Google's 10th Birthday Present: World-Changing Ideas
By Barry Levine
September 25, 2008 2:17PM
Google is celebrating its 10th birthday with Project 10^100, an endeavor that will commit $10 million to backing ideas to improve the world. Google's Project 10^100 will accept ideas big and small, from all walks of life. Analysts see Google's Project 10^100 as both a savvy and altruistic move, and say Project 10^100 will benefit Google's image.
For its birthday, what do you give the company that has everything? In Google's case, the Internet giant is asking for only five presents, but each has the same qualification: Each one must help to change the world.
On Wednesday, Google announced its 10th birthday celebration endeavor, called Project 10^100 (pronounced "Project 10 to the 100th"). In a statement, the company said it was "asking our users to send us exciting ideas for ways to improve people's lives," adding that it has "committed $10 million to turn up to five of the best ideas into reality."
Five Ideas Selected for Funding
The company said that an idea could use technology or not, could be big or small, but it must have an impact. The 100 best ideas will then be identified, and users will be asked to vote on which ideas the company should back with funds.
The deadline for submission of ideas is October 20, and the top 20 ideas will be available for online voting on January 27. After that, a panel of judges will choose as many as five of the ideas for final funding.
On the company's official blog, Andy Berndt, managing director of Google's Creative Lab, noted that we are living in a time when people have access to more information, more tools, and more ways of turning good ideas into action.
"Yet," he wrote, "at the same time so many people (in all walks of life) could use some help, in small ways and big." The ideas could come from anywhere, he said -- a lab, a company, a university, or even "some small connection you've noticed, some old way of doing something that you've seen with new eyes."
'Savvy Business Move'
The company mentioned a few examples of the kinds of innovative ideas it's looking for. The Hippo Water Roller makes it possible for people in underdeveloped countries to collect five times as much water as the traditional method of carrying a five-gallon bucket on the head. Instead of causing damage to the spine, neck and knees of the water carrier, as the traditional head-carrying method can, the Roller allows the larger water bucket to be rolled instead of carried.
First Mile Solutions, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and derived from research at MIT, uses Wi-Fi and digital storage to create "cached Wi-Fi intelligence" that is helping to connect rural communities worldwide, at a very low cost per user.
Google said it would be considering ideas in the categories of Community, Opportunity, Energy, Environment, Health, Education and Shelter, as well as "Everything Else."
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Corps, described Google's birthday present to itself as "a savvy business move," as well as an altruistic one.
She noted that more and more companies are looking to the public to submit ideas via the Internet, and this one in particular emphasizes Google's "sense of inclusiveness, of being green, of trying to make the world a better place," which will benefit its image to the public.