In mid 2016, The Roddenberry Foundation launched the inaugural $1mil Roddenberry Prize in celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. The prize, to be awarded to five game-changing, innovative solutions, was the first step of several in a new strategic direction for the foundation. As such, we had our concerns: would our prize reach a global audience and in particular the developing world? Would we be able to surface big, bold ideas and the leaders behind them? Could we be inclusive of social enterprises and nonprofits as well as individuals and first-time innovators? And would this make a difference?
To ensure that our goals were met and our concerns mitigated we made some important design decisions at the outset. We intentionally kept the prize “issue-agnostic” and globally-oriented with a broad focus on a “boldly better future.” With the belief that social change can come from non-traditional and unexpected sources, we invited for-profit, individuals, teams, nonprofits, and B-corps to apply. We also narrowed our judging criteria to three key characteristics: the potential for transformative and lasting impact, demonstration of a feasible and achievable path to implementation, and the boldness of someone’s vision. And finally, we identified a diverse group of deeply experienced judges from varied professional backgrounds to help sort through and pick a group of winners who best represented the impact we hoped to achieve.
I’m happy to say that this first year totally exceeded our expectations. Over 110,000 people visited our prize site, several thousand of whom initiated applications, and over 600 submitted applications from 54 countries yielding five extraordinary winners.
In our 2016 Prize Impact Report, Accelerating Innovation Together, we unpack these stats, what we learned, data that interested us, statistics that surprised us, and how we can keep pushing ourselves to improve. We’re sharing this information in the hope that it will be a resource to those of you (funders and innovators) seeking to make the planet a fairer, more equitable and healthy place to live. We are also doing this with the goal of modeling greater transparency, openness, and risk-taking in what we do (and why). We are inspired by everyone who participated in this year’s prize and want to thank you for your dedication and passion for this work!
CEO of The Roddenberry Foundation