The world’s two leading internet giants have set aside their rivalries and joined forces to set up the most lucrative science prize in history which is more than double the value of the Nobel Prize.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are working alongside Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki to create the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences worth USD 3 million. The project’s aim is to reward research aimed at extending human life.
The annual science prizes over the past year are worth USD 3 million apiece. That is more than twice the cash that accompanies a Nobel prize, the awards with which they are inevitably compared.
In the first round of awards 11 scientists were awarded a total of USD 33 million but going forward an annual amount of USD 15 million will be set aside for five prize winners, The Independent reported.
"Priscilla and I are honoured to be part of this. We believe the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences has the potential to provide a platform for other models of philanthropy, to people everywhere has an opportunity at a better future," Zuckerberg was quoted by France 24 as saying.
Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner asked the group to create the award after deciding to model a prize on a physics award he set up in 2012. To top the line-up of internet greats behind the prize, Apple chairman Art Levinson is heading up the board.
Prize-winner Cornelia Bargmann, 51, said, "I had to sit down for a while, I thought it must be a practical joke. The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences."