Google offers $10 million for ideas to change the world

Google celebrates 10th birthday

Google changed the world with a simple idea, and is now offering US$10 million to help anyone who can do the same.

Part of Google's 10th anniversary celebration, a new project announced Wednesday encourages people to submit ideas for changing the world, and then vote on which ones have the potential to help the most people. It's been named Project 10100 (pronounced "Project 10 to the 100th"), after the numeric value of a "googol."

"Never in history have so many people had so much information, so many tools at their disposal, so many ways of making good ideas come to life," Google writes on the project Web site. "Yet at the same time, so many people, of all walks of life, could use so much help, in both little ways and big."

There are seven categories for idea submissions, including sustainable energy use, environment, health, education, shelter, encouraging communities, and building opportunities to help people better provide for themselves and their families. An eighth category is simply titled "everything else."

While the public may vote on submissions, an advisory board will choose which ideas get funded.

The deadline for submissions is October 20, and a team of Google employees will select 100 for public consideration, to be announced on January 27, 2009. The public will then vote to select 20 semi-finalists, and an advisory board will choose the winners in mid-February. Google will distribute US$10 million to fund as many as five ideas.

Submitting an idea is easy. Fill out a form at this site, answering questions such as "if your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how?" and "describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented."

Submitters are also encouraged to make a YouTube video describing their ideas.

Google is looking for ideas that will help large numbers of people, especially those with urgent needs, and ideas that are simple and cost-effective yet will have long-lasting impacts. Google mentioned several previous ideas that might fit the parameters of this content, if they hadn't been thought of already. One is the Hippo Water Roller, a 24-gallon container that holds water and can be easily rolled on the ground with a handle, taking some of the burden off people in areas where water is scarce such as portions of Africa.

Google is encouraging individuals, rather than organizations to submit ideas.

If your idea is chosen, you won't have to implement it yourself. After selecting the ideas that will be funded, Google will use a public bidding process to identify organizations able to make the projects happen. The reward for getting your idea chosen is "good karma and the satisfaction of knowing that your idea might truly help a lot of people."

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Jon Brodkin

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