ISPIM Grand Prize 2016

ISPIM Grand Prize 2016 for Excellence in Innovation Management

ISPIM Grand Prize 2016ISPIM, the International Society for Professional Innovation Management, champions the innovation activities of commercial entities and is back with its ISPIM Grand Prize to recognize the work currently going on.

Great products are the result of excellent innovation management, and so the Prize seeks to recognize the outstanding work that innovation professionals do to deliver great innovation to the market. It is looking for cases that significantly advance the practice of innovation management in proven application, not theory. The advance should be in how innovation is managed, they are not seeking proposals that describe the actual end output, the what.

Examples of submissions to the Prize could include;

  • launching an Open Innovation program to accelerate new ideas and public engagement
  • energizing the whole company to contribute to technology radar
  • introducing a common ethos and approach to innovation in a large, diverse and decentralized organization
  • making innovation more efficient through new processes

The competition will be open to all commercial enterprises (companies or not-for-profits) and the deadline is 8th April 2015. A panel of judges will first assess the entries, before 3 finalists will be invited to present at the ISPIM conference in Porto, Portugal on 19th June 2015.

For more information and details on how to enter, please go to



ISPIM – International Society for Professional Innovation Management – is a network of researchers, industrialists, consultants and public bodies who share an interest in innovation management. Founded in 1983 by Professor Knut Holt in Norway, ISPIM is the oldest, largest and most active innovation association in Europe, rapidly expanding in the Americas and Asia.

ISPIM produces scientific and educational material and events to help people understand and share thinking and experiences on how individuals, organisations and society can be better organized to create and distribute new products, services and processes to make the world a better place.


Challenging the crowd to tackle diseases

Ahead of next week’s Global Genes Patient Advocacy Summit, we’ve been reflecting on the different patient groups and disease areas the crowd has been challenged to work on over the years.

The ability to focus the crowd’s attention upon a specific, unaddressed problem lends itself extremely well to rare diseases, which often struggle to attract the attention and brainpower needed to make real strides. Two particularly notable programs:

  • National PKU Alliance heard patients ask for an at-home testing device that would greatly improve quality of care. In the absence of the market providing a solution, NPKUA is crowdsourcing its development through a series of challenges, as Executive Director Christine Brown outlines in this webinar.
  • Frustrated with the research obstacles created by the absence of a known biomarker, Prize4Life challenged the crowd to propose new biomarkers for ALS, ultimately awarding $1 million. In the words of Chief Scientific Officer Melanie Leitner, “Working with InnoCentive expanded our reach to new minds around the world, which would have been inaccessible without this partnership. When we launched what we thought was a neuroscience Challenge we certainly didn’t expect some of the most exciting ideas to come from the fields of dermatology, chemistry, and plant biology and yet that’s what happened. InnoCentive’s Solver network is unparalleled.”

But even more common diseases that receive a greater share of funding and are the focus of many researchers and projects can use some outside perspective from time to time, as the following programs illustrate:

  • Harvard Catalyst tapped into the crowd to answer an unusual question: What do we not know to cure diabetes? By crowdsourcing the identification of missing puzzle pieces, Harvard Catalyst got a clear idea of what type of research they should fund going forward, as they described in this reflection.
  • In the case of Alzheimer’s, the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative identified a lack of attention on the question of male/female differences in how the brain processes the disease, and called on the crowd to propose hypotheses, some of which were funded for further investigation.
  • Earlier this year, the Epilepsy Foundation turned to the crowd with a communication challenge, seeking advocacy campaign ideas for SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy). Solvers participated in great numbers, with some of the winners sharing personal connections to the disease.

We’re looking forward to meeting more passionate disease champions at Global Genes’ Patient Advocacy Summit next week, and will be keeping an eye out for research and advocacy related problems that the crowd can tackle.


VP Business Development Siobhán Gibney Gomis leads the nonprofit practice at InnoCentive.

