VC prizes, and rocket scientists turn green

xprize.bmpThe X Prize Foundation, a group advancing safe travel in space, is soliciting venture capitalists to offer million-dollar prizes to generate ideas from entrepreneurs. It’s having a fund-raiser at Google.

The New York Times has the story, which provides a summary some of the other VC-related competitions out there. Such competitions have a long history in Silicon Valley. There are many more such competitions, not mentioned (VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson has regular business plan competitions, for example; Charles River Ventures recently held its Entrepreneur Idol competition, and plans one at Berkeley)

Two years ago, the X Prize Foundation awarded a $10 million prize to Mojave Aerospace Ventures for the flight of SpaceShipOne — launched by aerospace designer Burt Rutan and financier Paul Allen.

Seperate, but related: Six California rocket scientists have founded a green technology company to build a zero-emissions power plant, and looking for $100 million in capital, according to VentureWire (sub required).

The former scientists from Aerojet have designed a plant that combusts fuel with oxygen to create electric power. They want to isolate the resulting carbon dioxide waste stream, and pump it underground into saline structures. Called Clean Energy Systems, the company has $13 million in a first round of funding to pursuse the idea.

Backers of the Rancho Cordova, Calif. company are Southern California Gas Co., and Canadian investors Paxton Corp. and Quadrise Canada Corp., both based in Calgary, Canada, VentureWire said.