Royal Society of Chemistry – InnoCentive Partnership

At InnoCentive, we strive to enable the greatest number and diversity of creative and bright minds to tackle problems that matter. Which is why we’re so excited to announce our new partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry – the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. This partnership means that selected InnoCentive Challenges will be posted on the new Royal Society of Chemistry Open Innovation Pavilion, thereby benefiting from the engagement by their global membership of over 50,000 and millions of web users through the Royal Society of Chemistry’s multi-channel promotions.

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the oldest chemical society in the world and, in 2016, is celebrating 175 years of progress and people in the chemical sciences. It is the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists.  It is a not-for-profit organization, working to shape the future of the chemical sciences – for the benefit of science and humanity. 43 peer-reviewed journals and a portfolio of more than one million articles, chapters and records from across the chemical sciences and related fields have resulted in a global audience. In 2015 alone, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s publishing and corporate websites were visited more than 60 million times.

By giving Seekers the opportunity to engage with the Royal Society of Chemistry’s community, as well as access to their broad range of expertise, this open innovation pavilion is a unique opportunity for Seekers to find solutions to Challenges.

If you would like to have a Challenge featured on the Royal Society of Chemistry Open Innovation Pavilion, contact us today. Or if you would like to partner with InnoCentive to engage your network on your Challenges, please contact us here.

Enel Green Power: Let's Innovate. The Challenge Begins.

Five Challenges to drive innovations in Renewable Energy


As a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest energy providers, Enel Green Power concentrates all their efforts on the production of renewable energy through a variety of sources. With a presence in four continents and 735 active power plants globally, it is truly a transnational corporation leading the way in the production of geothermal energy, hydropower, solar energy, biomass, and wind power.

As part of their continual strive to improve renewable energy production and further diversify the energy mix, they have launched five Challenges through their own online platform. These Challenges are looking for early-stage innovative technological solutions and proposals that centre around five key issues that are highlighted below.

  1. Use of drones / satellites in renewable plants

Enel Green Power is looking for effective and concrete proposals of drones and satellites use for power plants during the engineering and construction phase, and operation and maintenance activities. The challenge is to propose an effective way to use drones in renewable power plant management to improve safety, decrease maintenance costs, number of faults etc.

  1. Automatic Assembly of photovoltaic plants

Enel Green Power is looking for automatic assembly systems but it seems that there are very few solutions available on the market, proposed by literature, applied by other electrical utilities worldwide, or in early stages of development. The challenge is to design a system able to assemble solar power plants automatically.

  1. Photovoltaic Panels Cleaning

Periodical cleaning of solar panels is very important in order to produce and deliver the maximum amount of energy to the grid. Enel Green Power is looking for some solutions which include: Water free solutions (robots installed at string level), and Cleaning with tracks that use water and brushes (necessary water and vehicles fuel consumption). The challenge is to find an effective and inexpensive solution to clean solar modules.

  1. Wind Turbines generators blades anti-icing and de-icing systems

Wind turbine performance can be significantly reduced when the surface integrity of the turbine blades is compromised. The challenge is to find out an effective and inexpensive way to avoid ice formation that can be feasibly applied on new blades or on blades already installed.

  1. New geophysical prospecting techniques

In order to find out the right places of where to drill new wells, Enel Green Power performs geophysical surveys, with the aim to obtain, through the surface detection of some physical parameters of deep geological formations, indirect information useful for the reconstruction of the geothermal model. In this Challenge, Enel Green Power is looking for new geophysical prospecting techniques.



I’m a Solver: Bogdan and Stephanie Yamkovenko

Bogdan and Stephanie Yamkovenko won The Economist-Nielsen Data Visualization Challenge, which asked the World to review Nielsen consumer data, generate insightful conclusions with broad implications, and present a compelling visual presentation of the most interesting ideas from the data. Over 4,000 Solvers from 101 countries signed up to participate in the Challenge. To view the Yamkovenko’s winning submission, a video of them presenting it at The Economist World in 2013 Festival, and profiles of all the Challenge finalists, please click here.

We saw an advertisement in The Economist for the Data Visualization Challenge sponsored by Nielsen and The Economist. The focus of the Challenge was to analyze a data set provided by Nielsen and to tell a story using data visualization. I am a journalist and have also done graphic design in the past, so I knew I could handle the visual story telling. Bogdan is a researcher and assistant professor with an affinity for statistics, which means that he could easily handle the data analysis.

Bogdan and I have been married for six years and had never previously collaborated professionally on a project. This Data Visualization Challenge was a great opportunity for us to combine our skills and, ultimately, be competitive.

