I am a scientist with backgrounds in molecular biology and molecular genetics. I have been a member of the InnoCentive community for two years. Last year, I solved two theoretical-IP transfer Challenges and I was recently announced as one of the Top Solvers of 2009, along with twelve other people in five countries.
I first encountered InnoCentive through an article in the March 2008 issue of The Science Magazine during a coffee break in the lab, titled “Science and Commerce: Science by the Masses.” The “Science by the Masses” part of the title got my interest immediately. The topic was about open innovation and InnoCentive, Inc. The overall concept seemed like a very unique platform. After reading the article, I was skeptical at first even though it was published in one of the top journals in the world. Nevertheless, I went home that day and registered as a Solver to try and understand the article. I browsed through the open Challenges for a while and, out of curiosity, I submitted a couple of proposals to test myself. Several weeks later, I received serious feedback from the InnoCentive moderators and sincere responses from the Seekers. At the end, the proposal that I submitted for the Phenylephirine Stabilization Method Challenge was awarded.
Later on last year, I won another Challenge award with my submission for the Pd recovery and reuse from aqueous. After I got my second award for this submission, a follow-up Challenge emerged based on my solution. Thus, I have also seen firsthand that my idea is extended to the next level and a new Challenge emerged based on the previous one. With this Challenge, it appeared to me that open innovation had emerged, evolved and became feasible enough for company R&D teams to consider the InnoCentive platform as a standalone part of the troubleshooting and development process for continuous innovation.
I believe innovation emerges from a combination of individual/team creativity and well established problem solving skills. I also believe an incubation phase is required for the process.
The solutions for the Challenges that I was awarded came out spontaneously, similar to a “Eureka” fashion as described by other Solvers. However I believe this did not happen all of a sudden. Basically, I had reviewed the Challenges in detail, understood the problem in depth and then re-imagined the experimental conditions for my solution. After an incubation phase, I had a solution that I believe would fulfill the solution requirements.
The most enjoyable part of the process was to know that the Seekers were carefully evaluating proposals from anonymous submitters with as much care as the Solvers who were participating. It was obvious that the proposals were reviewed in detail according to the quality of the ideas proposed and the suitability of the solution based on the Seeker’s demands. The whole process was also a very convincing experience for me to realize that this double blind process was indeed a wonderful opportunity for young scientists such as myself.
The InnoCentive team manages the process quite effectively so that the best results are achieved without the Seeker revealing any critical know-how secrets that would otherwise be a serious issue. Since the Seekers already have the background and knowledge to identify effective solutions for their problems, the open innovation approach helps to greatly speed up their R&D process and stimulates their innovation.
InnoCentive has already demonstrated the effectiveness of this concept numerous times, especially when R&D teams have exhausted their internal resources and/or when then they have time constraints to find the best solution for a specific problem. InnoCentive is a great platform both for the innovation Seekers and for the Solver scientists that are interested in providing their knowledge and creativity without any interference.
The success of the InnoCentive community for leading the open innovation concept is based on the emergence of what I believe is known as the “virtual lab tourism,” facilitated by the InnoCentive team. Basically, InnoCentive brings together the world’s most talented people, and lets the scientific experts from different research backgrounds virtually visit the R&D department of the innovation Seekers. These participating Solvers are allowed to provide solutions and recommend new ideas with absolute freedom. For a given Challenge, I am convinced that the best solution can easily come out of such interactions between the innovation Seekers and the Solvers with InnoCentive’s excellent management.
I have always been interested in the Challenges in scientific research and experimentation and I try to learn as much as I can from different scientific disciplines. I should say that I have an intrinsic hunger for information. I also get a lot of satisfaction when I have an opportunity to use such information in research and I have found this opportunity when I joined the InnoCentive community in 2008.
Thanks to InnoCentive for providing me such opportunity to have this fulfilling experience that I enjoyed greatly. I am now very happy to be a member of InnoCentive community and I will continue participating future Challenges.