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Thread: $50 Million Prize

  1. #1
    Senior Member Rick1's Avatar
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    $50 Million Prize

    Would it make any sense to apply this or a similar model to cure research?

    Exclusive: Rules Set for $50 Million 'America's Space Prize'

    Anyone who wants to follow in the shoes of Burt Rutan and win the next big space prize will have to build a spacecraft capable of taking a crew of no fewer than five people to an altitude of 400 kilometers and complete two orbits of the Earth at that altitude. Then they have to repeat that accomplishment within 60 days.

    While the first flight must demonstrate only the ability to carry five crew members, the winner will have to take at least five people up on the second flight.

    And one more thing. They have to do it by Jan. 10, 2010.

    Those are just some of the rules that govern who wins the $50 million "America's Space Prize," an effort by Bigelow Aerospace, of North Las Vegas, Nevada, to spur the development of space tourism in low Earth orbit.

    Full Article

  2. #2
    Rick, I love the fact that Burt Rutan's budget for the successful Space Ship One was funded on only a few percent of what NASA spends on janitorial services. Rutan has shown our country that a few smart people with a little money can change the world. Burt worked around the funding issue, took the first brave step, and gave us all hope for the future. I sure wish Burt Rutan was a SCI research doctor. He would find a cure on the cheap and then find the funds to bring it to the corner hospital in your town. No guts no glory no cure!

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    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Unfotunately cure for sci is much more complecated

    And unlike in space there is no definate criteria-What is cure?

  4. #4
    MAX, The NIH and NASA think the same, they can't do a thing without 100 million here and hundreds of million there. Here is the point, Rutan did all his work on a very very small budget. I am not so sure if a rocket scientist is all that less than a research doctor. You know the old American saying "Who do you think you are, a rocket scientist?"

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    Senior Member Belle's Avatar
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    There are other differences besides the unclear endpoint and complexity. Sending people into space has been done before several times by different governments. The problem was not how to do something that had never been done, but how to do it cheaper. Also, there is a clear economic incentive - future tourism dollars. I'm guessing that is a much more lucrative endpoint than curing SCI, since not as many people would potentially pay for it. So the $10 million/$50 million prizes are as much an investment as an incentive. I don't think that would be true of SCI research - especially if the cure(s) turned out to be relatively inexpensive once found. It would be more of an investment in a social good than a financial one.

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    Senior Member Rick1's Avatar
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    No questioning the complexity of the process or the ambiguity of the finish line.

    What I'm wondering is whether a guaranteed financial incentive on the back end would help to draw therapies out of the labs more quickly.

    The idea would be to offer significant rewards at key points along a continuum of well defined benchmarks. Each benchmark would be designed to bring a therapy or therapies closer to the public. It might also serve to increase public interest.

    I'm just thinking out loud.

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    Senior Member mk99's Avatar
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    Rick I like your thinking very much.

    This is a bit of a perverse example but 9/11 showed that you don't always need to spend billions of dollars, years and years and thousands of people working on something in order to have an enormous impact. A very carefully & boldly executed plan can have incredible reprecussions for better or worse.

    Let's just say that a "rogue" researcher today applies a combination therapy to a chronic contusion injured individual who then manages to walk. What do you think the implications of this earth shattering event would be?

    I suspect it would cause an avalanche of investment & excitement by pharmaceuticals, biotechs, venture capitalists, etc. Competition is a wonderful thing! It would mean taking the concept of "never walk again" and turning it on it's head.

    A $50Million prize is a great idea. How much are you going to cough up?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Rick1's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mk99:

    A $50Million prize is a great idea. How much are you going to cough up?
    Ha.Thanks for indulging me. I'm just wondering if this could be a way to "pull" the best ideas out of the labs sooner, rather than waiting for scientists to "push" the product to us.

    I've always been frustrated by what I perceive to be an absence of incentive to accelerate the science and "push" it into a clinical setting. With all the money on the front end, it's actually little wonder that progress is slow. "Um, we haven't found that cure yet, but if you'll keep sending us money, we'll keep trying."

    Am I right to assume that a national clinical trial system would be completely independent? If so, I can't see any reason why an aggressive incentive program shouldn't be structured into it. Specific goals and benchmarks could be set by an independent advisory council. Go ahead, shoot some holes in my thinking.

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