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Innovation Inducement Prizes: At the National Science Foundation
and development outcomes will demand of NSF a broader than usual understanding of the scope of its mission relating to innovation.
The committee recommends that NSF embrace the House Appropriations Committee’s challenge as an opportunity to explore a new mode of research and innovation support that may prove valuable for the country as well as for the agency. It is by no means clear that the founders of NSF more than a half century ago appreciated fully the range of mechanisms that NSF could productively employ in mobilizing the nation’s scientific and technical talent in the exploitation of the “endless frontier” of science. Experimentation with an inducement prize program, like all good research, will yield both anticipated and unanticipated outcomes, some positive and some not so positive. It is with this perspective in mind that the committee offers in the remainder of this report a set of observations and recommendations on the establishment and operation of an NSF innovation inducement prize program that, at least at the outset, will be experimental.