Los Angeles, CA – (September 9, 2013) — XPRIZE (www.xprize.org), the global leader in incentivized prize competitions, today announced the launch of its next major competition: the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. On the heels of the successful Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE aims to spur global innovators to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors that will ultimately transform our understanding of ocean acidification, one of the gravest problems associated with the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).
The oceans absorb about one quarter of the CO2 that humans release into the atmosphere, causing the chemistry of the water to change and the oceans to become more acidic. As a result of increased CO2 emissions, ocean acidity is now at unprecedented levels, which could have devastating global consequences.
With inadequate or unaffordable sensors currently available on the market, ocean acidification is only well documented in a few parts of the world, making it nearly impossible to monitor our most imperiled ecosystems. To fully understand and adapt to the threat of ocean acidification, better pH sensing systems to monitor and collect ocean pH data are urgently needed.
“Just as we have sensors to monitor our body’s vital signs, we need a device to help determine the acidity of our oceans before we can determine the best solution to improve its health,” said Paul Bunje, Senior Director of Oceans, XPRIZE. “To accomplish this, we hope to incent innovators around the world, across disciplines, to compete for this prize not only for the ecological benefits, but for the market potential worth far more than the prize purse itself.”
The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is the second collaboration between Wendy Schmidt and XPRIZE and furthers the commitment by both to address the Grand Challenge of ocean health. The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE was a $1.4 million competition to inspire a new generation of innovative solutions to speed the pace of cleaning up oil spills, with the first place winner accomplishing a cleanup rate almost four times the industry’s previously recorded best cleanup rate.
“Ocean acidification is a serious threat we are only beginning to understand,” said Wendy Schmidt. “It could have significant ecological and societal implications, changing the health of entire ecosystems, affecting the global economy and the biodiversity of the planet. As we did with the Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, we aim to inspire innovators around the world to get behind the creation of better, more efficient methods to monitor and measure ocean health, and ultimately to improve it.”
The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a 22-month competition in which teams can compete for one or both of the two $1,000,000 purses – one for accuracy and one for affordability. For more information about the competition structure, important dates, and the registration process, or to submit an intent to compete for this breakthrough prize, please visit oceanhealth.xprize.org.
Founded in 1995, XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the leading organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development, worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. XPRIZE conducts competitions in five Prize Groups: Learning, Exploration, Energy & Environment, Global Development, and Life Sciences. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, and the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE. For more information, go to www.xprize.org, “like” us at http://www.facebook.com/xprize and follow us on Twitter @xprize.
About Wendy Schmidt
Wendy Schmidt is President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, which strives to advance the development of clean energy and support the wiser use of natural resources. She also is founder of the foundation's grant-making arm, The 11th Hour Project, and Climate Central, an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the American public. With her husband, Eric Schmidt, Wendy created the Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 to provide future opportunities aboard research vessels for urgent ocean studies. Her work at non-profit ReMain Nantucket focuses on generating a model for smart community downtown development on the island, where her family spends summers. Wendy earned an M.A. in Journalism from The University of California at Berkeley, and a B.A. magna cum laude from Smith College. She serves on the boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Climate Central, The California Academy of Sciences, The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, V-Day, and MAIYET.
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