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Expect a Flood of Competitions As US Tries To Spur Public Inventions 75

coondoggie writes "When it comes to stirring the brains of genius, a good competition can bring forward some really great ideas. That's the driving notion behind myriad public competitions, or challenges, as they are often labeled, that will take place in the near future sponsored by the U.S. government. The competitions are increasing by design as part of the $45 billion America Competes Act renewed by Congress last year that gave every federal department and agency the authority to conduct prize competitions, according to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy."
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Expect a Flood of Competitions As US Tries To Spur Public Inventions

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  • Scam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:43PM (#39647669) Journal

    This kind of thing is a scam. Hold a contest for ideas, pay for only the best idea, and then you can use any of the losing ideas you want for free. It's not a "contest", it's an end run around labor laws.

  • All for competitions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rclandrum ( 870572 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:26PM (#39648213) Homepage

    Having led the Shredder challenge for all of a week or so (the teams killed me :), I can attest that the cash prize offered was (for me) an incredible incentive to come up with a solution. Offering direct prizes for innovative solutions to specific, limited, problems is a great idea and one that can help foster a spirit of inventiveness. Patents are a non-issue unless you plan on commercializing a solution, and if that is the case, you (or the government) could license what is needed.

    Take even a cursory look at the inventions produced (and commercialized) by citizens of the United States, and you quickly realize that we created most of the things used in the modern world. It is exactly that spirit of inventiveness that the government should be encouraging to help create new jobs, and a challenge program is a direct and productive way to go about it.

  • Re:Well, okay... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:59PM (#39648687)

    It's been that way for a long, long time. FM Radio was not released in the 1930s because RCA had secured the patents on broadcasting, and they desired to protect their existing AM service. They even petitioned the government to provide monoplistic protection.

  • Re:And... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by syntheticmemory ( 1232092 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:06PM (#39648795)
    The rest is reserved for the patent trolls.
  • Nice Idea in Theory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaKong ( 150846 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:17PM (#39650385)

    I have a startup that is bootstrapping itself as we speak. It is difficult. Banks won't lend to you. VCs want to exploit you. Access to funds is non-existent. One of the ways that the government claims to help startups is with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. They are exceptionally restrictive and prone to cronyism at worst, and extreme risk aversion at best. Solyndra in particular has exacerbated the latter.

    Bureaucrats are about the world's least able people to evaluate business ideas or technological innovation. Bureaucrats are the diametric opposite of the risk-takers that entrepreneurs are. They are the last people who ought to be sitting in judgement on the merits of innovative ideas.

    So, holding competitions to award prize money to great ideas sounds like an excellent proposition in theory, but in practice it gets sucked down into the mire of why our country is failing badly: the wrong people are in charge.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak