Seeker Spotlight: The Rockefeller Foundation

Posted by Connie French on Jul 10, 2009 4:16:50 PM

We recently announced the renewal of our partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation.  The partnership, first established in 2006, has been overwhelmingly successful in using the InnoCentive "open innovation model" to help non-profit organizations develop solutions on behalf of the world's most poor and vulnerable populations.  We asked Amanda Severeid from Rockefeller to talk with us a bit about the partnership and the use of prize-based open innovation in the non-profit world.

Hi Amanda - thanks for talking with us.  Why did you choose to extend your partnership with InnoCentive?

Due the success of the Rockefeller Foundation's previous partnership with InnoCentive, resulting in 10 Challenges with an 80 percent success rate, the Foundation decided to extend the partnership to continue helping non-profit organizations gain access to cutting edge innovation and some of the world's greatest scientific thinkers and problem solvers.

Why do you think open innovation is a good fit for non-profit organizations?
With the largest population in history, our world is faced with more difficult problems than ever before - from climate change to food security and economic growth. Single institutions are not going to be able to tackle these complex issues independently, and open innovation can add to the toolbox of how the non-profit sector solves problems by providing new sources of creative knowledge and resources.

This is definitely a cultural mind-shift for how non-profit institutions view innovation, where conventional wisdom is that if you hire smart people, you can come up with all the answers. However, in order to be able to meet the growing global challenges, we must accept that a single institution doesn't have all the answers and that sometimes unusual and effective solutions can come from unexpected places.

The Foundation's Initiative on "Accelerating Innovation for Development" is working to accelerate this mind-shift by identifying and scaling up alternative innovation models, like Innocentive, to achieve development goals.

What types of organizations do you think will most benefit from posting Challenges on InnoCentive's marketplace?
InnoCentive is a sophisticated scientific platform that definitely requires a particular level of sophistication from its users. Large, well-established NGOs can benefit greatly. Smaller NGOs, with limited resources and capacity can also benefit, but we've learned that the best way for them to approach InnoCentive is through an intermediary who can offer needed technical support. For example, our most successful partnership to date has been with the GlobalGiving Foundation, which offered its network of NGOs and entrepreneurs the opportunity to post Challenges and helped them navigate the system. GlobalGiving's network was able to connect those smaller NGOs with InnoCentive's services, and now those NGOs are providing people in the developing world with solar-powered lighting, wireless access to the Internet and improved sanitation.

Do you see any trends in the areas in which your Challenges are focused? Or likely will be focused in the future?
In line with the work of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Challenges that we support produce results that help some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable individuals. Moving forward, we are hopeful to see more innovation that addresses the special challenges faced by the urban poor, a particular focus of the Foundation. The Foundation's urbanization work addresses the risks of accelerating urbanization by shaping innovations in planning, finance, infrastructure and governance to manage work in which, for the first time in history, more people live in urban communities than rural ones.

Thanks Amanda.
My pleasure.

Topics: Seekers

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