What is a Challenge Prize?

It is a challenge in which a cash prize is awarded to those who can find the most effective or immediate solution to a specific problem.

The Challenge Prize is an internationally proven method of innovation, a tool tested by governments, businesses and foundations to solve defined problems in different sectors, increase impact and scale solutions found; generate economic value and trigger systemic change.

An ancient history

The Challenge Prize have been rediscovered over the last twenty years by public and private bodies because they allow problems to be solved in a new way, avoiding the waste of economic resources for solutions whose real usefulness is unknown.

However, the Challenge Prizes have a fascinating history that begins in the 18th century with the British Longitude Prize (1714), commissioned by the British Government to solve the problem of orientation during navigation, and continues in the Napoleonic era with the invention of some instruments that are still part of our daily lives today, such as canned food and margarine.

The Challenge Prize, today

In recent years the Challenge Awards have been rediscovered to solve problems in a wide range of sectors, from the environment to health, from mobility to education and regulation. There have also been creative and visionary challenges to inspire scientists and inventors.

The work of Nesta Challenges has contributed to this second era of Challenge Awards on a global scale. Nesta Challenges was founded within Nesta and grew up in an independent organization with the aim of designing, designing and conducting Challenge Awards worldwide, constantly monitoring the results achieved and promoting greater awareness of the innovation generated through this tool.

From 2011 to date, Nesta Challenges has carried out over 30 competitions, investing £17 million in awards and involving more than 7,000 innovators worldwide.

Why organise Challenge Prizes in Italy?

The crisis that we have been facing since March 2020, if on the one hand has shown the critical issues and weaknesses of the systems that govern our society, on the other hand, it has shown the potential of innovative methods to solve the most urgent challenges, starting from the daily ones faced by communities, using the power of collective intelligence.

Therefore, we thought it was the right time to introduce the Challenge Prize tool in Italy, which through the conscious use of economic resources allows us to experiment new and creative solutions that can really have a positive impact on society.

To find out what a Challenge Prize consists of and what steps to follow in order to achieve it, we invite you to download and share the official guide available on this page.