InnoCentive Launches Accelerated Challenges

Posted by jartese on Dec 4, 2013 12:24:05 PM

InnoCentive is launching new types of challenges! Accelerated Ideation and Theoretical Challenges offer a shorter ‘time to result’ for both Seekers and Solvers as well as some interesting additional features that promise a more interactive overall experience.

 A Challenge as a Journey - Time, Rate & Distance

These are the core components of one of the most frequently used relations in algebra.  Lets think of InnoCentive Challenges as a journey from problem to solution and the award for providing that Solution:

  • Distance is the difficulty of providing the solution, or the level of the work-package that describes the solution for the Seeker. The shortest journeys are therefore Ideation challenges that simply require a paper proposal describing a creative concept or design. While Theoretical challenges still require only paper proposals they are more comprehensive in nature and transport the Seeker further toward a viable solution by providing supporting data, theoretical proof or reference to literature. Reduction to Purpose Challenges are much longer journeys that require solvers to supply a solution with real-world tangible evidence that it fulfils objective specifications.
  • Time, in the context of a challenge, is the duration of the journey and it is important to realise that Solvers and Seekers experience this time differently – Seekers look at ‘time to result’ from identification of the problem to having answers or awarded solutions available to use, while Solvers experience time to develop and provide a proposal from when a challenge is posted through to the challenge deadline and also the time taken to receive an award.
  • Rate, then, is the distance progressed toward a solution per unit time. While both Solvers and Seekers prefer the Challenge journey to be as fast as possible it is important to acknowledge that the quality of the journey experience is also important.

Feedback from both Seekers and Solvers has lead InnoCentive to re-examine how the Challenge journey is structured and executed so that we can offer significant improvements in speed while balancing benefits to all involved.

Parkinson’s Law

The Economist published an article in 1955 in which Cyril Parkinson stated ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’. This reflected Parkinson’s experience of bureaucracy and more importantly human nature – people work to deadlines!

This does not mean that simply shorter deadlines are the key to accelerating progress, but it is an important justification for continuously examining the way in which we work so that time rate and distance for our ‘journeys’ remain dynamic variables and do not become fixed.

We have used Parkinson’s Law to look at various aspects of the Challenge journey and have made changes for accelerated Ideation & Theoretical Challenges:

  • Challenge development the workflow – several aspects of this workflow can be accelerated in order to publish challenges more quickly once the Seeker identifies the problem or opportunity to be addressed
  • Challenge Posting Duration – Accelerated Ideation challenges will now be live on the website for 16-20 days and will always span 3 weekends. Accelerated Theoretical challenges will have a duration of 30 days.
  • Seeker Evaluation – solution proposals for accelerated challenges will be forwarded to the Seeker twice weekly, enabling Seekers to begin the evaluation process earlier and also provide earlier feedback to Solvers. Ideation proposals will be evaluated within 15-days of the challenge deadline and theoretical evaluations within 21 days.
  • Solver verification – Solvers selected for an award are required to provide InnoCentive with a small set of documents, including a waiver from their employer. Securing these documents can sometimes delay the award and transfer of any license or IP associated with the proposed solution. To help prevent delays at this stage, InnoCentive will proactively message Solvers when they engage in a challenge to let them know what the exact verification requirement will be.

Advances in technologies and their adoption by users usually occurs through 2 main mechanisms – increases in the speed of technology development and increases in ease of use of that technology. We aim to use accelerated challenges to increase the speed of challenges for all involved and, as a consequence, make them easier to use for clients in industries that increasingly require answers and solutions more quickly.

This will work most effectively when Solvers are incentivised to submit high-quality solutions early in the challenge process. To this end, many Accelerated Challenges will have a guaranteed award component for Solvers submitting the best in class solutions during the first half of the challenge lifecycle.


 FAQ -  Accelerated Challenges

 Q: So what’s new?

A: Accelerated Challenges have been designed to offer a faster turnaround of the whole Challenge experience for both Solver and Seeker. The approach is currently limited to Ideation and Theoretical Challenges. As we refine this approach there may be additional changes, but we firmly believe that accelerating our process will have considerable benefits for both Solvers and Seekers.