We began our work on the Challenge with a brainstorm about the Nielsen global dataset, which consisted of the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index and other data about consumer spending and purchasing habits. We decided to supplement the dataset with other widely available economic indicators (such as unemployment rates). We noticed that countries that had high confidence in their economies were not necessarily the best performing economies.

When working on my master’s degree in journalism, I developed an appreciation for my profession’s role as the “fourth estate.” As we looked at the confidence index, we noticed that countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt had high confidence, but their economies weren’t doing that great. We wondered whether democracy was playing a role in the citizens’ confidence. We decided to include the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index in our analysis, and found that countries with the highest confidence also had the most restricted press. This finding gave us a compelling story to tell and gave the original Nielsen dataset more context and depth. Read more

holiday banner

Happy New Year!

Dear Seekers & Solvers –

As we enter 2013, we would like to thank you – our Seekers and Solvers alike – for your continued support of InnoCentive. We achieved great things with your help, and anticipate growing momentum this year. But, before looking forward to 2013, let’s take a few moments to consider the past year and recap our journey together.

This year has been exciting and groundbreaking in many ways: Our global Solver network grew to over 275,000 creative and diverse minds, we crossed the 1,500 threshold in external Challenges posted to our network, and we exceeded $13 million in total awards paid out to our Solvers. Additionally, our Seekers – and their Challenges – grew more diverse in 2012 due to the increased use of Challenges in industries such as aerospace, financial services, healthcare, and the public sector. Further, the adoption of “Big Data” Prodigy Challenges among our Seekers (e.g., Cleveland Clinic and Prize4Life) saw explosive growth. All of these trends mean exciting new opportunities for Seekers and Solvers alike in 2013!

Our mission has always been to help address and resolve problems that matter, so we have been fortunate to have worked with incredible organizations that ask the world to address global concerns and make extraordinary things happen. We – the collective “we” which includes Seekers, Solvers, and InnoCentive – helped Prize4Life to better predict the progression of disease in ALS patients. We announced the conclusion of the “Global Giveback Challenge Series,” a collaboration between InnoCentive, GlobalGiving, and the Rockefeller Foundation to find solutions to dire water-related problems in developing countries. And we helped BeyondPolio find novel ideas for reducing the cost of using inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) to help in the final stages of the global polio eradication effort. There are many more examples, but suffice to say, we still firmly believe in changing the world, one Challenge at a time.

As many of you know, we kicked the year off with our acquisition of OmniCompete, a firm based in London that specializes in Grand Challenges and is best known for its long-running Global Security Challenge. This acquisition also enabled us to expand our presence in the United Kingdom and Europe. Prior to this acquisition, in December 2011, we announced a strategic alliance with Booz Allen Hamilton to bring to market integrated, full-service open innovation and Challenge offerings to both commercial enterprises and public sector agencies. Read more


Seeker Spotlight: AARP Foundation

We are collaborating with AARP Foundation, AARP’s charitable affiliate, to help advance the Foundation’s cause of improving the lives of millions of older Americans who struggle to meet their basic needs for nutritious food, safe and affordable housing, adequate income, and personal connections. As part of our work together, InnoCentive and AARP Foundation have launched the AARP Foundation-InnoCentive Challenge Series, which is comprised of a dedicated Pavilion along with two new Challenges focused on food insecurity. We asked Jo Ann Jenkins, president of AARP Foundation, to chat with us about the Foundation, the collaboration and its goals, and the two new Challenges now open to Solvers on [Ed note: A press release of the partnership and Challenge announcement can be found here.]

Hello Ms. Jenkins – we appreciate you taking the time to join us. First of all, can you tell us more about the AARP Foundation?  
I’m delighted to. America has always been known as the land of opportunity. But for an alarming number of Americans age 50 and above, any opportunity feels distant right now, if not totally unobtainable. Uncertainty is the new normal – one in four workers has burned through their savings and many are living from paycheck to paycheck. They have worked hard, paid their taxes, and served their communities and country, but now they’re on the road to economic disaster. AARP Foundation helps struggling people 50+ to win back opportunity and move from vulnerability to stability.

According to the Foundation’s research, nearly 9 million American adults age 50 and older are at risk of hunger. How is the Foundation addressing this critical issue?
Working with AARP, we began Drive to End Hunger in 2011, a comprehensive, long-term national initiative with the goal of solving one of the most urgent and challenging issues of our time – hunger among older people. This initiative includes several key programs:

(1) Our cause-marketing work with NASCAR four-time Sprint Cup series winner Jeff Gordon and team owner Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports to raise awareness of hunger and raise funds to fight it. NASCAR fans are one of the most charitable and community-oriented group of sports fans in the U.S.