CPN 3.4

Conquer Paralysis Now comes to King’s College London

On Thursday last week, we hosted a panel discussion on the CPN Grand Challenge, together with partners Public Health and Longevity and King’s College London Business Club. In a room filled with budding researchers and students alike, we had three guest speakers –Professor James Fawcett, Harvey Sihota and Oli Zolman – who provided insight into Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) (both from a scientific and personal perspective), some of the work already being done in the field and the important role of innovation Challenges. InnoCentive’s Mikey Hanson was there to give an overview of the history, grants and application process of the CPN Challenge.CPN 3.4

CPN Scientific Advisory Council member James Fawcett brought his wealth of experience and expertise to the discussion, highlighting areas requiring particular attention within SCI research such as axon – regeneration and maladaptive plasticity and electronic repair, as well as some of the factors that have limited progress in the field so far; arguing that SCI research has long suffered from a lack of funding and clinical trials and disinterest from pharmaceutical companies -all of which the CPN Challenge aspires to overcome with its 3 stage Challenge Program.

Talking about living with SCI and his journey since being injured in a fall in 2009 was the inspirational Harvey Sihota, who is now co-founder of Neurokinex – the UK’s leading provider of activity-based rehabilitation – and Director at Unite2FightParalysis. He wanted everyone to come away from the evening not feeling that they must now be grateful and make the most of their life but feeling inspired to be part of this journey – to make a real difference in the lives of those with SCI. He explained how crucially the CPN Grants focus on the oft-neglected area of Chronic SCI, foster much needed collaboration and provide an alternative avenue for people to acquire funding for their research. And not only this, but it creates a community in which everyone has the opportunity to be involved, whether they’re a scientific researcher, doctor, entrepreneur or someone living with SCI.

Oli Zolman then took us through the role of Challenges in driving innovation in healthcare more generally. Oli’s insights highlighted the fresh new ideas that are out there and the many up-and-coming innovators around the world that are changing Healthcare research for the better.

This engaging discussion demonstrated that there are incredible people out there that could have the solutions to these problems; all it takes is initiatives such as the CPN Challenge to provide the right incentives, opportunities and framework to allow SCI cures to become a possibility. Harvey aptly reminded us of words spoken by CPN CEO Ida Cahill: “Think outside of the box, be bold, and accept the challenge to find a Cure!” – If the conversations at the networking drinks were anything to go by, the challenge has certainly been accepted. A short video of the event will be released soon.

To find out more about the CPN Challenge please click here.

3 Reasons Why Crowdsourcing is Perfect for your Business

3 Reasons Why Crowdsourcing is Perfect for your Business

3 Reasons Why Crowdsourcing is Perfect for your Business

Crowdsourcing will improve your business by speeding up the process of content creation and getting more real people involved.

Creating content for your business is a daunting task. It is often cost effective and time consuming. Even though content creation may have caused business owners needless trouble in the past, the innovation of today has created practices that make it a lot easier. Crowdsourcing is one of the practices that is revolutionizing the world of content creation. Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining ideas, content, and services by enlisting contributions from a large number of people on the Internet.

Here are 3 reasons why crowdsourcing is perfect for your business:

1. It speeds up content creation. Creating enough content on your own is nearly impossible. Emergencies and daily life can get in the way. Crowdsourcing makes it easy. By hiring online content creators with the help of crowdsourcing, your business will get better content in lesser time.

2. It gets real people involved. Crowdsourcing helps to create a community that gets real people involved. People love to share their opinion. Crowdsourcing makes that happen while attracting new customers and marketing stellar content.

3. It revolutionizes the process. Crowdsourcing revolutionizes the process by splitting the work among hundreds of people. By doing this, your business is guaranteed diverse content and marketing that will separate your business from the rest.

Content creation is often cost-effective and time-consuming. Crowdsourcing is providing a better way. Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining ideas, content, and services from large amounts of people online. This revolutionary practice will improve your business by speeding up the process, getting real people involved, and transforming the way your business works.To learn more about crowdsourcing, contact us.

