Thursday, April 03, 2008

Saltire prize - £10 million (got your attention now?)

Alex Salmond has announced the Saltire Prize - a £10 million prize for advances in clean energy.

Remember the Ansari X-Prize - the privately sponsored prize for the first people to put a craft into space twice within two weeks? Or the Orteig prize, which pushed Lindbergh to fly the Atlantic? Well, the Saltire Prize is intended to trigger and stimulate the same kind of step change in renewables. Obviously Alex Salmond wants the prize to nucleate industries in Scotland, where the wave and tidal (and wind) resources are exceptional.

To my way of thinking, the success of these earlier prizes was driven by the clear and unambiguous targets (getting into space, flying the Atlantic). It's not clear yet, from Alex's speech at least, what the criteria for winning the prize will be. There's a waffley bit in the press release:

The key elements of the Saltire Prize are:
  • capturing imaginations: challenge that can inspire a revolution in green energy

  • global challenge: high profile prize open to teams from across the world

  • relevant to Scotland: relevant to area in which Scotland has strong natural resource and can be demonstrated in Scotland

  • capitalises on Scotland's expertise: challenge will reflect area in which Scotland has strong technical expertise and people already working

  • achievable in the short-medium term: challenge ideally achievable within a 2-5 year timeframe
I hope the criteria are clearer when they get defined, as this prize won't pull in the effort and investment unless people know what it takes to win.  I love the idea though (mainly because it's an idea I've had myself, but Redfield Consulting doesn't have the budget that Alex has), so let's hope it really gets things moving in the sector.

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