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Summary:

Is it possible that the best ideas to fight global warming will come from the garages of the masses, not cultivated in universities or by elite venture capitalists? Google thinks so, and the search engine giant is asking the public to start voting on Tuesday for […]

Is it possible that the best ideas to fight global warming will come from the garages of the masses, not cultivated in universities or by elite venture capitalists? Google thinks so, and the search engine giant is asking the public to start voting on Tuesday for the do-gooder ideas that have been submitted to its contest “Project 10 to the 100th.” [Update: Bummer, Google just pushed back the date of the public voting until March 17th]

Google asked inventors to start submitting ideas via YouTube video clip to the contest back in October, and after receiving over 100,000 submissions, tomorrow Google will release 100 of the top ideas — things like a new wind turbine and energy-efficient buildings materials. It’s our job to whittle those ideas down to 20, and then a Google advisory board will select five semi-finalists that will split $10 million to get the ideas implemented.

The inventions don’t necessarily have to do with fighting climate change, but looking through the submissions, many of them do. Google has divided the submissions into a variety of categories: community, opportunity, energy, environment, health, education, shelter and “every else.” The best ideas will be selected based on how many people the invention can help, and how quick and easy it is to implement the idea.

Google has spent more than its fair share on philanthropy with Google.org, as well as investing in clean energy projects — in one quarter Google was the second most active investor in cleantech after funding five startups.

But it’s also particularly interesting that Google is using its massive search engine and YouTube user base to deliver a new way of finding entrepreneurs, and the submissions are meant to be from individuals, not organizations. While contests, like the Auto X prize, are becoming increasingly common, Google is in the unique position of already having a network that can deliver a cheap and efficient way to connect with budding entrepreneurs. And the voting process is cheap too: us.

As Google says:

Never in history have so many people had so much information, so many tools at their disposal, so many ways of making good ideas come to life.

So the upside of this method is a greater access to ideas and entrepreneurs across the globe, as well as the project being pretty cheap. The downside is the quality of the ideas. These are basically everyday people submitting inventions, like Uncle Larry’s big idea that he won’t stop talking about during the holidays. But ultimately Google is hoping that with over 100,000 submissions, there’ll find at least five elegant, simple ideas that can help people. (For more on how/if the web can effect social change to fight global warming, come to our Green:Net conference in San Francisco in March).

  1. [...] Google’s Top “Do-Gooders” to Be Announced Tomorrow; video contest asked the masses to come up with the next great idea, many of them have to do with climate change and you can vote for your favorite. (Earth2Tech) [...]

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  2. Thank you for the update!

    I’m trying to be the source of one of such ideas “from the garages of the masses”…unfortunately, I’ve been so focused on research and such, this opportunity slipped beneath the radar.

    As far as I can see, the technology is there to take a large chunk out of the human generated greenhouse-gas problem while avoiding sequestration, and resulting in marketable commodities (energy included), to boot, to offset costs.

    If you have a moment to answer a few questions regarding how far an individual could/should go, please visit my blog — I’ve posed six questions, beginning at http://sumofprimes.blogspot.com/2009/01/poll-how-far-should-i-personally-go-to.html

    Depending on the feedback, I’ll refine my questions to better gauge what approach people feel is best.

    Hopefully I won’t have my nose buried in data when the next such opportunity arises.

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  3. Great post! I used it as a starting point for my own upcoming post on the environmental blog Super Eco. (http://www.supereco.com)
    Thanks!

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  4. Sorry but due to the now reported 150,000 applications Google is having to delay its announcement of 100 finalists. Now saying it will be March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day – suitable for the end of the rainbow pot of gold they’re offering to the 5 winners.

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  5. Tom, Yeah, saw that, too bad, we’ll just have to wait. I updated the post.

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  6. I submitted my idea of making global family connections after all family matters for everyone.This is my personal website and not an organisation.As i was not aware of ‘you tube’ I did not submit through it.

    Let me know wheather my idea is considered for idea contest.

    Thank you

    T.Babu
    Bangalore,India

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  7. Well, it is now over 6 months since the March 17th deadline for voting. I have not heard one whimper from Google about the voting, has anyone? I’m of the opinion that the project has been quietly abandoned. Will Google dare comment?

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  8. I’m afraid I too heard about this contest too late. I have developed what others have told me is not so much an idea, but rather an elegant solution to not only the problem of the environment but also the economy, our infastructure, and even an impact on terrorism with our current technology.

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