The Smart Money is on 6 Billion People solving the Problems that Matter

Posted by Dwayne Spradlin on Apr 2, 2009 8:46:58 AM

For me, "Open" Innovation embodies the notion that here in the new economy, marketplaces are emerging for ideas that will fundamentally challenge the conventional thinking in areas that include ideation, research, product development, collaboration, and even intellectual property.

In this brave new world, we don't seek to limit the number of minds focused on a problem to a select few, instead we enlist thousands or millions with a passion to make a difference. Diversity of thought and access to vast networks of qualified minds becomes the valuable currency replacing the closed monolithic approaches that literally define our organizations today. This "Open Innovation" reaches outside of the four walls and literally attracts, like a powerful magnet, everyone eager to participate in advancing the cause - solving the problem.

This approach will power rapid change in every segment of the economy:

Businesses will improve product development life cycles, production methods, and even evolve their own business models

Academia, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Foundations will harness a tremendous diversity of thinking and focus it toward problems of global impact; and

Governments will enlist thousands or millions of citizens in everything from disaster relief to reinventing government.

Imagine FEMA seeking immediately implementable solutions for housing after Hurricane Katrina; or Los Angeles seeking new approaches to reducing traffic congestion; or a corporation undertaking to design and deliver to market better products designed by scientists, entrepreneurs, and even their existing customers - none of whom may work for them. In this new world, Open Innovation Marketplaces will literally be the clearing houses for connecting myriads of needs to literally millions of creative, inventive, and "uniquely prepared" minds and organizations from all over the world.

At InnoCentive, we are committed to being at the forefront of this change. With a firmly held belief that incentives hold the key to harnessing and focusing the vast collective talent pools available worldwide, we will drive innovation everywhere there is the potential to make a difference. Hence the name: Innovation + Incentive = InnoCentive.

In the last eight years, we have continually tuned our model and produced extraordinary results. Today we service both "bounded" problems (very specific problems with precise solution criteria) and "unbounded" problems (open problems seeking new innovative ideas and approaches). Our "Solver" network is 170,000+ strong and growing by thousands per month. This talented network has delivered solutions to complex problems in science, technology, business, and philanthropy.

While focused initially on Challenges in life sciences, chemistry, and applied materials, we now routinely run Challenges in areas like business, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and even food science. Imagine thousands of engineers with a diversity of specialties all weighing in on improving battery life in laptops or improving Wi-Fi antenna design! Through our Pavilions, we focus on areas of global importance like clean technology, renewable energy, global health, and public policy. In partnership with Rockefeller Foundation, we have run a multitude of challenge to help people in impoverished areas of the world. Have a look at recent solutions impacting work in Malaria, TB, and energy efficiency Our solvers are brilliant ... and are making a difference every day.

We at InnoCentive are committed to driving a dramatically accelerated model of innovation - with gains not possible utilizing existing methods of ideation, invention, and R&D alone. For organizations that build the capabilities to tap this vast global pool of innovation capacity, the benefits will be truly extraordinary.

Scott McNealy from Sun Microsystems once proclaimed with great zeal that the ‘network is the computer'. Wikinomics predicted a similar step change in the way we think about innovation, where the network of minds becomes infinitely more valuable that the monolithic approaches we've taken to date. At InnoCentive, our goal is nothing short of enabling this transformation for organizations and inventive minds all over the world.

Dwayne H. Spradlin

Topics: Innovation Insights

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