"Offering a cash prize to encourage innovation is all the rage. Sometimes it works rather well." The Economist says patrons are offering big prizes like the Ansari X to motivate inventors. "The Ansari X Prize, for example, has attracted over $100m in investment into the (previously non-existent) private-sector space industry. The technology used by the winning spaceship is now employed by Virgin Galactic to develop a commercial space-travel service, and many of the losing contestants have formed companies in the burgeoning sector. The important thing about a well-designed prize, argues Dr Diamandis, is its power to 'change what people believe to be possible'. Indeed, they open up innovation."