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Scott proposes $10M ‘Risk Taker’ technology prize

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

Rolling out part of his re-election platform, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday proposed offering a $10 million prize that would reward people who devise new technology to address challenges confronting Florida.

The Risk Taker Reward, funded through state and private dollars, was announced as Scott discussed parts of his platform dealing with small businesses and job creation.

It came after Scott promised last week that, if re-elected, he’d spend $300 million during his second term for upgrades at most of the state’s 15 seaports.

Few details were immediately available about how the entrepreneur contest would be administered.

According to information posted on Scott’s campaign Facebook page, the prize would go to a Florida-based entity, non-profit or for-profit, that uses private capital to successfully tackle issues such as “water supply and quality issues, transportation and infrastructure, and medical breakthroughs in cancer and other diseases.”

The campaign drew comparisons between the prize and a $25,000 reward offered in 1919 by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig to the first aviators to fly non-stop from New York to Paris and to the $10 million “X Prize” offered in 1996 to the first non-governmental organization to twice within two weeks launch a reusable manned spacecraft.

The Orteig award was won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

The “X Prize” was won in 2004 by the SpaceShipOne venture, which was financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

In addition to the Risk Taker Reward, Scott on Tuesday also proposed teaming with the state’s universities and colleges on an annual business-plan competition.

The business-plan program, which would offer cash prizes, would be intended to “incentivize start-ups and innovative businesses” around the schools, according to the Scott campaign.

When asked about Scott’s proposals, a spokesman for potential Democratic gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist replied, “The real risk in this election is allowing Rick Scott another shot at defunding education and hurting more middle class Floridians.”

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