Press release

XPRIZE and California Governor Gavin Newsom Partner to Design an Incentive Prize for Innovation to Battle Wildfires

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the global leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to
solve humanity’s grand challenges, has announced a collaboration with
California Governor Gavin Newsom, to design an XPRIZE competition that
would drive innovation and develop hardware able to rapidly detect and
extinguish wildfires. XPRIZE will work in collaboration with a number of
stakeholders, including the Governor’s team, to design this important
XPRIZE over the next several months while also actively seeking sponsors
to underwrite the prize purse and operations.

“Wildfires cause damage to human lives and billions of dollars in
property loss each year yet there has been shockingly little innovation
in this space,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, XPRIZE founder and
executive chairman. “XPRIZE wants to reinvent what has been an old form
of firefighting. This competition hopes to leverage cutting edge
sensors, networks, artificial intelligence, robotics and material
sciences to both detect wildfires at their earliest inception and
extinguish them before they spread.”

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, across the U.S. in
2018, 55,911 fires burnt over 8,582,609 acres of land, an area larger
than the state of Maryland. Since 2015, California has seen ten of the
most destructive wildfires in the state’s history. To unlock innovation
in this space, XPRIZE aims to ultimately launch a competition by early

“Harnessing the power of competition to drive innovation, the XPRIZE
will focus on solutions to the existential threat of wildfires,” said
California Governor Gavin Newsom. “I am proud to stand with XPRIZE as
they launch this competition. The XPRIZE will complement California’s
spirit of innovation and promote leading-edge solutions to address

The funding to develop this XPRIZE concept, including the background
research, the development of competition rules and operating guidelines,
was provided by Dr. Richard Merkin, CEO of Heritage Group and a longtime
XPRIZE benefactor and Vision Circle member.

“I’ve long since been inspired by the XPRIZE model and truly believe
that competition and collaboration are key to innovation, and it takes
all of us working together, across different sectors and industries, to
truly make a difference,” said Merkin. “It’s an honor to be a part of
this project and I’m excited for all that’s to come.”

To get involved, visit


XPRIZE designs and operates multi-million-dollar, global competitions to
incentivize the development of technological breakthroughs that
accelerate humanity toward a better future. Our mission is to inspire
and empower a global community of problem-solvers to positively impact
our world. We believe solutions to the world’s problems can come from
anyone, anywhere.

Active competitions include the $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the
$15 Million Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE,
the $7 Million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, and the $5 Million IBM
Watson AI XPRIZE. For more information, visit