By: G. Nagesh Rao
This past November, RP Siegel wrote a nice piece for Triple Pundit, about the 10 winning entries for Launch: Energy’s Innovation Challenge, and with the recent announcement of Launch’s new innovation challenge, Beyond Waste, I thought it would be wise to do a bit more of a “deep dive” into the initiative.
Launch is a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership between NASA, USAID, US State Department, and Nike to use the “power of prizes” to encourage startups to develop an innovative solution that addresses the needs of the developing world.
The founding members came together because the advances in technological innovation, albeit rapid and groundbreaking, were not addressing the issues of those truly in need of aid and help. The prize platform and gathering of smart minds is an incentivization method to encourage “garage entrepreneurs” to view their ideas through a lens of social responsibility.
The current challenge from Launch is “Waste Issues,” a topic that is timely given the growing global population and decreasing amount of natural resources. Technological advances in this space can help us learn how to do more with less. The winning design can approach the challenge from any direction: everything from traditional ideas like wastewater treatment to apps that monitor waste inefficiencies are fair game.
As someone who was invited to participate as a council member for Launch:Energy, I must confess, the sheer awe of exhilaration of walking into Kennedy Space Center and being part of such a special group of “Change Agents” is indescribable. The 10 innovators chosen and honored for their game-changing endeavors are incredibly astounding and brewing in raw intellect power. What is most compelling about the module is witnessing collaboration in its purest form amongst the various key stakeholders. All dedicated to squeezing out every bit of energy to engage and provoke each other intellectually so that we could take the best ideas and practices shared and make them even better.
To learn more about Launch, I encourage you to not only visit the organization’s website but to also read the White House Blog Posting from Astronaut Ron Garan which provides an appropriate perspective as to why the issue of “Waste Management” is of utmost importance to a “Rocket Science” agency like NASA. For all the entrepreneurs out there, get busy putting your applications together because perhaps you might become the next “Launch Innovator.”
G. Nagesh Rao was a former Senior Policy Advisor with the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Currently he serves as an Expert Strategist on IP-Law and Innovation Systems to a number of cutting edge organizations and councils including Publicbeat, Launch:Energy, LACI, and Global Access in Action. Finally he does randomly tweet on twitter when incentivized to do so.