPRIZE for Suborbital Spaceflight – to the first privately financed team that could build and fly a three-passenger vehicle 100 kilometers into space twice within two weeks. Similar to the Orteig prize, the contest motivated investments by 26 teams of more than $100 million. On October 4, 2004, the Ansari XPRIZE was won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, who successfully completed the contest in their spacecraft SpaceShipOne.
Since then XPRIZE designs and manages various public competitions intended to encourage technological development. And visioneering is the key to define new challenges or as XPRIZE writes it on their homepage:
“Visioneering is XPRIZE’s main vehicle for designing prizes that solve humanity’s Grand Challenges. By tapping into the genius of the crowd, and our global brain trust of philanthropists and innovators, we significantly increase the likelihood that our XPRIZEs will catalyze breakthroughs that generate a 10x impact in the world.”
For each of the five Grand Challenge Areas - Saving Coral Reefs, Feeding the Next Billion, Natural Disaster Prediction, Off-Grid Energy Access and Lifting Farmers Out of Poverty. – XPRIZE has crowdsourced hundreds of prize designs from around the world. Then 20 Semi-Finalists were selected to present their Prize Designs to XPRIZE's brain trust of 150 philanthropists, trustees and innovators at a hackathon in August 2018. They received feedback, iterated their ideas and kept competing to move forward to the final visioneering event. This year the Explainables then picked up and helped the final 10 competing teams that made it through the selection process to prepare for their final pitches.
In the six weeks leading up to the final summit the Explainables held weekly telecons with the participants working on the storytelling for their challenge and how to distill their message. In the days right before the summit Explainables Daniel and Isaac went to XPRIZE Headquarters in Los Angeles for an in person Explainables style communication bootcamp.
There they focused on individual video training of the final pitches as well as classic Explainable exercises to simulate the lobbying sessions and to warm up the teams for a 3 day communication marathon. Daniel then also stayed to act as on site coach, mentor, and facilitator during the event.
It was an amazing experience for everyone involved, not only for the winning coral survival team. Every team brought their best pitch to the stage and many decisions were really close. The Explainables got a lot of good feedback and are looking forward to working again with the teams and XPRIZE in the upcoming years.