Did you know that margarine was invented in response to a contest arranged by Napoleon III?
Or that Lindbergh set off on his transatlantic flight in hopes of winning the $25,000 Orteig Prize?
Contests have been used as incentives for innovations of all kinds - from navigational tools used by seafarers in centuries past to advances in nanotechnology in recent years.
Contests generate excitement and promote teamwork, the competitive spirit and a sense of urgency in the application of new technologies. Prize money can help advance commercialization of new products and technologies, but it also builds immediate exposure to a range of creative and effective ideas by citizen-solvers.
These activities, combined with good work already underway in the state, will create jobs and businesses for West Virginia.
With the boom in shale gas drilling underway in our state and region, many opportunities exist for inventors, researchers, and problem-solvers of all stripes and ages to address the challenges presented in bringing this valuable natural resource to the earth's surface.
In an effort to encourage and support innovations in energy production and use, two innovation contests are upcoming.
* The TransTech Energy Conference, to be held Nov. 6-7 in Morgantown, will showcase new and emerging companies and technologies that meet the challenges of transitioning over the coming decades to a globally sustainable economy of the future.
Winners of last year's inaugural conference split a $25,000 award.
This year's event will include opportunities for entrepreneurs and researchers to pitch their company or project to investors, strategic partners, and project developers.
The term "TransTech" refers to transition technologies, strategies, apps and software. Examples include new chemical pathways for converting shale gas to low-cost chemical feedstocks, energy recycling for waste heat, new construction materials that improve energy efficiency, electricity storage technologies, remote sensors, new composite materials, and more.
Investors will see a wide range of transitional energy and environmental technology companies with near-term payback potential. Energy companies and manufacturers can develop strategic partnerships with startup companies at the TransTech Energy Conference.
For more information on attending the conference or making a pitch, visit www.transtech energy.org.