"So we're asking users to come up with the best ideas to help the world and we're going to support it with $10 million of funding to help the best ideas come to reality," Google product manager Dylan Casey said.
Google has suggested seven categories in which fresh ideas could have a broad and positive impact on people's lives. Some of the categories include health, education and energy; but they have also created an eighth category for any solution under the sun because, as they say on the contest Web site, "sometimes the best ideas don't fit into any category at all."
It is possible some ideas could come from the Stanford University campus. That is where Google's co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page first met in 1995.
Manish Kumar is impressed by the birthday project.
"It spurs innovation," Kumar said. "It lets people who don't have the funding in place to have a good idea and put that idea into motion."
The company provided two examples for people looking for hints as to ideas Google thinks are cool.
The Hippo Water Roller is a relatively inexpensive 24-gallon container developed in Africa that is helping transport water faster and easier than other methods.
Google is also impressed with the work of First Mile Solutions, which is implementing simple, but effective ideas to connect isolated communities in developing countries to the Internet.
Google is soliciting ideas for the contest through October 20.
"I think this project very much embodies what we'd like to do for the future and that really is around empowering users to do things that are important to everybody," Casey said.
The public will have the opportunity to vote on potential ideas before up to five winning ideas are selected and share the $10 million in funding.