The release of the human genome sequence via the Human Genome Project is said to have led to the creation of 500 new drugs currently waiting for approval by the FDA. President Obama had models like this one in mind when he announced the launch of data.gov last week.
The goal of the site is to make government more open and transparent, and “to improve access to Federal data and expand creative use of those data beyond the walls of government by encouraging innovative ideas (e.g., web applications).”
The Sunlight Foundation wasted no time in announcing their incentive for innovative web applications using data.gov information. It announced a $10,000 prize in their contest Apps for America 2; the data.gov challenge.
For information about why the release of this Federal data is a good thing, see the Wired wiki here.