Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE Offers $2 Million Award

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

XPRIZE 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, visit oceanhealth.xprize.org.

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