Famed Silicon Valley investor and gun reform advocate Ron Conway is spearheading a new $1 million prize for gun safety technology. The prize, which was announced last fall, is now taking applications.
Unlike the more popular prize models, such as the X-Prize commercial space flight competition, the Smart Tech Foundation prize will split the winnings among projects deemed worthy by a panel of judges.
The technology the prize would reward would ideally make guns both harder to abuse and easier to track.
Yardarm, for instance, automatically recognizes movement of a gun and notifies its users via smartphone. Other tech includes biometric sensors that may make it more difficult for a child to accidentally fire a weapon.
“By incentivizing innovation, we are working with the firearms community, instead of against them, to find real and lasting solutions together,” Conway writes to me. “Technology can drive markets and market niches. We believe that if consumers would like to purchase a personalized firearm to help keep their family safe, they should have that option.”
Conway helped seed a special investment portfolio for accelerating funds to gun safety tech, but it was apparently insufficient.
“We have created an investment committee to invest in companies that are market-ready, but found that this space is so under-capitalized that there weren’t a lot of companies that were at that stage,” he explains. “The prize is a way of incentivizing innovators to enter this space, and providing support for those who are already in it to get market-ready. We’re trying to attract innovators from all over the world and provide them with support they need to navigate through the innovation life cycle. “
Prize competitions are known for injecting many multiples of the money normally given through investment. Not only is each team putting in their own funds, but they often spend more than the total purse, because winning can lead to fame and/or more investment.
Check out the foundation’s website here.