Horizon Prizes are challenge prizes (also known as ‘inducement’ prizes) which offer a cash reward to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge. They act as an incentive for innovation. They prescribe the goal but not who the innovator should be or how the goal should be achieved.
This is how the Horizon Prizes work:
- first a technological or societal challenge, for which no solution has been found, is defined;
- an award is promised for the delivered breakthrough solution;
- the award criteria give information about what the solution must be capable of proving;
- the means to reach the solution are not prescribed, leaving contestants total freedom to come up with the most promising and effective solution.
Horizon Prizes are different from prizes such as the Nobel Prize or the Sakharov Prize which celebrate outstanding achievements performed in the past.
Challenge prizes are a tried and tested way to support and accelerate change in the world and have become an important driver for innovation in the public, private, and philanthropic sectors worldwide. They are recognised as:
- Providing a way to advance innovations that would not ordinarily develop through traditional routes such as grants or procurement.
- Attracting a wider range of innovators, not the ‘usual suspects’, because they have low entry barriers including not requiring a track record and because they are often exciting and inspiring.
Providing an opportunity for innovators to take a risk and to forge new partnerships.
- Leading to sustainable new products and services.
- Spurring interest in a particular issue.