XPRIZE offers $2 million in prizes for better tools to monitor ocean acidification

Two purses of $1 million each: one prize is for accuracy and the other is for affordability.

XPRIZE has announced its newest incentivized prize competition, following the successful Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE.  The $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE seeks to draw out state-of-the-art, accurate, and affordable pH sensors from global innovators, to transform automatically our collective understanding of the process and evolution of ocean acidification.  The total prize value for the competition is $2 million, awarded in two purses of $1 million each – one for accuracy, and the other for affordability, and may both be awarded to the same person or team.

The world’s oceans absorb approximately 25 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that humans release into the atmosphere, causing the chemistry of the water to change and the oceans to become more acidic.  Due to increased CO2 emissions, ocean acidity is currently at record high levels, which could have devastating global consequences.

Due to the ubiquity of inadequate or unaffordable sensors currently available, ocean acidification is only well documented in a few parts of the world, rendering it nearly impossible to monitor our most endangered ecosystems.  In order to understand and adapt to the threat of ocean acidification, improved pH sensing systems to monitor and collect ocean pH data are urgently needed.

“Just as we have sensors to monitor our body’s vital signs, we need a device to help determine the acidity of our oceans before we can determine the best solution to improve its health,” said Paul Bunje, Senior Director of Oceans, XPRIZE.  “To accomplish this, we hope to incent innovators around the world, across disciplines, to compete for this prize not only for the ecological benefits, but for the market potential worth far more than the prize purse itself.”

The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is the second partnership between Wendy Schmidt and XPRIZE.  Preceding this, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE was a $1.4 million competition to stimulate innovative solutions to increase the rate of cleaning up oil spills, with the first place winner achieving a cleanup rate nearly four times the industry’s previously recorded best cleanup rate.

“Ocean acidification is a serious threat we are only beginning to understand,” said Wendy Schmidt.  “It could have significant ecological and societal implications, changing the health of entire ecosystems, affecting the global economy and the biodiversity of the planet. As we did with the Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, we aim to inspire innovators around the world to get behind the creation of better, more efficient methods to monitor and measure ocean health, and ultimately to improve it.”

Jonathan Marker, Science Recorder, 9 September 2013. Article.

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