"If something's important enough you should try. Even if the probable outcome is failure."
In other words, -- if value is large, the expected value is still large, even if the probability is small. Unfortunately, today, insurance industry is only considering the bad things of low probability that are important enough, not the good things. We insure against catastrophes, ill health, and car accidents. We don't insure ourselves from our stupidity -- namely, from what would happen if we miss an important invention or technological breakthrough. What happens if coming up with a viable cryoprotectant is 5 years later than it would be if we gave incentive? What happens if emergency vascular pump is brought a year later than it would be if we incentivized for it?
These questions can be answered based on general statistics. 150K people die every day, and approx. 20K from ischaemic heart disease. So, these are the people we could save every day. We could compute very specific losses if technological breakthrough does not happen.
Prize foundations is a good start for such incentives. However, this perhaps is not enough, and probably not the right way to do it. Usually, prize sizes are relatively arbitrary, depending more on the desire of possible donors than a rational computation of expected loss on an event. However, they could be calculated, based on expected loss with respect to late implementation of ideas.
We should reform the insurance industry to insure against the late implementation of great ideas.