May 22, 2014, by Graham Kendall

Longitude Prize 2014

The (from their web site) “Longitude Prize 2014 is a challenge with a £10 million prize fund to help solve one of the greatest issues of our time. It is being run and developed by Nesta, with the Technology Strategy Board as launch funding partner.

The longitude prize is so named as there was an urgent need in the 1700’s to enable sailors to accurately navigate around the world, and a competiton was launched to help solve this problem.

In 1714, the British Government offered, by Act of Parliament, £20,000 for a solution which could find longitude to within half a degree (equivalent to 2 minutes of time), and a group later known as the Board of Longitude was set up to assess submissions and offer rewards. These experts included the Astronomer Royal at Greenwich and other scientific, maritime and political leaders” (see the full history).

Six new challenges have been proposed, and they will be voted on to give the modern day equivalent of the 1700’s longtitude prize. The six challenges are:

  1. Dementia: How can we help people with dementia live independently for longer?
  2. Food: How can we ensure everyone has nutritious, sustainable food?
  3. Antibiotics: How can we prevent the rise of resistance to antibiotics?
  4. Water: How can we ensure everyone can have access to safe and clean water?
  5. Flight: How can we fly without damaging the environment?
  6. Paralysis: How can we restore movement to those with paralysis?

Voting for which one will become the challenge will take place between the 22 May 2014 and the 25 June 2014.

You will be able to submit solutions to the competition, which will run for five years or until the prize is won, in September.

This is an interesting initiative and well worth taking a look. You might also be interested in watching the BBC’s Horizon program about this challenge, for those of you that can access BBC i-player.


Posted in Competition