A leitmotif of the past 30 years, globalisation has driven a significant compression of time and distance – a shrinking of the world. No longer are companies siloed off in territorial compartments, only interacting with those who share the same nationality. There is a global talent pool and organisations are realising that accessing this group is key to accelerating innovation and discovering diverse viewpoints that otherwise would not have been found. InnoCentive and crowdsourcing are built upon this belief – that however talented an internal company team is, there exists a ‘long-tail’ of global innovators who can provide truly great solutions.
But does the reality live up to these ideals? Does a Challenge posted on the InnoCentive website really receive a global response? And even if solutions come from every corner of the globe, do they offer breakthrough ideas? In reality is it just the well-endowed research labs, universities and private inventors of the West that actually win Challenges?
Firstly to look at where Solvers come from; being based in Boston, MA there is a long history of Solvers originating from North America and other countries of the Anglosphere. However, when comparing the graphs below, a distinct change in the geographical location of Solvers has developed over time. Asia in particular has seen expansive growth - predominantly driven by the strength of China and the subcontinent. This is a trend we expect to continue: with greater levels of internet connectivity, English ability, academic standards, and scientific spending, as a knock on effect these countries should continue to see growing numbers registering as InnoCentive Solvers.
So InnoCentive has more Solvers coming from diverse countries around the world, but do they provide great solutions and actually solve Challenges?
Looking at the data – the answer is yes. In 2005, for all Challenges run, winning Solvers originated from only 11 countries. By 2010 this number was 36 countries. Last year it was 47. In the first three months of 2016, we’ve already awarded Solvers from a wider range countries than we did in the entire of 2007. Grouping winners based on continents, 2014 saw more winners, and more money, won by Solvers in Asia than those in Europe. Further analysis of the dollar amounts awarded shows that 2013 was the first year that the USA didn’t lead the overall charts – innovative researchers in Germany led their country to first place by more than $200,000. These statistics all go to show that during the 15 years that InnoCentive has been running Challenges, there has been a huge growth and diversification of our now 375,000 strong Solver Network. Winning Solvers are coming from all six continents, speak over 30 languages, and bring decades of experience with them to provide innovation solutions to Challenges.
So what does this all mean?
If you’re a Seeker, you can be guaranteed that a diverse group of individuals and companies from all corners of the globe will be viewing, entering and potentially winning your Challenge. This globalised network gives you unprecedented access to opinions and expertise from around the world – it is often from those industries and locations that you would never have expected, that the most insightful submissions arise. InnoCentive acts as the mediator and facilitator in this process; protecting intellectual property, ensuring anonymity if needed, and then providing guidance for objective, criteria-based evaluation.
If you’re a Solver, wherever you are from, whatever your background, if you have the best solution to a Challenge, you can win. Open innovation methodologies were not developed to glamourise request for proposals that only those who have previously worked with the company, government agency or charity then have a chance of winning. Crowdsourcing is driving the democratisation of innovation – a meritocratic exercise that champions results rather than connections.
The trends mentioned above are only going to get ever more pronounced as the world continues to globalise. If you want to become part of this movement; either in providing solutions, or positioning your innovation issues to the crowd, please get in touch through the appropriate link below: