I believe that we should be using prizes to help innovate and combat the coronavirus, says Tyler Cowen, one of the founders of the blog Marginal Revolution.
– When are prizes better than grants? The case for prizes is stronger when you don’t know who is likely to make the breakthrough, you value the final output more than the process, there is an urgency to solutions (talent development is too slow), success is relatively easy to define, and efforts and investments are likely to be undercompensated. All of these apply to the threat from the coronavirus.
– We do not know who are the most likely candidates to come up with the best tests, the best remedies and cures, the best innovations in social distancing, and the best policy proposals. Anyone in the world could make a contribution to the anti-virus effort and it won’t work to just give a chunk of money to say Harvard or MIT, he writes on the blog.
– The innovators, medical professionals and policy people at work on this issue are unlikely to receive anything close to the full social value of their efforts. I therefore am grateful that I have been able to raise a new chunk of money for Emergent Ventures — a project of the Mercatus Center — for ex post prizes (not grants) for those who make progress in coronavirus problems.
Emergent Ventures is distributing over $1 million in prize money for work combating the new coronavirus. Prizes are awarded when significant success is spotted.
One of the recipients of these coronavirus prizes last week was Debes Hammershaimb Christiansen, head of department at the National Reference Laboratory for Fish and Animal Diseases in Tórshavn. Debes Hammershamb Christiansen adapted his veterinary lab to test for disease among humans, and he’s being celebrated for helping the Faroe Islands avoid coronavirus deaths and test a larger proportion of the population than anywhere else in the world. Read more in this article from The Guardian.
About Marginal Revolution
Marginal Revolution is the blog of Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, both of whom teach at George Mason University, Virginia, USA. MR began in August of 2003 and there have been new posts daily since that time. In numerous reviews and ratings over the years Marginal Revolution has consistently been ranked as the best or one of the best economic blogs on the web.