Open Innovation Contests Drive Breakthroughs

Whether it’s coming up with novel ways that allow astronauts to poop safely in space, inventing life-saving medical devices or finding solutions to such complex problems as global warming, open innovation contests are powerful catalysts for groundbreaking advances.

We feature many on the IdeaConnection website, brilliant examples of creativity, ingenuity and what happens when great minds work toward a common goal.  Here is just a little flavor of three of them.

NASA’s Space Poop Challenge

The challenge: the need for a safe way for space suits to contain bodily waste for 144 hours or more.

The solution: three submissions were selected as overall winners with the main prize going to a small airlock in the groin area of the space suit through which objects such as diapers can be inserted and inflated. This would allow astronauts to change their underwear.  The inventor Thatcher Cardon said his inspiration came from keyhole surgery.

Read about the challenge here.

GE and Statoil Open Innovation Challenge

The challenge: find new ways to reduce the use of water in onshore oil and gas operations.

The solution: four winning ideas were selected, including a low-pressure, low temperature mechanical evaporation technology that purifies wastewater no matter the source, and a technology that uses lasers to make the inner walls of downhole production pipes water repellent.

Read about the challenge here

House to Home Prize by Autism Speaks

The challenge: find innovative housing solutions for autistic adults to live independently.

The solution: among the winners were a concept of a support network that helps adults manage their home, and a concept for young adults that consists of three components – residential units so they can live independently, an academy to help with life and vocational skills and an institution to facilitate research and inform public policy.

Read about the challenge here.

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