“I Think, Therefore I Am”: Thoughts, Words, Images and Idea Management

“I Think, Therefore I Am”: Thoughts, Words, Images and Idea Management

“I Think, Therefore I Am”: Thoughts, Words, Images and Idea Management

When your team realizes they can express their ideas without being criticized, they’re more likely to speak up.

Descartes came up with one of the most influential philosophical statements in history when he wrote, “I think, therefore I am.”  According to Descartes, everything else could be questioned.  Everything in the material world is fleeting and can be an illusion.  I could be hallucinating right now, thinking that I am sitting in front of my computer and writing a blog post.

However, the one thing that always remains with me—the one thing I can be sure of—is that I am a thinking organism.  Even if I am hallucinating about blog-writing, there’s still a thought in my mind which suggests that I am blog-writing.  And from this thought, I can deduce that I exist.

Images and Ideas

According to Descartes, thoughts can be divided into images and ideas.  There are those who think more visually; their thoughts resemble images we see in the world.  And there are those who think more verbally; their thoughts are closer to ideas.  But there are also ideas which include both, images and words.  And sometimes, ideas are completely abstract; it’s difficult to express them in images or words.

Expressing Ideas and Genius

Everyone has ideas.  However, not everyone has the capacity to express those ideas in words or images.  People who seem particularly brilliant are those who have figured out how to express their ideas well.  We all have grandiose visions in our heads but geniuses are the ones who are good at expressing those visions in some way or the other.  Artists do it through painting while writers do it through writing.  In a business environment, geniuses are great at innovation—creating new products and services which correspond to their visions.

Idea Management

You may or may not have a genius on your team but this doesn’t mean that there is any lack of ideas.  What you need is idea management, which refers to the ability to convert an idea into words and finally into products and services which you can offer your customers.  To do this, you need to encourage all your employees to come up with new ideas and tell you about them.  Or you can hire someone whose job it is to wade through these ideas and find the best ones.

Brainstorming sessions can also be very productive because they are free of censorship.  When people realize that they can actually express their ideas without being criticized, they’re more likely to speak up.  You can also put a reward system into place for the best ideas submitted.  If you do this on a monthly basis, you’re likely to create a culture of innovation.

-Courtney and Grace

Crowdsourced Solutions Used To Help Victims In Africa

Crowdsourced Solutions Used To Help Victims In Africa

Crowdsourced Solutions Used To Help Victims In Africa

Crowdsourced solutions to pressing healthcare problems can bring hope and help to those in need.

The violence in certain regions of Africa has left numerous victims in its wake. Even innocent individuals are often caught in the crossfire. That was what happened to Daniel Omar when he was just 14 years old. He lost an arm as a result of the violence that has erupted in his country. In the end, Daniel’s story ended up being one touched by crowdsourced solutions.

How A Lab In California Changed Daniel’s Life

California is a long way from Sudan, but the hearts of the people in one California research lab went out to the people like Daniel. The appropriately named “Not Impossible Labs” is a lab that relies on open innovation and crowdsourcing to find solutions to the pressing healthcare challenges that our planet faces. explains more about what this lab is,

Ebeling is co-founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs, a California, U.S.-based research firm that aims to tackle daunting healthcare challenges using low-cost technology, and open-source methods.

3-D Prosthetics Returned Some Normalcy To Daniel’s Life 

Being open to new ideas and crowdsourcing solutions allowed for Not Impossible Labs to create the world’s first 3-D prosthetics lab and training facility. People in the South Sudan villages are flocking to the lab. They want to learn the skills to print up more limbs for their fellow countrymen who have lost them. So far, the lab prints out an arm per week and has alleviated a lot of suffering in the region.

An Overwhelming Support For Humanity

The overarching goal of this lab and others like it is to help those who are trapped in unfortunate situations. A great impact of crowdsourcing is that it so often helps to impact human kind in positive ways. Giant world problems that seemed impossible to solve in the past are now being tackled by crowdsourcing solutions.

CPN logo

Conquer Paralysis Now

CPN logoToday, together with our partners Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN), we have the great honor of opening the Conquer Paralysis Now Challenge; An ambitious, multi-year program of prizes and grants which is designed to stimulate inventive researchers to drastically improve the lives of  Spinal Cord Injury patients.

