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Regeneron Searches for Talent

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is taking over the sponsorship of the prestigious Science Talent Search competition, the New York Times reports.

The high school science competition began during World War II and was initially sponsored by Westinghouse Electric, which made appliances as well as worked in nuclear power. Intel took over sponsorship in 1998 after Westinghouse was done in by bad loans, the Times adds. Intel, now itself struggling, said in September that it would be ending its support of the contest in 2017.

According to the Times, Regeneron has made a 10-year and $100 million commitment to the competition. It is increasing the top prize to $250,000 from $150,000 and is doubling the awards given to the top 300 finalists and their schools to $2,000 each. The company also plans to spend $30 million to reach out to potential contestants in underserved areas.

"This should be the best reality show in the world — we need these kinds of kids to save the planet," George Yancopoulos, Regeneron's founding scientist and president of its lab division, tells the Times. "The world has challenges like cancer, the Zika virus and global warming. We need to change who our heroes are."

Past talent search winners include Nobel Prize winners, university professors, and business executives. Yancopoulos himself placed fourth in 1976, the Times adds, and Reuters notes that his colleague Len Schleifer had competed some six years prior.