Our Client Services team reviews thousands of Challenge Solutions each year and they asked me to share with you some of the tips they’ve come up with based on their experience. Please feel free to leave a comment for me if you find one of these particularly helpful, or if you have any of your own to share.
Tip #1: You can download the Solution Submission Form and Solver Submission Guideline documents for your use. To access these documents, click on the “Submit a Solution” button located within the Project Room of a Challenge.
Tip #2: Carefully re-read the Challenge description and make sure that you completely understand both the goal of the Challenge, the Technical Requirements, and the required deliverables as stated under the heading “Project Criteria” in the Challenge statement.
Tip #3: As a rule of thumb, the most successful submissions are organized as small articles, like you might see in a newspaper. We recommend starting with a Summary or Introduction that describes the essence of your idea in one short paragraph stating precisely what your submission is all about.
Tip #4: Following your Introduction, the Main Body of your proposal is typically composed of the detailed description of the Solution and an experimental section if required. If appropriate, briefly introduce the area of science, technology or business your solution refers to.
Tip #5: The majority of InnoCentive Challenges include specific Solution Requirements. It is very important to address these requirements – ideally, point by point – at the end of the Main Body of your proposal. Don’t neglect this part even if your solution doesn’t meet some of the Technical Requirements. Although optional, you may want to add a Conclusion to your submission and use this section to reiterate your major achievements and to emphasize the novelty of your approach.
Tip #6: Explain everything; don’t assume that “everyone knows that!” For example, do not send an article or brochure and say “the answer is attached, just read it.” The Seeker is looking for you to do the work and point specifically to the answer. It is acceptable to attach an article as reference material, but you should explain exactly what and where the answer is and why it is important to the Seeker.
Tip #7: Try not to pad your proposal with "frills” or “attachments.” Too much extraneous material may overwhelm the Seeker and make it difficult to find your solution in your proposal. You want to make it easy for the Seeker to find your solution, understand it, and award it.
Tip #8: Before uploading your solution proposal to the Project Room, make sure that your submission is complete. Only complete submissions are eligible for full cash award. If the Challenge requires submission of a material sample, please include a statement that the material is in your possession and is ready to be shipped.
Tip #9: Describe your proposed idea as completely (but succinctly!) as you can. Refer to literature, patent or business precedents to make your case stronger. It’s almost always necessary – and always advantageous – to include a list of references you have used to write the proposal. Be specific, and use only the references that are immediately relevant to your approach.
Tip #10: From time to time, similar ideas/solutions are submitted for the same Challenge. When this occurs, the Seeker will give preference to the submission with the earlier submission date. So don’t risk an award opportunity by waiting until the last minute.
I hope you find these helpful. If you have any other suggestions or comments, please share!