FAQs:

What is The Helena Prize?

The Helena Prize is a prize competition designed to change the world for the better. It is open to anyone under 30 years of age whose for-profit company will have a net-negative impact on the level of radiative forcing taking place within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Participants from around the world are given the opportunity to work with incredible partners to develop their products, technologies, and concepts. The winner of the prize will be supported by the Boston Consulting Group, Area 52, and the Helena Prize Advisory Board in their efforts to fully scale and deploy their product/concept/technology in the marketplace. In holding this competition, Helena aims to catalyze innovation in an area of particular importance to future generations.

What does the winner of The Helena Prize receive?

The winner of The Helena Prize will receive support from BCG, hands-on mentorship from the premier scientists and businesspeople in the field, access to Area 52’s facilities for hardware and software prototyping and concept evaluation, an invitation to join Helena as a member, and more.

After announcing the Prize, Helena will continue to build assets for its eventual winner. During the 10 months between announcing and awarding the Prize, we expect to add more advisors, partners, and opportunities.

Why is The Helena Prize limited to founders under the age of 30?

Helena consulted extensively with industry experts before implementing the prize’s age restrictions. The prize will focus on teams with a founder 30 years old or younger, or with a founder who was 30 years old or younger when their company was founded, provided the company is less than ten years old. We chose to do so for three reasons.

1. Climate change is a problem that will impact future generations gravely. We believe in supporting and empowering young people in their efforts to solve the problems of tomorrow.

2. Founders under the age of 30 are old enough to possess climate science expertise, but are unlikely to have built professional networks as robust as those of their older peers. The Helena Prize is therefore particularly well positioned to catalyze entrepreneurship among young founders.

3. As an organization, Helena believes in supporting youth, and youth entrepreneurship. To read more about Helena’s mission and vision, click here.

Why is The Helena Prize limited to for­-profit ventures?

Helena consulted extensively with industry experts before limiting the prize to for-profit enterprises. We chose to do so for two reasons:

1. Climate change is not going away. Because of this, technologies which combat climate change need to be able to stand on their own - regardless of the political, social, or philanthropic mores of the day. The best way to ensure that The Helena Prize’s winning team will be able to continue their work indefinitely is by trusting the self-sustaining engine of a successful business.

2. The most powerful potential solutions to climate change are not (yet) technological; they are sociological and governmental. Initiatives designed to pass strong legislation or reshape human behavior have the potential to do far more to reduce greenhouse gases than any one technology. However, we did not feel such initiatives could be accurately assessed prima facie in the same way as a business venture. Further, we felt The Helena Prize was more powerfully positioned to catalyze for-profit ventures than these types of initiatives.

What problems are participant companies aiming to solve?

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and many other prominent scientific institutions, levels of atmospheric carbon and other greenhouse gases have been steadily rising for the last one hundred years - far beyond levels considered healthy for our planet.

The resultant increase in radiative forcing is causing the planet to warm, which scientists predict will cause lasting damage to the planet and the biosphere. The Helena Prize aims to reward and accelerate the development of a technology or concept that will have the largest net negative impact on this phenomenon, while simultaneously being both scalable and profitable in the modern global marketplace.

News and Facts

The resultant increase in radiative forcing is causing the planet to warm, which scientists predict will cause lasting damage to the planet and the biosphere. The Helena Prize aims to reward and accelerate the development of a technology or concept that will have the largest net negative impact on this phenomenon, while simultaneously being both scalable and profitable in the modern global marketplace.

Are participants limited to any specific fields?

No. All for-profit products, technologies, and concepts are welcome, as long as a directly traceable link to reduced radiative forcing is plausible and definable.

What is Radiative Forcing?

Radiative forcing" is the most direct way to measure the measure the impact of global warming: it's defined as the difference between sunlight absorbed by Earth and reflected back into space, measured in Watts per square meter (W m^-2). Total added greenhouse gases have increased radiative forcing by about 1.5 to 2 Watts per square meter since pre-industrial times. Given how we typically aren't used to thinking in "W m^-2", climate change is mostly described in terms of "ppm" (parts per million) of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, or in terms of global average temperature changes.”

­ Dr. Gernot Wagner

In short, radiative forcing is a powerful proxy metric for the rate of global temperature increase, i.e. climate change. So to the extent we are looking for companies which lower global radiative forcing, we are looking for a (partial) solution to climate change. We are agnostic about direct vs indirect solutions. This is because even very indirect approaches - like starting a supply chain company that figures out how to reduce inefficiency in global agricultural transport - have the potential to cause a very large (beneficial) effect on climate change (and could therefore win the Helena Prize).

How much will it cost to compete?

The Helena Prize is free for all entrants.

How much equity does The Helena Prize take in the participating companies?

None.

What is Helena?

Helena is a networking group that acts for world progress. We have a simple goal: to convene leaders and address meaningful problems. Half of our members are under the age of 25, half are over, and each is from a different field.

Click here for more information.

Contacts

For general inquiries: 
info@helena.co 
For media inquiries: priscila@helena.co 
For partnerships and projects: ideas@helena.co
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