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Valuing Your Talent - a £10,000 public prize fund launched this month - renews the RSA’s historic association with open innovation.

By the mid-18th century, the British textile industry had just one hurdle left to overcome: colour. Red dye came from the plant, Madder, which had never taken root in Britain’s cool climate. As a result, dye had to be imported, or unfinished cloth had to be exported, depriving the economy of much of the value of the finished product.

In 1754, the Society of Arts’ first act was to address this problem. Grounded in a belief that great ideas could come from anywhere, they offered a cash Premium to any member of the public who could grow Madder on British soil. The Premium spurred on a generation of agriculturalists: within 20 years, Madder became a feature of the British landscape, and British-dyed textiles would go on to dominate the global market.


The new RSA Premium 

By contrast, in today’s ‘Knowledge Economy’, no physical substance is critical to economic success. Instead, it is only a skilled workforce that can guarantee a healthy, dynamic economy, responsive to the constant changes in markets and technology. 

Yet on corporate balance sheets, people - our biggest assets - appear only as costs. We urgently need a new way for businesses to recognise the value of talent, so as to encourage the investment in people which will drive long-term prosperity and wellbeing.

Valuing Your Talent seeks to address this challenge by reviving the proud tradition of Premiums. We have provided a host of inspiration materials and, guided by the egalitarian principles of our founders, are offering £10,000 in rewards for the development of these materials into a practical tool for businesses.

We invite anyone, from any background, to register at and be part of the solution to a 21st century challenge.  

The application process is now closed

The picture above is a design submission to a previous RSA premium from 1834 which asked for solutions to public safety. The fire ladder you can see isn't very different to the ladders used by fire fighters today.   


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