There are over a million people living with SCI in the US alone, and ultimately, CPN’s mission is to help them carry out every day functions that the rest of us take for granted like drinking a glass of water or getting up from a chair. The Challenge Program incentivizes researchers by offering grants to fund promising work, prizes to recognize progress, and incentivize cross-discipline collaboration and failure-sharing. The $10 million Grand Prize will be awarded for research that shows functional recovery in at least two areas for human patients, with more specific criteria forthcoming as the program is rolled out over the coming years.

I encourage you to take a look at the CPN portal: watch the video testimonials of those affected by SCI, read about why CPN has chosen to run a Grand Challenge, and explore the various grants already open for year 1. Whether you’re a scientist eager to enter the Challenge, or an SCI advocate looking to spread the word to your network, we welcome everyone’s support.

We began working with CPN in 2011, and I have had the pleasure of being part of the project team since day one. In the three years that have passed, we’ve seen a lot of change. More people have been affected by Spinal Cord Injury. Research has progressed. CPN even changed its name, from the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, after its determined and inspirational founder. Through these changes, the one thing that has remained constant is the incredible commitment of Sam Schmidt, foundation CEO Ida Cahill, and the entire CPN board and team to working towards a cure of Spinal Cord Injury. We’ve witnessed first-hand their optimism, and continue to be inspired by their unfailing resolve. We hope this determination to tackle Spinal Cord Injury will be contagious!


Siobhán Gibney Gomis, Vice President, Business Development for Canada, Pacific Northwest and Global Nonprofits at InnoCentive

Whole You Banner

Whole You™Healthcare Innovations – Challenges to help unlock human potential.

Whole You Banner

The vast majority of healthcare companies focus their efforts towards finding new treatments and techniques that help extend life for patients around the world. But is there enough consideration given to enhancing the quality of life? Despite huge healthcare advances in the last century, sensory and physical mobility issues still prevent huge portions of the population from living life to the fullest. This is where Whole You™ comes in: a brand new healthcare innovation company focused on quality of life.  Whole You™ is developing and bringing to market a wide range of healthcare innovations that will help people get more out of life.

Whole You™ Living Lab represents a novel approach to R&D.  The team is leveraging an extensive network of partners and collaborators along with their parent company’s (Mitsui Chemicals) deep experience in materials science to develop cutting-edge solutions to the healthcare challenges of the twenty-first century. Central to this development is the theme of collaboration: the Living Lab aims to solve sensory and mobility challenges by bringing together a wide range of people and perspectives including: patients, health professionals, designers, academics and other key stakeholders. This diversity of perspectives fosters and encourages unexpected and life-changing breakthroughs.

To highlight this dedication to collaboration, Whole You™ has launched two open innovation Challenges with InnoCentive; each tackling a sensory issue that will help people get more out of life.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea ChallengeThe first Challenge focuses on the issue of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing throughout the night, thus waking up repeatedly. Regular use of oral appliances can be an effective treatment, however the treatment does not work if the device is not used regularly. Whole You™ is looking for ideas to improve the usage of devices to ensure that their full benefits can be realized. Could this be realized through gamification, online communities and leader boards, or rewards associated with wearing the device? All ideas that could generate increased OSA device usage are welcome.

Eye Care and Vison ChallengeThe second Challenge centers on eye care and vison. Eye care isn’t just important for our vision; it’s crucial for our overall health. Whole You™ is looking for ways to promote greater attention to vision and eye health.  In particular, this Challenge seeks ideas for additional services that eye health providers could offer to encourage more patient engagement opportunities which in turn would allow for more of a focus on health promotion. Eyestrain treatments; eye cleaning; vision exercises; mobile apps; advanced treatments for specialist job requirements. All are potential avenues. Whole You™ wants your ideas on how to encourage important behavioural changes towards eye and vision care

