On November 12, 1713 the Parliament of Great Britain passed An Act for Providing a Publick Reward for Such Person or Persons as Shall Discover the Longitude at Sea. This was duly published in 1714.
One of the most famous early examples of government incentive for scientific research, this Act of Parliament established a reward of £20,000 for anyone who could invent a reliable and practicable method of finding longitude at sea to within half a degree, with lesser prizes offered for ways of finding it to within one degree and within forty minutes. The Act also established a permanent body of Commissioners, known as the Board of Longitude, to evaluate the merits of all proposed methods, award the prizes and provide research grants of up to £2,000. Despite the incentive provided by the enormous first prize, the problem, which had baffled navigators for centuries, remained unsolved for nearly fifty years, until John Harrison invented the first accurate marine chronometer in the 1760s.
Baillie, Clocks & Watches: An Historical Bibliography (1951) 140-141, Gould, The Marine Chronometer: Its History and Development (1960) 1-17. Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science (1964) no. 42a. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 2.