2) Educating and enrolling people age 60+ in SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). SNAP is the cornerstone of the federal nutrition programs. While overall program participation has increased with the economic downturn, senior participation in SNAP has remained chronically low with only 1 out of every 3 adults 60+ who are eligible for benefits actually receiving them.

SNAP is not simply a nutrition assistance program that allows recipients to purchase food for good health; it is also an economic support program. The average monthly benefit amount for seniors receiving SNAP is $119, or $1,400 a year. This benefit boosts the budgets of low-income seniors so they don’t have to make impossible choices between feeding themselves or getting their prescriptions filled. On average, SNAP benefits last far longer than an emergency food box (2.5 to 3 weeks vs. 2 days), and empower seniors to choose foods that meet their dietary requirements and cultural needs. Read more

Ben Skowera, winner of The Economist-InnoCentive Transparency Challenge

I’m a Solver: Ben Skowera

Ben Skowera is the winner of The Economist-InnoCentive Transparency Challenge.

I am an Associate at SEI Investments in Oaks, Pennsylvania, where I’m currently working on the online software development team performing quality assurance and business analysis for our products. My past projects at SEI have also included web product strategy, international new service development, project management, and operational process improvement. I graduated from Lehigh University in 2009 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and a minor in Economics.

I first learned of InnoCentive through a news article about technology and innovation and I decided to sign up. Shortly after, I came across The Economist-InnoCentive Transparency Challenge in one of the site’s weekly Challenge Bulletins. The Challenge tasked Solvers with developing an innovative way to utilize technology to drive transparency in the government. With the upcoming presidential elections and the political turmoil occurring throughout much of the Middle East and North Africa, I thought this topic was both extremely relevant and important.

I believe having a basic knowledge of the government, political processes, and current political events is a very important part of anyone’s involvement in government and politics. After performing research into how people obtain information about their governments, I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t a sufficient way to truly understand the impact that political decisions have on us and our values and how well our elected officials are representing us over time. This is why I proposed my solution of creating a website that delivers personal and easy-to-understand, value-based political analysis by utilizing technologies and techniques used in online dating, social networking, and metric-based dashboard design.

As part of the award, I traveled to the Ideas Economy: Innovation 2012 event in Berkeley, California, where I was interviewed on stage by Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief of The Economist. The experience was incredible and so was the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the amazing people that attended the event. [editor note: to see Ben’s interview at the event, click on the link above]

By connecting organizations with problems to Solvers that reside outside of specific localities or the four walls of typical organization, I believe InnoCentive is creating a great opportunity for both people and organizations to take advantage of the tremendous knowledge the world has to offer. As more and more people connect due to the expansion of technology and the internet, I believe InnoCentive has developed a great way to bring together everyone’s ideas and create a global community to solve the world’s biggest problems.

I wish the best of luck to all future InnoCentive Solvers.

Congratulations to Benjamin Skowera, Winner of the Economist-InnoCentive Transparency Challenge

In late March, we announced the winner of the Economist-InnoCentive Transparency Challenge.  Benjamin Skowera, an associate at SEI Investments presented his solution at the Ideas Economy: Innovation event on March 28th in Berkeley, California. The InnoCentive Challenge, which attracted more than 600 problem Solvers and received more than 115 submissions on the InnoCentive website, asked participants to identify an emerging technology or a national or global information platform and propose an innovative way to use this resource to motivate governments to engage in productive and open discourse with citizens.  Below is a video of Benjamin and Matthew Bishop, US Business editor and New York Bureau Chief for the Economist discussing Benjamin’s winning solution at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Innovation 2012 event in Berkeley, California.

The winning solution proposed a four-part approach based on currently available technologies used in online dating, social networking and other applications.  First, a survey would gather data about a users’ political values. Second, a framework would be created to enable policy analysts to provide analyses, in a transparent and quantitative manner, about how a piece of legislation will impact various issues. Third, by combining these two pieces of information, a metric dashboard would be created to help a user identify how well the government is representing them and how each piece of legislation may impact their values. Finally, by using a social networking model and the users’ political values information, the application helps connect users with people that share their values and enable them to organize quickly and more effectively. By combining these aspects, this application has the potential to drive transparency, political action, and create an open discourse with government through improved education of the public.
Walter-Alcorn - CEA

Seeker Spotlight: Consumer Electronics Association

Walter-Alcorn - CEAWe recently posted a Challenge with the Consumer Electronics Association and the Environmental Defense Fund as part of our EDF/InnoCentive EcoChallenge Series.  The Challenge seeks financially viable, environmentally-beneficial business models based on the repurposing of recycled Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) glass from used televisions and computer monitors.  We spoke with Walter Alcorn, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for the Consumer Electronics Association about the Challenge and the importance of solving this critical environmental issue.