As ideation Challenges, both offer guaranteed award funds of $15,000.  Whole You™ aims to push the boundaries of senses and mobility and is dedicated to developing innovations that will help us all get more out of life: see more, hear more, taste more, feel more, do more. Check these challenges out, and help Whole You™ unlock human potential.  More information about Whole You™ can be found at


Seeker Spotlight: ASpIRE – IARPA Automatic Speech recognition In Reverberant Environments Challenge

  1. Could you please start by telling us a bit about IARPA and the origin of this Challenge?

The development of automatic speech recognition able to perform well across a variety of acoustic environments and recording scenarios on natural conversational speech represents one of the biggest challenges in speech recognition research and development. Previous work in the literature has shown that automatic speech recognition (ASR) performance degrades on microphone recordings especially when data used for training is mismatched with data used in testing. The ASpIRE (Automatic Speech recognition In Reverberant Environments) Challenge seeks to foster the development of innovative speech recognition systems that can be trained on conversational telephone speech, yet work well on far-field microphone data from noisy, reverberant rooms.  Challenge “Solvers” are given access to sample data against which they can test their algorithms that are different from  the test set, but provide a good representation of microphone recordings in real rooms.     Solvers will have the opportunity to evaluate their techniques on a common and challenging test set that includes significant room noise and reverberation. With ASpIRE, IARPA is continuing to address its mission to promote high-risk, high-payoff research that has the potential to enhance the performance of IC activities.  IARPA’s use of a challenge to stimulate breakthroughs in science and technology also supports the White House’s Strategy for American Innovation, as well as government transparency and efficiency.

  1. What are you hoping to achieve with this Challenge and can you describe the impact of a successful solution?

The purpose of this challenge is to gauge how far recent advances in speech recognition have come in solving this important problem and drive further creative innovation in an exciting way.  With broad participation, this challenge has the potential to provide IARPA with insights on the best next steps to stimulate research for solving this challenging problem.

  1. What was your motivation for crowdsourcing this Challenge?

The reason for crowdsourcing the challenge is to invite the broadest possible community of innovators to demonstrate their technical insights and ingenuity in addressing automatic speech recognition in reverberant environments in order to identify the leading systems and Solvers.

  1. What are the key attributes you’d like to see (or not see) in a winning solution?

We encourage solvers to try a wide variety of new methods that have yet to be tested on challenging data, not just standard techniques.   This challenge offers the opportunity to test out new and emerging ideas in a way that can be compared to a wide variety of solvers in a fair and convincing way.

  1. Any final advice or guidance for our Solvers as they tackle this challenge?

We encourage solvers to take advantage of the development and development-test data to gauge progress, but not to over-tune to this data, because the evaluation test set recordings differ significantly from the development data.  The evaluation data will test robustness of your solutions.

Click here to view IARPA Challenge >>

NIH Follow That Cell Challenge

Seeker Spotlight: NIH Single Cell Analysis Program

NIH Follow That Cell ChallengeThe Single Cell Analysis Program (SCAP) is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund. The Common Fund began a decade ago to support collaborative programs with participation by all NIH Institutes and Centers. These programs must also be transformative, catalytic, synergistic, and unique. The overall goal of SCAP is to accelerate the discovery, development, and translation of cross-cutting, innovative approaches to analyzing the heterogeneity of biologically relevant populations of cells in situ. The SCAP recently announced the launch of an exciting new “Follow that Cell” Challenge. The Challenge is a 2-phase call for submissions describing novel and robust methods for analysis of individual cells that can detect and assess dynamic changes in cell behavior and function over time. We recently spoke with Dr. Yong Yao, Challenge Lead for the NIH SCAP and Program Director at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of NIH, to find out a bit more about the Challenge and the interesting subject area it focuses around.

Hello Dr. Yao – thank you for joining us today. Could you start by giving us a bit of background information on the Single Cell Analysis Program, its aims and mission, and how the Follow that Cell Challenge complements it?

Glad to be here, thank you! The Single Cell Analysis Program (SCAP) that we know today evolved out of several public workshops and discussions with various stakeholders in the scientific community beginning in 2010.

