Five Innovation Contests that Made Our Lives Easier

640px-HK_Food_Grass_Jelly_Canned_with_Tinplate_aFor hundreds of years, innovation has been accelerated through prized-based competitions, inspiring inventors, artists, entrepreneurs and others to push their brains to the limits to create new ideas, concepts and opportunities. From the breakfast table to sea travel and international flight, innovation competitions have revolutionized our daily lives. Here are five innovation contests that have made our lives easier:


Ford Drives into the Future with Open Innovation

LA1Every week there are new stories about companies launching open innovation and crowdsourcing initiatives. They hope they can successfully convert the awesome brainpower of the crowd into concrete innovations that propel them ahead in the marketplace.

One of the latest corporate giants to initiate an exciting new open innovation venture is the Ford Motor Company.

The multinational automobile maker has revealed plans of its Innovate Mobility Challenge Series to come up with novel mobility solutions in eight locations around the world.


Two Awesome Prize-Based Innovation Contests

cashThere’s nothing like the lure of big money prizes to entice inventive brains to create novel and/or disruptive innovations. The premise is as old as the hills and today, it’s still a popular way to innovate.

Two of the most prominent prize competitions of the day are the £10 million Longitude Prize  and GE’s $1 million ecomagination open innovation challenge to help accelerate technology development in Canada’s oil sands.


Saving Hawaii’s Rainforests with the Crowd

k1Hawaii’s native forests are under threat from invasive plants. Weeds such as Australian Tree Fern and African Tulip Tree are soaking up vital water resources that native flora needs. The situation is so serious that invasive species have been responsible for the destruction of more than half of Hawaii’s native forests.

To help combat the threat, Digital Globe and The Nature Conservancy are enlisting the crowd to help with a huge global initiative.


Awesome Summer Reads for the Scientific Mind

Alona_Beach,_BoholSummer is well and truly underway, and attention now turns to vacation time, long lazy days on a palm-tree fringed beach lapped by pristine waters.  When you’re not sipping cocktails or splashing around in the surf, you may well want to have your nose in a good read.  So, to keep the old grey matter ticking over during your time off, here are some awesome summer science reading recommendations:


Crowdsourcing for a Better World

arsenic-water-phytoremediation-filtration-Stephen-Honan-TED-Bangladesh-Condo.ca_-600x330If one or two minds can solve complex, seemingly intractable problems, just think what hundreds or thousands of brilliant brains can achieve. The potential and power of the crowd may well be helping companies to drive up their profits through innovations, but the paradigm is also one of the proven methodologies being used to tackle complex social issues and humanitarian problems.

IdeaConnection’s solvers recently supplied Chemists Without Borders with a number of novel solutions to help mitigate problems caused by arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh. But a little look at the crowdsourcing landscape will reveal numerous examples of the crowd being put into action for the common good.


Why Open Innovation Portals fail, and best practices for Success

jumpThe failure rate is high but the fixes are simple and intuitive. In this two-part article series Paul Wagorn, President of IdeaConnection draws on his extensive experience of open innovation to discuss the problems with OI portals and how they can be remedied.

Connecting to a world of knowledge has never been easier. The ability of the Internet to harness expertise from all parts of the planet in a wide range of fields is allowing companies to augment their talent base with the knowledge, skills, experiences and points of views of others. (more…)

Burn the Ships

Open Innovation successOpen Innovation, loosely defined as seeking solutions outside your company, can help a company dramatically increase its technology and product pipeline, but it is not without its challenges.  In this article, we explore a major obstacle that can impede the success of an open innovation based project, and how to remedy it.

I have seen and been involved with hundreds of open innovation projects.  Many of these projects succeed, and help the company push through major obstacles to be able to release a disruptive new product or technology.  But some fail – and one of the biggest reasons for failure is a lack of full commitment from the stakeholders in the project. (more…)

Unconventional Success

Problem Solving

How is it possible that IdeaConnection is able to put together a team of 5 people who don’t know each other to solve a problem that seems out of reach to a company’s 5000 dedicated researchers?

A look at what goes into IdeaConnection’s amazing success at solving some of the most difficult problems.  By Paul Wagorn, President of IdeaConnection. 

Innovate or die

Most medium to large sized companies bear an unrelenting pressure to continually release new products to fill market gaps, build up their technology pipelines and maintain a constant flow of new, proprietary intellectual property. (more…)

The Problems with Crowdsourcing and how to Fix them

crowdsourcing and open innovationWhat are the challenges of using the crowd to find solutions to technical problems, and how can we overcome them?

By Paul Wagorn, President of IdeaConnection

Loosely defined, crowdsourcing is a term used to describe using an open contest or crowd of people, all contributing to solve a problem or get something done.  The term was coined by Jeff Howe in Wired Magazine in 2006, and was officially added to the Oxford Dictionary just last year in its June 2013 update.

The premise (and promise) or crowdsourcing is that it allows organizations to solicit the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ by connecting to a large number of people who share a common goal, all at once. (more…)