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NEW YORK, NY – Despite the tragedy that the Gulf oil spill has caused, there are still a few bright spots!

There is no understating the damage that the Gulf oil spill has caused. Wildlife is being threatened, fishermen have lost their jobs and cleanup efforts cannot keep up with the damage. “The Oil Cleanup X Challenge” is trying to put a positive spin on the catastrophe.

In an effort to fuel the creative minds out there and aid in the cleanup efforts, the X Prize Foundation has announced a high stakes invention challenge. They have solicited the public for their best solutions for cleaning up the oil spill and in return they will present $1.4 million in prizes.

The competition is a year-long event designed to cull the best oil-removal suggestions from your average joe to the brightest of minds.

“I got involved in this challenge because I felt it was the most constructive thing I could do,” Wendy Schmidt, the competition’s sponsor told ABC News. “We have a responsibility to clean up the mess that we’re making.”

Schmidt, wife of billionaire Google CEO Erich Schmidt and president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, has pledged to give $1 million to the winning idea.

Second and third place finishers will receive $300,000 and $100,000 respectively.

Individuals will have the next year to submit their proposals, which will be judged by a panel of experts.

According to the company’s website, first place will go to “the team that demonstrates the ability to recover oil on the sea surface at the highest oil recovery rate and the highest Recovery Efficiency.”

While the BP oil spill has done its damage, this competition is aimed at hopefully establishing methods to address any future mishaps.

“Our focus is future disasters,” she said.