In conventional research, scientists often assume that most cells of a particular “type” are the same – however, data suggest that individual cells in a population could have different qualities and behaviors from one another, and this could impact the overall function and health of a cellular population. Surprisingly, we know very little about how individual cells change over time and we know even less about how to measure the functional changes in complex mixtures of cells, which is really what a tissue or organ is composed of.

It became clear that this is a cross-cutting, innovative research area that NIH should explore further. With this in mind, the overall goal of the SCAP is to accelerate the discovery, development and translation of approaches to analyzing the heterogeneity of biologically relevant populations of cells in situ. Specifically, the program aims to:

  • Address key roadblocks in analyzing single cells by supporting cross-cutting, transformative research (See currently funded research here:
  • Catalyze the emerging field of single cell research by building a synergistic program of unique initiatives
  • Coordinate NIH efforts in advancing the next-generation of technologies for single cell analysis in order to improve our ability to characterize cells and understand the biological significance of heterogeneity

The NIH has lots of grants supporting studies on populations of cells, watching cells in a dish using microscopes etc., however there are relatively few studies that tackle the issue of cellular heterogeneity by examining single cells and their microenvironment in living organisms. We hope that the SCAP and this Challenge will stimulate the field in addressing this.

The Follow that Cell Challenge is looking to source proposals for a method for analysis at the single cell level – can you explain what you mean by the term ‘single cell analysis’ and what is the potential impact of such novel methods in healthcare?

“Single cell analysis” refers to the study of individual cells and cellular heterogeneity in a population, which encompasses a wide range of novel molecular and cellular techniques. Some techniques and tools include advanced optical, electrochemical, mass spectrometry instrumentation, and sensor technology, while others involve micromanipulation of cells and gene sequencing techniques. Many approaches currently in use can offer snapshots of single cells, but are often not amenable to longitudinal studies that monitor changes in individual cells in situ. Cells are the fundamental units of life. Single cell analysis is not just one more step towards more sensitive detection, but is a critical step towards fundamental understanding of biology and human diseases. We know that most cells are healthy but this can change; they can change in significant ways becoming cancerous, infected by viruses, or can die prematurely. While many of the research projects NIH has supported in the past 3 years in this program are sometimes deemed “high risk”, we strive to support science that is of high impact and has the potential to transform patient care and therapeutics. Understanding how cells behave in healthy conditions, how they unfortunately transition to disease states, and how they may recover back to normal in response to clinical treatment will have great impact in healthcare.

How is the Challenge structured and why do you feel crowdsourcing has the potential to source advances in this area where more traditional innovation strategies have not?

What we are trying to do here is really different. Instead of just funding a few more grants, the NIH decided to offer a prize to the individual or team that comes up with the most creative way to measure changes in individual cells over time. We want new things, maybe even ideas that are a little off the wall. We hope this challenge stimulates fresh ideas from scientists with different backgrounds; we are looking for engineers, materials scientists, chemists etc. to partner with cell biologists and disease specialists to help solve this challenge.

Inventing new technologies and approaches that will help us track and measure changes in cells could have a profound effect on how we view cell health and emerging disease states at the cellular level. We hope this takes precision medicine to an all-new level.

Phase 1 of the challenge is theoretical, the idea phase. Finalists will be selected to move on to Phase 2 which will allow solvers to put their idea into practice. Phase 2 will be judged on how well the individual or team executed their plan and the quality of the data produced. Part of what’s different here for the NIH is that no money is awarded until and unless a solution is deemed to be a “winner”.

Thanks for your time Dr. Yao. Do you have any specific advice or guidance for people looking to enter the Challenge?

There is still time to register and submit a solution—the deadline is December 15, 2014. Because NIH is following the America COMPETES legislation, it’s important that potential solvers read the announcement in the Federal Register ( closely to understand the details of the challenge including eligibility criteria, what’s expected from potential solvers, how solutions will be judged etc. There is a lot of fine print.

We look forward to seeing your innovative ideas and new approaches that open new doors for basic biology and disease related research!