XPRIZE and California Governor Gavin Newsom Partner To Design an Incentive Prize For Innovation To Battle Wildfires

XPRIZE, the global leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, has announced a collaboration with California Governor Gavin Newsom, to design an XPRIZE competition that would drive innovation and develop hardware able to rapidly detect and extinguish wildfires. XPRIZE will work in collaboration with a number of stakeholders, including the Governor’s team, to design this important XPRIZE over the next several months while also actively seeking sponsors to underwrite the prize purse and operations.

“Wildfires cause damage to human lives and billions of dollars in property loss each year yet there has been shockingly little innovation in this space,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, XPRIZE founder and executive chairman. “XPRIZE wants to reinvent what has been an old form of firefighting. This competition hopes to leverage cutting edge sensors, networks, artificial intelligence, robotics and material sciences to both detect wildfires at their earliest inception and extinguish them before they spread.”

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, across the U.S. in 2018, 55,911 fires burnt over 8,582,609 acres of land, an area larger than the state of Maryland. Since 2015, California has seen ten of the most destructive wildfires in the state’s history. To unlock innovation in this space, XPRIZE aims to ultimately launch a competition by early 2020. 

“Harnessing the power of competition to drive innovation, the XPRIZE will focus on solutions to the existential threat of wildfires,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “I am proud to stand with XPRIZE as they launch this competition. The XPRIZE will complement California’s spirit of innovation and promote leading-edge solutions to address wildfires.”

The funding to develop this XPRIZE concept, including the background research, the development of competition rules and operating guidelines, was provided by Dr. Richard Merkin, CEO of Heritage Group and a longtime XPRIZE benefactor and Vision Circle member.

“I’ve long since been inspired by the XPRIZE model and truly believe that competition and collaboration are key to innovation, and it takes all of us working together, across different sectors and industries, to truly make a difference,” said Merkin. “It’s an honor to be a part of this project and I’m excited for all that’s to come.” 

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