In two separate moves to encourage innovative thinking in science and technology, two of the biggest tech companies are sponsoring contests for big business and students.

Google Inc. has teamed with The X Prize Foundation to create the Google Lunar X Prize, a robotic race to the Moon to win $30 million. Private companies from around the world will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 m and sending video, images, and data back to Earth.

For youth, The Innovation America Foundation (IAF), with support from Apple Inc., developed the Voices of Innovation contest. IAF is working to motivate young people to pursue college degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math; educate parents about why it is important for their children to have 21st Century skills upon high school graduation; and promote innovation policies and strategies developed through the National Governors Association's Innovation America initiative.

The Google Lunar X Prize international competition will challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. For more details on the competition and its deadlines, visit www.googlelunarxprize.org.

The Voices of Innovation contest invited teams of high school students to submit 45-second videos showcasing the future of American innovation. Students were prompted with the following question: “How can you improve your world through innovation?” Winners will be announced December 17. To view the videos describing what future engineers think, visit www.edcommunity.apple.com/innovation.