The Financial Times of London, with backing from Hewlett Packard and Britain''s Forum for the Future, has opened a competition to identify and promote innovative ways of tackling climate change. The winner, to be picked next March, will get a $75,000 prize. Considering that the paper is looking for ideas that ''have progressed further than the drawing board but are not yet fully commercial,'' it would be nice of course if the FT''s winner emerged from the technologies Spectrum has picked as energy winners, such as lithium ion batteries for hybrids and carbon capture from coal.
The paper''s panel might also consider our feature on mass-producing solar energy in North Africa to power Europe, or any number of other innovations it could easily find by searching our site on categories like solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal. But certain restrictions FT has put on the prize probably preclude our contributing directly. For one thing the newspaper has ruled out giving the award to any large company, because it wants the prize to induce or accelerate breakthrough activity. Also, the paper defines innovation more the way economists do, as opposed to technologists''examples of what it has in mind include the Grameen Bank, which pioneered microcredit in Bangladesh, and the Zipcar, which encourages people to use cars only when they absolutely need to or want to.
The prize procedure is as follows. For the next 11 weeks, FT readers are encouraged to submit ideas and names of companies. Then a panel that includes Virgin''s Richard Branson and the Pew Center''s Eileen Claussen, will make a short list. In March, Financial Times subscribers will be invited to vote the winner.