Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Kampung Xprize?

I am sure you all have heard of Charles Lindbergh, the man who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic.

What you may not know is that he won the $25000 Orteig_Prize for doing it. The prize was offered by a New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig to the first aviator to fly an aircraft directly across the Atlantic between New York and Paris. The aftermath of this flight was the "Lindbergh Boom" in aviation: aircraft industry stocks rose in value and interest in flying skyrocketed.

Ever heard of the Xprize Foundation. Well one of its first prize offered by the foundation was the Ansari Xprize, which was a race to promote personal spaceflight. The USD 10 million prize was won by SpaceShipOne - "Burt Rutan and financier Paul Allen led the first private team to build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the earth's surface, twice within two weeks"

There are other competition such as the DARPA Grand Challenge, which is a prize competition for driverless cars sponsored by the US Department of Defense. DARPA is offering $2M for the fastest qualifying vehicle, and $1M and $500,000 for second and third place.

There are many more competitions similar to the above. One thing I find in common with all of them is that they all aim to break old barriers and promote innovations. Some of these barriers are psychological barriers, such as, "It can't be done! Man cannot fly. Etc."

I think Malaysia or other developing nations should have their own "Xprize" competition to spur, encourage and develop a "garage tinkerers and backyard inventors" mentality among the people. Call it "The Kampung Xprize" if you will... :-)

The objective of "The Kampung Xprize" should be to generate and cultivate a culture of home or village inventors (or innovators).
I do believe that it is this "inventive" culture on the grassroots level that will form the basis for countries to grow and progress; and maybe one day to produce an Edison of their own.

In Malaysia, there are the millions of dollars allocated by the Government to fund research and development in the form of grants to spur technological growth and progress. But these grants are just too complicated and out of reach for almost all common Malaysians.

The Kampung Xprize is exactly what is needed. Maybe I will come up with a sample of how the Kampung Xprize' mechanics could be in my next post. See got mood or not... LOL.


George said...

Didn't even know such thing exist! They should just scrap the stupid billion ringgit thing to send one malaysian to space and use for things like that.

Scientific research can be outsource to other countries (excuses to me) for their guys to do in space.

Actually i think there are quite a bit of inventors award and stuff... not sure about such prize. But look at our leaders la... dun wan to say more :P

Jack Hii said...

Actually in Malaysia, there is an association dedicated to innovations and inventions called MINDS. They have been around for many years and are very organised. The ITEX (International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition) is organised by them and was held in May in KLCC this year. They have also organised a lot of competitions in schools. Overall quite active.

However, I feel that all their activities are general and not really "guided". Dun get me wrong, there is nothinbg wrong with that but...maybe there should be a "national agenda" that guides where some of the "breakthroughs" should be directed at.

E.g. Maybe the money spend on getting a "Malaysian" to space could be better spend on getting Malaysians to invent some ways to go to space, similar to the "Ansari XPrize" as part of the National "Space" agenda... LOL

Btw... SpaceShipOne won the XPrize of USD 10 million but they spent about USD 30 million to build it... :-) I think it is damn bloody cool!!!

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