Challenge Prizes
Skip to content

Challenge prizes offer a reward to whoever can first or most effectively meet a defined challenge. They are a tried and tested way to support and accelerate change in the world. They are also making a comeback, as governments and funders look for better ways to solve problems, create value and exploit the opportunities presented by collaborative technologies.

At Nesta we host the Challenge Prize Centre, an array of prizes using this methodology.

You can also read on for our selection of examples, videos, publications and blogs that explain more about Challenge prizes.

Examples of Challenge Prizes

The Longitude Prize

Nesta's guide to historical challenge prizes

Selected Innovation Prizes and Rewards Programs KEI Research Note 2008:1 (over 100 examples covering everything from margarine to the moon)

Saltire Prize

Ansari X-Prize

Virgin Earth Challenge

NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes

DARPA Grand Challenge (driverless cars)

Listverse: 10 Fascinating Prize Challenges


US Government Webinars on Challenges and Prizes (13 videos)

X-Prize YouTube Channel

The Longitude tele-movie (21 x 10min episodes)


Nesta, Social Challenge Prize Guide

Nesta, Challenge Prizes Landscape Review

Nesta, Neighbourhood Challenge – learning from innovative communities

Nesta, Mass Localism

McKinsey & Co, “And the winner is …” Capturing the promise of philanthropic prizes

White House, Guidance on the Use of Challenges and Prizes to Promote Open Government

Heidi Williams, Innovation Inducement Prizes: Connecting Research to Policy, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 2012

Joseph E Stiglitz, Scrooge and intellectual property rights BMJ, December 2006

Deborah D. Stine Federally Funded Innovation Inducement Prizes CRS Report for Congress - June 2009

Liam Brunt, Josh Lerner and Tom Nicholas Inducement Prizes and Innovation Centre for Economic Policy Research - Discussion Paper Series No. 6917

Abdullah Gök The impact of innovation inducement prizes, Nesta Working Paper 13/18

Blog posts

Centre for Challenge Prizes launches

Bright ideas to tackle unemployment

Ashden Awards


Prize and challenge architecture Department of Health & Human Services, basics of designing prize and challenge competitions

Prizes to Pull Innovation into International Development DAI, ideas on prize design

“And the Winner Is…” Summary presentation of McKinsey Report

Challenge Prize Platforms