Looks like Bruce Schneier is going to throw his hat in the global crypto arena yet again and design a new hash algorithm. Bruce is an insanely smart guy, and really knows his crypto, so I look forward to seeing what his group will come up with. He talks about the last crypto contest he entered:
The AES competition was the most fun I've ever had in cryptography. Think of it as a giant cryptographic demolition derby: A bunch of us put our best work into the ring, and then we beat on each other until there was only one standing. It was really more academic and structured than that, but the process stimulated a lot of research in block-cipher design and cryptanalysis. I personally learned an enormous amount about those topics from the AES competition, and we as a community benefited immeasurably.