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Prizes are incentives that have long been used by public or private sponsors to elicit effort of individu als and organizations. For instance, in the 18th cen tury, prizes were used to encourage basic research by compensating research results with monetary rewards or medals. Prizes also helped in the initial development of the aviation industry in the early 20th century. Notable prizes in history are, for example, the government-sponsored prize offered by the British Parliament in 1714 to the first to invent an instrument for accurately measuring longi tude at sea, and the privately funded Orteig Prize for the first aviator to fly nonstop from New York to Paris (won in 1927 by Charles Lindbergh).
More recent initiatives at the federal level include Challenge.gov, an online platform administered by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to gather the public’s ideas and talent through chal lenges and competitions. More than 20 departments and agencies have already launched competitions through this platform. The prizes analyzed in this report, however, are typically on a larger scale and seek to harness different types of resources to advance the sponsor’s goals.