The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE

October 8, 2013 - via XPRIZE

The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a $2 million global competition that challenges teams of engineers, scientists and innovators from all over the world to create pH sensor technology that will affordably, accurately and efficiently measure ocean chemistry from its shallowest waters… to its deepest depths.

There are two prize purses available (teams may compete for, and win, both purses):
A. $1,000,000 Accuracy award – Performance focused ($750,000 First Place, $250,000 Second Place): To the teams that navigate the entire competition to produce the most accurate, stable and precise pH sensors under a variety of tests.
B. $1,000,000 Affordability award – Cost and Use focused ($750,000 First Place, $250,000 Second Place): To the teams that produce the least expensive, easy-to-use, accurate, stable, and precise pH sensors under a variety of tests.

The Need for the Prize
Our oceans are currently in the midst of a silent crisis. Rising levels of atmospheric carbon are resulting in higher levels of acidity. The potential biological, ecological, biogeochemical and societal implications are staggering. The absorption of human CO2 emissions is already having a profound impact on ocean chemistry, impacting the health of shellfish, fisheries, coral reefs, other ecosystems and our very survival.

The Market Failure
While ocean acidification is well documented in a few temperate ocean waters, little is known in high latitudes, coastal areas and the deep sea, and most current pH sensor technologies are too costly, imprecise, or unstable to allow for sufficient knowledge on the state of ocean acidification.

Breakthrough sensors are urgently needed for scientists, managers and industry to turn the tide on ocean acidification and begin healing our oceans. A competition to incentivize the creation of these sensors for the study and monitoring of ocean acidification’s impact on marine ecosystems and ocean health will drive industry forward by providing the data needed to take action and produce results.

Making a broad impact—one that reaches far beyond new sensing technologies—is critical to the success of the prize. It begins with a breakthrough pH sensor that will catalyze our ability to measure—and thus respond to—ocean acidification.

But the breakthroughs go far beyond this impact:
    •    Provide tools for the study and monitoring of ocean acidification’s impacts on marine creatures and ecosystems, and thus ocean health
    •    Catalyze ocean acidification research
    •    Catalyze the development of the ocean services industry – data, information, forecasting and more for global industry
    •    Inspire innovations in ocean sensing technology broadly for deployment in many platforms and to effectively monitor the health of the oceans
    •    Create both tools and support for policymakers and public officials
    •    Inspire the public to engage in solving ocean acidification

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