Hi Walter – thanks for agreeing to talk with our Solvers today.  Your Challenge, New Uses for Recycled Glass, specifically calls for new uses for CRT screens, once the standard for televisions and other types of monitors.  How big a problem is used CRT glass for the environment?

The disposition of used CRT glass is a serious resource conservation and recovery issue.  Although used CRT glass is inert while still intact as old TV and monitor tubes, CRT glass contains a significant amount of lead that could be released into the environment if processed inappropriately or mismanaged.

Safe recycling is a big deal for my industry – the consumer electronics industry. Last April we announced the eCycling Leadership Initiative with an ambitious Billion Pound Challenge to more than triple the amount of electronics recycled annually by our industry from 300 million pounds in 2010 to one billion in 2016.

CEA eCycling ProgramThese billions of pounds of recycled electronics need to be recycled responsibly and the materials put back into productive use.  By weight, more than half of all collected consumer electronics are old televisions and computer monitors, and the heaviest component of most of those products are CRTs. For decades, CRT was the technology of choice in the display industry but during the past decade, demand for CRTs has dropped drastically as newer flat-panel technologies like LCD and plasma have become affordable and widely available. Until now most CRT glass collected for recycling was cleaned up and recycled into new CRT units, but the market for new CRT displays is now nearly gone.  Uses for CRT glass with lead (e.g., funnel glass) is particularly challenging.

Why did you choose to pose this Challenge to the InnoCentive Solver Network?

We needed raise the visibility of this situation beyond the recycling industry.  New applications for CRT glass, and potentially new processing technologies are needed to appropriately recycle this material.  We are excited about the encouraging response from the Solver community with more than 250 project rooms opened in the first 2 weeks.   Hopefully this is a sign that economically and environmentally viable uses for CRT glass truly exist.

What will you do with the solution once it has been selected? Are you hoping to take it forward and would you consider working with the Solver to further develop the solution? Read more


InnoCentive Grows to Provide New Opportunities for Seekers and Solvers

By David Sample, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, InnoCentive

I’m a road warrior.  I’ve spent a career expanding businesses to remote corners of the world and have been fortunate to discover innovation and intellectual curiosity in the most unexpected of places.  From the rain forests of Brazil to the deserts of Dubai, I’ve learned that we all share a need to solve problems.  We all want to make our worlds better.  And we all want to connect with others who challenge us.

This is why joining InnoCentive has been so fulfilling for me.  As Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, I’m tasked with expanding our global footprint to increase the innovation capacity of organizations around the world.  This means not only ensuring that our Solver network comprises a diverse mix of individuals from as many different backgrounds as possible, but also providing problems for our Solvers to work on that reflect issues they may not have encountered before.

DSC_0390-S50Over the past few months, we’ve been actively formalizing partnerships to help us extend our reach in strategic geographies.   In Q2, we selected Innovabia, an Arabian Advanced Systems company, to help us bring new Seekers onboard in the Middle East and North Africa. Innovabia is headquartered in Dubai, UAE, and Riyadh, KSA, and has a deep understanding of the business needs in this area. We participated in a formal kick off with our first corporate KSA client, SABIC at an Innovabia/AAS hosted reception and dinner in Riyadh.  InnoCentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin, pictured at the event, pledged a dual effort to expand the Solver and Seeker communities in the region.

Also in Q2, Innovia joined forces with InnoCentive as a partner in South America. Headquartered in Brazil, they will work to expand the Seeker and Solver presence in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil.  In Q3, InnoCentive helped kick off a new partnership in Colombia by participating in an Innovation Day, sponsored by our partner, Tecnova. Over 750 people attended the event and were very enthusiastic about the address given by InnoCentive’s VP of Government Jon Fredrickson. Tecnova will provide solutions throughout Colombia and Peru. Read more

Time is running out to help Popular Science educate the next generation of scientists!

Why would Popular Science join forces with InnoCentive? Popular Science is all about problem solving – bringing the world extraordinary and previously unimaginable scientific breakthroughs as far back as the telephone. The notion that groundbreaking innovation can come from anywhere is what has helped Popular Science build such a loyal following among readers. At InnoCentive we believe in the same principles, and have built a community of people from “anywhere” who can’t wait to see what we throw at them next. When we combine Popular Science’s content and readership with InnoCentive’s network of brilliant problem solvers, the result is an explosion of creativity, imagination, ingenuity, and brainpower.

Now you have a chance to “Make Your Ideas Part of the Revolution!”  Popular Science is looking for innovative new ways to teach the next generation of scientists. But time is running out.  The Popular Science/InnoCentive Challenge is only  open for a few more days.  Click here and submit your solution before it’s too late!