This seems a little flaky, but there is cutting-edge economic theory behind the idea of creating incentives for the private creation of public goods. Not that we’ll apply quite yet, but it would be interesting to speculate on how one could package some of the work that is being done in telecom to qualify for the poverty reduction prize from X Prize. Silicon Valley Meets ‘American Idol’ With Prizes to Inspire Inventors – New York Times Venture capital firms are considering contests that offer competing engineers and entrepreneurs multimillion-dollar prize purses if they come up with innovative technologies in various industries. The concept is getting an introduction on March 3 at a fund-raiser at Google. The event is intended to raise a chunk of $50 million to operate the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit group that already has awarded $10 million to designers of a private spacecraft.