  Explanation Premium Challenges Accelerated Premium Challenges
Award The financial reward for providing the best in class answer or a solution that meets the challenge requirements Ideation challenges award ‘best in class’ answers, while Theoretical challenges award solutions that meet specific challenge requirements. Awards are made following the Seeker’s  evaluation of all submissions made available to them after the challenge deadline Accelerated Ideation and Theoretical challenges will both have guaranteed awards for ‘best in class’ proposals submitted in the first half of the challenge posting.
Challenge Posting period The amount of time the challenge is live on the website allowing you to work on and submit your solution proposal Ideation = 30-days; Theoretical = 60-days; RTP = 90-days; eRFP = 45-days Ideation = 16-20 days; Theoretical = 30-days
Submission Deadline The latest time point you can submit your proposal file Over the years we have allowed up to 5 days grace period following the submission deadline. The deadline is now 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on the day of the published deadline. In the interests of fairness, there will be NO EXCEPTIONS. 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on the day of the published deadline. In the interests of fairness, there will be NO EXCEPTIONS.
Transmission of proposals InnoCentive passing your proposals to the Seeker 5-10 days after the submission deadline Within 48-72 hrs of you submitting your proposal
Evaluation Period The length of time the Seeker has to decide which proposals to award Ideation = 30-days from transmission of proposals to the Seeker. Theoretical = 30-days from transmission of proposals to the Seeker. Ideation = 15 -days from the Challenge deadline.
Theoretical = 21-days from the Challenge deadline.
Solver Verification The process Solvers selected for award need to complete. This consists of supplying verification of Identity, a scan of the signed Challenge Specific Agreement, and an Employer Waiver (if applicable). This process begins at the end of the evaluation period, once the Seeker informs InnoCentive which proposals are to be awarded. Solvers are requested to be more aware of the need to prepare and complete the required documentation prior to being informed of an award.

 Q: Why are the timelines for Ideation and Theoretical Challenges changing?

A: The pace of life and also technology development cycles seem to be ever increasing. We realize that increasing the speed of challenge lifecycles will enable InnoCentive to post more challenges to the Solver community and give you more challenges to choose from and engage in. From the Seeker perspective, shorter challenge lifecycles will enable them to find solutions faster and also to use challenges in new ways. This should result in more varied challenge topics and for challenges to better contribute solutions to fast moving product development projects in industries such as consumer goods, food and beverage.

 Q: What advantages does this give me as a Solver?

A: Aside from a wider and more varied palette of Challenges, accelerated challenges will mean a shorter evaluation process and receiving awards more quickly.

 Q: Can I resubmit a modified Solution after the Seeker has viewed my initial submission?

A: Yes, the only thing you are unable to do is to modify within the Project Room the solution file that has been submitted to the Seeker. To modify your proposal, simply upload a modified version and submit.

 Q: How do I understand the process I need to complete in order to receive an award?

A: The process is relatively simple and you will receive a short process description once you open a Project Room to view the detailed challenge description. Here is a summary:

InnoCentive informs you that the Seeker has selected you for an award

Once you accept, you will receive an email containing several documents to complete:

  • An employer waiver to be completed by your employer stating that there is no conflict with your employment contract
  • An affidavit that requires your signature and witnessing by a notary (legal representative)
  • A request for a scan of a photographic identification document that is authenticated by a notary

 Q: Did anything change regarding my IP rights?

A: No – your IP-rights are exactly as they were and are defined within the Challenge Specific Agreement for each InnoCentive Challenge.

 Q: When do I need to complete the Solver verification documents?

A: Only if you are selected for an award. We do NOT advise or expect you to complete this process in advance, BUT we wish to avoid that you work on a solution proposal and then cannot be eligible to receive an award. Some advance preparation that might be useful:

  • Understand your employment contract to ensure you are able to accept awards for transferring a license or exclusive IP-rights to the solution you propose. Some employers do not allow this, while others limit restrictions to e.g. intellectual property in ‘non-competitive fields’.
  • Read the Challenge Specific Agreement for the Challenge you are interested in and consider if you can meet the requirements for award relating to IP etc.

 Once you click ‘Agree’ for the online Challenge Specific Agreement you will be able to see the full Challenge description and will also have access to a ‘Project Room’. This Project Room enables you to submit your solution proposal and also to receive and send messages to InnoCentive. You will receive a message to your Project Room from InnoCentive that describes the Solver evaluation process and also links to templates of the Solver verification documents you will need to complete in order to receive an award

 Q: Will I receive feedback from the Solver if I am not selected for an award?

A: Yes – nothing has changed regarding the Seeker’s obligation to provide feedback. For any Theoretical or RTP challenge, you will receive the Seeker’s feedback on your solution proposal. Ideation proposals do not require the Seeker to feedback.

As we will now be transmitting your solution proposal to the Seeker within 48 hrs of you submitting it, the opportunity for you to receive feedback from the Seeker during the posting exists – especially if you submit early in the posting period! 


Topics: Solvers, Challenges, Seekers

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