Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Innovate to accumulate!

Image: Wikimedia Commons.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

As we start another new year people often resolve to do things better than in the old one. And as we continue to face global cash-strapped and financially-straitened times, one resolution for an under-valued botanist might be to make a bit more money. Well, phytological money-making ideas are often few and far between, but allow me to share one such with you. An award of $50,000 (presumably that’s US Dollars, which is approximately 32,000 in real money – GBP) is offered for the challenge of improving the nutritional value of plant tissue. That particular gauntlet has been laid down by InnoCentive – ‘an “open innovation” company that takes research and development problems in a broad range of domains such as… life sciences… and frames them as “challenge problems” for anyone to solve them. It gives cash awards for the best solutions to solvers who meet the challenge criteria’. Sound like your kind of thing? Prepared to pick up the gauntlet? Well, you’re too late! The deadline has passed – it was 19th December 2011. Another passed deadline is that of $7,000 for identifying novel natural sources for the extraction of xanthophyll carotenoid pigments with the potential to produce commercial quantities (>500 tons/year). Sorry, but sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. So, what have you learnt from this painful lesson? To be more pro-active in future in your search for extra income streams! To avoid further disappointment, you might consider regularly browsing the aptly named Challenge browser on the InnoCentive website. A Happier – and more prosperous? – New Year to all our readers!

Nigel Chaffey

I am a botanist and former Senior Lecturer in Botany at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany I contributed the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ - and to Botany One - for almost 10 years. I am now a freelance plant science communicator and Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Spa University. I continue to share my Cuttingsesque items - and appraisals of books with a plant focus - with a plant-curious audience. In that guise my main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way) others about plants and plant-people interactions, and thereby improve humankind's botanical literacy. Happy to be contacted to discuss potential writing - or talking - projects and opportunities.
[ORCID: 0000-0002-4231-9082]

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