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Mini Moonshots

by  David Dwyer on  09/02/2015    1051 Reads

Solverforx.com - a new way for supporting innovative projects

The other day I stumbled across a site unlike any other I've found: https://www.solveforx.com/.  The site is powered by Google, as part of their Corporate Responsibility package.  Solve For X is "a community of scientists, inventors, engineers, artists, thinkers, doers, the young, the wise, men and women from every background across every geography connected by a shared optimism that science and technology can cause radically positive things to happen in the world".

Together and separately they are coming up with big ideas to solve problems of all sizes that affect humanity everywhere.  A chemist is developing a way of avoiding having to keep vaccines refrigerated.  A geneticist is working on mapping the genome of food plants in Africa, so that the best plants can be propagated and children will no longer grow up stunted.  A microbiologist is working on a way to get round the resistance pathogens have developed to antibiotics.  These are all solutions to major, world-wide problems.

A biologist is using a technique known as DNA origami to create nano-robots that can move inside the body.  Someone else is designing motion-sensitive heaters that heat individuals instead of wasting the heat on the structure of the building.  An engineer is working on soft mobile robots.  These projects may not appear to address worldwide crises but behind each one there's a serious problem and a desire to solve it using science, technology and inspiration.

Each idea or proposal is known in Solve For X terminology as a moonshot and its proposer is known as a pioneer.  To be accepted, a pioneer has to consider a big, global problem and provide a radical new solution, perspective or approach to it using breakthrough science or technology that allows the solution to become a reality.  There has to be scientific or technical proof  that the concept could work, and a roadmap of how the project will unfold.  This is not just pie in the sky.  It's cutting edge humanitarianism.

Solve For X arranges meetings where moonshot proposers get the chance to put forward their proposals for group discussion and feedback, possibly generating new ideas but mainly helping to spread the word.  Like the ripples in a pond, you never know where that information and those ideas will finish up: possibly a whole new project may be born out of the discussion.  If so, another Google project, Google Ventures, may be the answer to launching it - but that's another story for another time.

I had imagined Solve For X was going to be a crowd-funding set-up, and that there'd be a request for some sort of financial input, but the site doesn't mention funding at all.  There's a tab for "Contribute" but even the "Help a moonshot happen" sub-tab just tells you how to sign up and what the projects are.  That's very refreshing.  They may be missing a trick but by the sound of it these projects all have funding: some of them have been ongoing for several years already.

Go and have a look - but be warned: it's very easy to spend a lot of time on this site if you're an intelligent, enquiring sort of person.  Highly recommended.

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David's academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.
 

Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos

 

 

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