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Background on General Prizes for Innovation


2005. Richard Newell and Nathan Wilson. Technology Prizes for Climate Change Mitigation. Resources for the Future Discussion Paper 05-33.
Though the main purpose is to explore prizes related to climate change, discussion emphasizes general prize design and implementation.

2004. Lee Davis. Intellectual Propert Rights, Strategy and Policy. Economics of Innovation and New Technology. (13)5: 399-415.
Argues that technological, social, and legal trends make prizes and other alternatives to standard patents increasingly attractive.

2004. Lee Davis and Jerome Davis. How Effective Are Prizes as Incentives to Innovation? Evidence from Three 20th Century Contests.   Paper for the Druid Summer Conference on Industrial Dynamics, Innovation and Development. Elsinore, Denmark.
Analyzes five primary challenges for innovation prizes in light of historical examples.

2003. Michael Abramowicz. Perfecting Patent Prizes. Vanderbilt Law Review. 56: 114-236.
Provides a detailed critique of prize proposals by Guell and Fishbaum, Shavel and van Ypersele, Kremer, and Lichtman. Suggests that determining the most efficient prize amount may not be feasible, but that a proposed integrated prize and patent system would still be efficient.

2002. Paul Romer. When Should We Use Intellectual Property Rights? The American Economic Review 92:2.
Considers tradeoffs involved in the use of intellectual property rights for non-rivalrous goods, and proposes a prize system as a possible alternative.

2002. Lee Davis. Should We Consider Alternative Incentives for Basic Research? Patents vs. Prizes. Paper for the Druid Summer Conference on Industrial Dynamics. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Comparison of advantages and costs of innovation prizes, including a chart comparing the pros and cons of prizes and patent monopolies.

2001. Nancy Gallini and Suzanne Scotchmer. Intellectual Property: When is it the Best Incentive System? University of California, Berkeley Working Paper E01-303.
Comparison of intellectual property, procurement contracts, and prizes with emphasis on the implications of (a)symmetry of information about cost and value. Argues that when sponsors know the value of innovations, a system with prizes linked to the social value of innovations is optimal.

2001. Steven Shavell and Tanguy van Ypersele. Rewards versus Rights. Journal of Law and Economics. 44: 525-547.
Previously published as Rewards versus Intellectual Property Rights. 1998 Harvard Law School, Olin Center for Law, Economics & Business, Discussion Paper No. 246.
Argues that the better system between standard patents and a mandatory prize system, and between a mandatory prize system and an optional prize system depends upon factors like information asymmetry. Concludes, however, that an optional reward system where the size of rewards is based upon sales would be superior to standard patents.

2000. Gerard Llobet, Hugo Hopenhayn, and Matthew Mitchell. Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents and Buyouts. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Research Department Staff Report 273.
Considers cumulative innovation with multiple innovators and innovations of unknown value. In such cases, the authors argue that a revised patent system that permits compulsory licensing by competitors would be preferable to prizes and traditional patents.

1999. Gabriella Chiesa and Vincenzo Denicolo. Patents Prizes and Optimal Innovation Policy. Mimeo. University of Bologna.

1998. Steve Calandrillo. An Economic Analysis of Intellectual Property Rights. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. 9: 301-360.
Argues for the superiority of a government run prize system over traditional patents and includes responses to common criticisms of prize systems.

1998. Suzanne Scotchmer. On the Optimality of the Patent Renewal System. Mimeo, University of California, Berkeley.

1996. Eric De Laat. Patents or Prizes: Monopolistic R&D and Asymetrical Information. International Journal of Industrial Organization. 15: 369-390.

1983. Brian Wright. The Economics of Investment Incentives: Patents, Prizes, and Research Contracts. American Economic Review. 73: 691-707.

1971. Kenneth Arrow. Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources to Invention. In Essays in the Theory of Risk-Bearing. Chicago: Markham. 144-163.

