Teenagers have the radical X games. Environmentally minded adults have the X Prize, which is an annual competition that spans several categories of radical technology innovation, including Energy & Environment.
Now, Cisco has managed to finagle a presenting sponsorship for the non-profit X Prize Foundation's Energy & Environment Group. What this means, in a nutshell, is that Cisco will have a seat at the table (actually three executives on the advisory board) when it comes to developing future ideas for development and prizes in this area.
Right now, the X Prize Foundation is considering prizes related to water resource managemnt, energy distribution and storage, clean energy, energy efficiency, and technologies for measuring climate change. Other specific areas that are under consideration for future competitions include clean aviation fuels (there's a Federal Aviation Administration grant tied to this) and second-generation distributed biofuel production technologies.
The current competition, which will culminated in September 2010, is a collaboration with the Department of Energy and Progressive Auto that focuses on super-efficient vehicles that can get at least 100 miles per gallon. Close to 70 percent of the cars that have been entered are running off electricity. The prize is a cool $10 million.
Given Cisco's history of acquisitions, it's not inconceivable that it could end up snapping up some of the technologies that it is exposed to via the X Prize, which I'm guessing is one reason for its sponsorship.