The Market Shaping Accelerator’s Innovation Challenge is a prize challenge that aims to identify promising innovations in climate change and biosecurity, whose development can be encouraged through pull funding (paying for outputs rather than funding inputs).
In its inaugural Innovation Challenge, the MSA will award up to $2,000,000 in prizes for ideas and developments of market shaping proposals. The aim of the challenge is to crowdsource ideas for market failures where innovation is under-incentivized in two domains: biosecurity with a focus on pandemic preparedness and climate change. The MSA will then support teams working on designing pull mechanisms targeting these problems.
The challenge has two stages: idea submission, and then developing a practical proposal.
In Phase I of the challenge, we are holding an open call for ideas and will award up to $500,000 in total, with the top submissions receiving $4,000 each. The submission template asks applicants to identify a market failure where the social value exceeds private incentives and where we know the measurable outcome we want to encourage (e.g. the development of a vaccine, capturing carbon out of the air, etc.). Submissions are accepted from individuals 18 years and older and organizations around the globe whose participation and receipt of funding will not violate applicable law.
A subset of ideas from the first phase will be selected for advancement to Phase II, where they will be placed into the Accelerator to work on designing the pull mechanism and contract. Teams will receive financial support, technical advice from domain specialists, and expertise from the world’s leading market shaping scholars to help fine tune the idea. Over several months, teams will produce more detailed pull mechanism designs. By the end of the Accelerator period, up to $1.5 million in aggregate prizes will be awarded.
The distinguishing feature of this prize challenge, and the MSA’s work in general, is that it focuses on pull funding for innovation:
Pull mechanisms are policy tools that create incentives for private sector entities to invest in research and development (R&D) and bring solutions to market. Whereas “push” funding pays for inputs (e.g. research grants), “pull” funding pays for outputs and outcomes (i.e. prizes and milestone contracts). These mechanisms “pull” innovation by creating a demand for a specific product or service, which drives private sector investment and efforts towards developing and delivering that product or technological solution.
Pull funding is likely to be useful in two situations:
- An innovation has a clear endpoint/desired technology, but many possible ways to arrive at that technology.
- An innovation requires private R&D to become feasible.
If your idea for a climate innovation or a biosecurity innovation satisfies either of these criteria, it may be suited for pull funding. Pull funding is less useful for innovations that don’t require private investment (e.g. the technology exists and the constraint is adoption), or innovations that don’t have a clear end goal (e.g. basic research).
EAs should definitely participate in this - I’ve seen tons of ideas on the Forum that sound like they would be good candidates!