SOURCE: X PRIZE Foundation

X PRIZE Foundation

May 20, 2010 08:00 ET

X PRIZE Foundation Gathers Top Tech Titans at Lucasfilm for a Radical Benefit for Humanity

Hosted by Larry Page, Sergey Brin and James Cameron, Event Celebrates X PRIZE Foundation's Legacy of Innovation, Vision for Future

PLAYA VISTA, CA--(Marketwire - May 20, 2010) -  The X PRIZE Foundation's Radical Benefit for Humanity: Making the Impossible Possible, One Prize at a Time gala in San Francisco Saturday evening brought together the tech titans of Silicon Valley with global leaders in business and entertainment under one roof to envision the future. The event raised over $4 million for the Foundation.

The event, held at Lucasfilm at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the city's historic Presidio, was hosted by Producer James Cameron and Suzy Amis; Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki; Google Co-Founder Larry Page and Lucy Southworth along with X PRIZE Foundation's Chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis and President and Vice-chair, Robert K. Weiss. CNN's Ali Velshi took the honors hosting on stage and Academy Award winner Robin Williams did a cha cha with Willow Garage's PR2 robot named "007." Business moguls Ratan N. Tata, Naveen Jain, YouTube's Chad Hurley and Steve Chen were among the guests who joined San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to honor the X PRIZE Foundation.

"I am very excited about what the X PRIZE team is accomplishing," said Larry Page, as he addressed the crowd early in the evening. "If we get organized and help people to focus on the right things that really matter, then we can solve a lot of the important problems that exist in the world. It's really amazing to see what's possible."

Later in the evening, Google's Sergey Brin addressed the crowd from Utah via the screen of a Willow Garage Texai robot, "I think the X PRIZE Foundation in many ways allows basic concepts and ideas to come to fruition, only much faster than they would on their own without the X PRIZE competitions."

Glenn Renwick, President and CEO of The Progressive Corporation, title sponsor of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE (PIAXP), echoed Brin's advocacy of prizes. "At Progressive we want to make a difference. Our partnership with the X PRIZE Foundation is an opportunity for us to do just that and it's been quite fantastic. I look forward to writing the check to the winners of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, because it's one of the best things we can do in the private sector to make a difference."

During the night, special guests like Marissa Mayer and Zack Bogue, Trevor and Alexis Traina and Jacqueline and David Sacks were able to get behind the wheel of some of the PIAXP competition cars from Aptera, Commuter Cars and ZAP. Other notable guests including Bita Daryabari, Mark Pincus, Dr. Dean Ornish and Ron Conway were able to interact with guests Esther Dyson, Sergey Brin and Tony Robbins located in places such as Utah and Prague via tele-presence robots that roamed the cocktail reception. The event was attended by more than 400 of the who's who from San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Included in the auction items was a seat on Virgin Galactic, won by singer and actress, Sarah Brightman. Scott Hassan, founder of Willow Garage -- and master of the experimental robots that roamed the room -- offered the highest bid to be among the first to have his genome fully sequenced by the winning team of the Archon Genomics X PRIZE. In an improvisational moment, Robin Williams took the stage and challenged attendees to collectively match his pledge to purchase the last available replica of SpaceShipOne, the rocket designed by Burt Rutan, which won the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. Answering the call were Scott Hassan and Dan Miller, Managing Director of The Roda Group. The trio intends to donate the spacecraft replica to the Chabot Space & Science Museum in Oakland, California. And, one of the first commercially available ICON A5 amphibious aircraft was won by X PRIZE Trustee, Rob McEwen, Chairman and CEO of US Gold and Lexam Explorations.

"The success of this event would not have been possible without the incredible support of the benefit co-chairs and committee members as well as the attendees and our Foundation partners BT and Cisco," said Peter Diamandis. "It is through their tireless efforts, dedication and desire to create a better future, that we will be able to make the impossible possible."

The benefit followed a two-day "Visioneering" meeting where 75 of the world's top experts and thought leaders in the fields of Exploration, Energy & Environment, Life Sciences, Education & Global Development gathered to discuss today's toughest challenges. By applying the X PRIZE incentivized innovation model, the group was able to identify key areas where an incentivized competition could unlock critical breakthroughs that could benefit the world.

The leading ideas from the Visioneering workshop included: designing low-cost housing for the more than 1 billion people living without shelter; developing an artificial intelligence physician that can diagnose people in areas where there is no healthcare or access is limited; creating a new generation of autonomous cars that will make automotive transportation safer and more efficient; and mitigating the pollution caused by plastics that is choking our oceans.

"These Visioneering sessions have been amazing," said Robert K. Weiss. "It is powerful to contemplate that many of the innovations some consider to be wildly speculative stuff of science fiction will be realized by harnessing the human spirit to compete."

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating and conducting competitions in four prize groups: Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, and Education & Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit

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