The aim, as you’ve probably heard, is to source and fund five solutions a year, for 10 years, solutions to the biggest environmental and social problems we’ve ever faced.
The prize is £1m for each selected idea, to further develop it into a true working solution.
This competition idea in itself is transformative, shifting the dialogue from “we’re doomed” to “we can do this”.
And I believe we can. Open competitions are an ideal way to run this kind of collaborative endeavour.
Ideas are, for some people, pretty easy. Getting funding for ideas is generally very hard.
Executing ideas – actually putting them into practice and developing them into workable real world solutions – that’s much harder still.
An idea might be quite simple. In business they often are. ‘All the taxis connected in an app’ or ‘a big social network’. Now try building it!
Even a demonstration version. And then try funding it, running it as a business, managing people and systems and understanding laws and operating at the front edge of technology and needing tens, then hundreds, then thousands of people, and the idea is seen for what it is, or was, a seed, that once watered and nurtured and tendered becomes a huge ecosystem of connected organisms incomprehensible as a whole by anyone.
Ideas are easy. Which is why an open competition to draw them in is the perfect way to begin.
Collect thousands of ideas. Sift them, winnow them, the wheat from the chaff, and the best, find them, fund them, and bring the people together to actualise them.
The ideas person is rarely capable of building the thing they envision, at least not alone.
And for this reason, ideas people rarely get funded and rarely get to have their vision sprout to life.
They probably don’t even want to have the stress of building a mega enterprise, and lack everything required to do so, holding only the idea, the seed. This makes them uninvestable in business, and hence the seeds lay dormant.
What Earthshot will do, I hope, is enable all those seeds to be gathered from across the UK, and the ones with potential for life-transforming fruit will be given a chance to live.
Ideas have no worth on their own, they need soil, water, air, sunlight, and together, there is life.
I’m going to enter the competition myself. I have the idea for a device I term a “gravity piston”.
It’s a piston that goes up and down, as pistons do, to generate electricity, at scale.
In fact it only works at scale, and it’s powered only by gravity. It’s a simple idea easily sketched out on a side of paper.
Easy to explain it, to draw the gravity piston on a sheet of paper, but to put it into practice, even to computer model it, is beyond my technical skills.
And the working pistons are huge, they need to be, a decent engineer could probably do the maths and work out various computer-generated versions.
If you have an idea to change the world, to heal the world, keep it in mind a little longer, let it germinate a little, and come November, apply to the Earthshot with it and give it a chance of life.
We all live here, on Earth, we’re all part of the story, part of the great game, we’re all part of the problems, and we are all part of the solutions.
Let’s not aim for “back to normal” that was heading downhill fast.
Let’s aim high, for paradise, for that is what we were given in the beginning and that is what we can restore to the ideal of our own best and ever improving vision.
Let’s do it for David. And if you’re an artist or engineer capable of making my gravity piston sketches germinate a little, get in touch.
As a matter of great urgency. As David might say.