There is no shortage of excellent, incentivizing prizes in the world — competitions that inspire innovation and ingenuity to make the world a better place. The XPrize is a pioneer in the social innovation competition arena, describing itself as a “catalyst for the benefit of humanity.”
“X”-type prizes have blossomed, with challenges offered by various organizations, both public and private. They have tough criteria, such as being “audacious but achievable.” Facebook, for example, offered a $20 million XPrize to anyone who could figure out how to turn CO2 emissions into sustainable concrete.
Overcoming the purpose paradox
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Verb runs competitions and awards prizes to “solve wicked problems,” associated with issues such as energy, food and nutrition, poverty, healthcare and gender issues. Verb has partnered with many prominent organizations, such as the Everglades Foundation* — on a $10 million prize to remove phosphorous from freshwater bodies — and IBM, on a millennial social-entrepreneurship reality miniseries on YouTube.
These competitions are excellent ways to inspire innovative thinking and elicit brilliant ideas. Sometimes, though, distributing these ideas and growing them to scale remains a challenge. Other times, the ideas remain just that — ideas — which don’t make any real impact, despite their huge potential.
This is where the D-Prize — which differs significantly from other prize competitions — comes in. Instead of incenting ideas, it strives to reward distribution methods for great ideas to reach people in need.
Winners of a D-Prize — five to 15 social entrepreneurs — are awarded up to $20,000 to launch a pilot of their venture in a developing region, such as Africa or India. If the pilot goes well, the D-Prize helps find further funding for the initiative to grow its impact. Challenges include designing a simple management system that tracks the distribution of vaccine supplies; creating a system for selling clean cook stoves, and maintaining long-term adoption rates, in developing areas; and developing a process to sell solar lamps to sub-Saharan rural households.
As for this last challenge, the most recent D-Prize winners did just this. Sage — an organization led by Matt Evans and Dan Murphy — makes solar-powered appliances available through long-term payment programs, utilizing mobile money payments, data-driven distribution and customer relationship management.
Thus far, there have been 47 winners of the D-Prize — 47 distribution solutions to help already conceived, brilliant ideas create scalable impact.
The D-Prize is representative of the world-changing ideas and organizations currently found on our Idea Accelerator, a section of the Carol Cone ON PURPOSE (CCOP) website. Our goal at CCOP is not only to partner companies and brands with the world’s foremost purpose and CSR experts, but also to showcase breakthrough ideas for social and environmental impact.
The Idea Accelerator exists to showcase bold, new and compelling concepts seeking growth through corporate and brand partnerships. So if that describes you, reach out to us — we’re actively looking for more ideas to feature and we’d love to speak with you.
Just as the D-Prize seeks to connect great ideas with effective distribution systems, we seek to connect companies with great ideas while supporting both to grow.