This week, InnoCentive announced that is has become a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule contractor. Essentially what this means is that it is now easier for U.S. federal government agencies to engage with InnoCentive to develop and launch Challenges.
As many of our Solvers know, we’ve done some pretty interesting work with the government. In January 2010, NASA’s Johnson Space Center launched an open innovation pavilion on InnoCentive.com. Of NASA’s initial seven Challenges – ranging from protecting astronauts and equipment in space from solar flares to keeping food fresh during long space missions – nearly 3,000 of our Solvers from around the world participated, and more than 350 solutions were proposed. NASA designated full or partial monetary awards for all seven Challenges, and the average time-to-solution for each of the Challenges was only four months.
I always liked this quote from Solver Yury Bodrov, who was rewarded for his submission to NASA’s Improved Food Packaging Challenge: “I was not sure I would be successful, but having NASA scientists evaluate my work was a primary motivation…It is a dream to be recognized by the scientific level of NASA quality.”
More recently, in March 2011, InnoCentive and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) announced a collaboration to advance innovation in military research. Through this partnership, the AFRL has successfully solved Challenges, including methods for dropping humanitarian aid without injury to people on the ground and stopping a fleeing vehicle without damaging the vehicle or the driver. The AFRL has since launched new Challenges, most recently Fast Rope Glove Device, currently open to the public and seeks innovative ways for military personnel to descend quickly from a helicopter in hostile situations.
Let’s face it: While we consider all of our Challenges to be important, there’s something cool about participating in NASA, AFRL, and other Challenges posted by government agencies. They spark our collective imaginations and enable us to truly reach for the stars. Stay tuned for other agencies to launch new Challenges on InnoCentive.com in the coming months.