1943. Michael Polanvyi. Patent Reform. Review of Economic Studies. Winter 11(1): 61-76.


March 1, 2007. Benjamin Krohmal. Prominent Innovation Prizes and Reward Programs. KEI Research Note 2007:1.

A Short Overview of Historic Prizes and Progress.


2007 (forthcoming). Automotive X Prize. For developing super-efficient mainstream vehicles.

2006 - present. Mo Ibrahim Prize. For an African head of state who democratically cedes power after significantly contributing to the welfare of his or her constituents.

2006 - present. Netflix Prize. For developing a more accurate system for predicting consumer preferences.

2006 - present. Archon X Prize for Genomics. For innovations in genomic sequencing.

2004 - present. Project Bioshield. For the development of medical countermeasures against biological, radiological, or nuclear attack.

2004 - present. NASA Centennial Challenges. For developing various aerospace technologies.

2003 - present. Methuselah Mouse Prize. For breakthroughs in longevity research.

2003 - present. DARPA Grand Challenges. For developing driverless cars capable of navigating complex courses within a time limit.

2001 - present. InnoCentive. Registry for numerous prizes in chemistry and biology.

2000 - present. Clay Mathematics Institute Millennium Prize. For solving classic problems in mathematics.

1999 - present. Electronic Frontier Foundation Awards. For the discovery of very large prime numbers; intended to promote cooperative computer networking.

1997-2000. Cheap Access to Space (CATS) Prize. For launching a 2kg payload to an altitude of 200km.

1997-1999. Budweiser Cup. For the first non-stop balloon flight around the globe.

1995-2004. Ansari X Prize. For developing a spacecraft suitable for private space flight.

1994 - present. CASP Competition. For developing methods to predict protein structures.

1994-1999. Rockefeller Foundation Prize. For a developing a low-cost method for diagnosing gonorrhea or chlamydia.

1993 - present. Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes. For advances in nanotechnology.

1992-1994. Super Efficient Refrigerator Program (SERP). For the production of a CFC-free super efficient refrigerator.

1991-1997. FCC Pioneer Preference Program. For developing new spectrum-using communications services and technologies.

1990 - present. Loebner Prize. For advances in computer natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

1980-1996. Fredkin Prize. For the first computer program to beat a reigning world chess champion.

1959 - present. Kremer Prizes. For various advances in human powered flight.

1954 - present. NASA Space Act Awards. For technological developments that contribute to NASA's goals.

1948-1997. Wolfskehl Prize. For proving Fermat's Last Theorem.

1946 - present. US Patent Compensation Board. For important developments in atomic energy that are not eligible to be patented.

1931-1991. Soviet Committee for Invention Awards. Awards for a broad range of inventions, based upon the social value of the invention.

1919-1927. Orteig Prize. For non-stop trans-Atlantic flight.

1913-1919. Daily Mail Trans-Atlantic Prize. For trans-Atlantic flight.

1910-1911. Hearst Prize. For flying accross the United States in under thirty days.

1908-1909. Daily Mail English Channel Crossing Prize. For the first flight accross the English Channel.

1904-1908. Archdeacon Prizes. A series of prizes offered for numerous achievements in aviation.

1900-1901. Deutsch Prize. For flying a course around the Eiffel tower in thirty minutes.

1895-1895. Chicago Times-Herald Prize for Motors. For the development of "practicable, self propelling road carriages."

1823-1827. French Society for the Encouragement of Industry Prize. For producing a large scale commercial hydrolic turbine.

1802 and 1807. Smallpox Reward. For developing a vaccine to prevent infection with smallpox.

1795-1809. French Society for the Encouragement of Industry Prize. For developing a method of food preservation for the French military.

1783-1791. French Academy of Sciences Alkali Prize. For developing a process for producing alkali to promote paper, glass and soap production.

1714-1773. Longitude Prize. For developing a method to determine longitude at sea.

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