Prize philanthropy's roots go back to the Longitude Act when Parliament rewarded the creator of a measurement of longitude at sea, and giving prizes continues.

"Philanthropists are increasingly turning to prize philanthropy to reward innovation and have an impact in a sector. This month, Billionaire spoke to Dr Lui Che Woo about his latest cause, the Lui Prize for World Civilisation, which offers three annual awards of HK$60 million (around US$7.75 million) to philanthropic projects. 

"He is following in the footsteps of other famous billionaire philanthropists, including Steve and Jean Case, and Bill and Melinda Gates in the US, who have offered rewards to pioneers conceiving bright ideas to improve the world. 

"Despite the recent interest in prize philanthropy, the use of public competitions to stimulate innovation has a much longer history. The British Parliament held a contest to find a solution to working out the longitude of a ship at sea, which resulted in the invention of the marine chronometer in the 18th century. Napoléon Bonaparte held a contest for the best idea in food preservation (with the goal of being able to easily feed his army). The winning entry was to seal food in airtight jars."--Peter Cafferkey, Billionaire