Truly amazing innovations from Google’s Solve for X platform

Quietly, behind the scenes, there’s a revolution occurring. It’s the kind of awe-inspiring, game-changing revolution that could make a difference to humanity. Not just fractionally, but on a massive scale.

Imagine, if you will, a community of audacious, progressive and fearless inventors and innovators brought together by one common goal: to attempt their “moonshot” idea that could solve complex global issues. Welcome to “Solve for X”; Google’s collaborative forum that’s pushing the innovation envelope to the extreme.

What is Solve for X and what on earth is a moonshot?

What is Google solve for x

“Solve For X” is a place to hear about and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems. Radical in the sense that the solutions could help millions or billions of people; in the sense that the audacity of the proposals makes them sound like science fiction; and in the sense that there is some real technology breakthrough on the horizon indicating that these ideas could really be brought to life.

This combination of a huge problem to solve, a radical solution for solving it, and breakthrough technology to make it happen, is the essence of a technology moonshot. When Kennedy announced that the U.S. would put a man on the moon (without fully knowing how that might be practically achieved); that in its purest sense was a moonshot…quite literally.

What is solve for xGoogle explains: “Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; instead of mere 10% gains, they aim for 10x improvements. The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution, and the breakthrough technology that might just make that solution possible is the essence of a Moonshot.

“Great Moonshot discussions require an innovative mindset - including a healthy disregard for the impossible - while still maintaining a level of practicality,” they add.

Here at PIF, we did a spot of moon-gazing ourselves and picked out some of our favourite moonshot innovations. These three-minute films, by award-winning documentary makers, were captured for “Solve for X” partner GE for their Focus Forward; short films, big ideas series.

Solar highways

What if roads and highways were solar, fueling enough energy to power electric vehicles as well as nearby communities? A husband and wife team from the U.S. are driving that very idea forward.

View Solve for X video

The Bionic Eye

Dr. Joseph Rizzo and Prof. John Wyatt have pioneered a technology for restoring sight to patients who suffer from degenerative blindness.

View Solve for X video


Is the next Steve Jobs living in a remote Russian town? Meet Maxim, the young inventor of a truly jaw-dropping new technology with limitless applications that will eliminate the need for screens and monitors.

View Solve for X video

Mushroom Man

Can mushrooms save the world? In this infectious short by Oscar winner Leslie Iwerks, celebrated mycologist Paul Stamets demonstrates how fungi can "eat" radioactive waste, boost intelligence, and possibly treat disease such as smallpox and the flu.

View Solve for X video

You don’t know Jack

Jack Andraka, a high school sophomore, has developed a revolutionary new test for pancreatic cancer. The future of science is in the hands of our youth.

View Solve for X video

Fire with fire

Who would dare to pit one fatal disease against another… inside the body of a six-year-old patient? The results will shatter all expectations.

View Solve for X video

Feeling inspired? If you’ve seen or given a talk that you think matches the Solve For X criteria, email us at [email protected]


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