Do you have a $25,000 idea?

The 21st century has presented us with many exceptional challenges, from resource protection and sustainability practices to energy conservation, as well as knowledge sharing and privacy preservation. Our ability to meet these challenges and improve the quality of life for Californians will require creative solutions — innovation will be the key to our success.

In 2011, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the “Experimental Crowd-Derived Combat Support Vehicle Design Challenge” with a $7,500 prize. More than 150 submissions came in during the month-long contest, which was ultimately won by Victor Garcia, who was working an entry-level job at a truck manufacturer. Within 14 weeks, his prototype was built and delivered, with keys, to President Obama.

That’s why I introduced Assembly Bill 2138, a bill that creates up to a $25,000 prize for Californians who provide intellectual property to solve a specific problem or otherwise streamline a system within a state agency. AB 2138 was signed into law in September 2014 by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.

California’s “$25K Find a New Way” contest will reward actual intellectual property, not just vague ideas. As in the DARPA example, the agency did not acquire a mere idea (i.e., “you should build a new combat transport”), but actual intellectual property (plans and blueprints) that would normally cost millions of dollars and a significant amount of time.

Now, as a result of my AB 2138, the Dept. of Transportation, the Dept. of  Alcoholic Beverage Control, and the Dept. of General Services will be holding “$25K Find a New Way” innovation contests to facilitate solutions for some of the state’s most pressing challenges. Submit your idea before Oct. 13, 2015 at Winners will be announced by Dec. 31, 2015.

This is a remarkable opportunity to cultivate California innovation. The people of California are creative, resourceful and innovative. Incentives like this showcase Californians’ creative solutions to resolving the inefficiencies of government. I look forward to seeing your submissions.


Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, and the longest-serving current member of the state assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake. Follow him on Twitter @MikeGatto or visit