The Benefits of Open Innovation Incentive Prizes

November 21, 2018 By IdeaConnection

Thomas KalilThomas Kalil knows a thing or two about prize-based competitions.  He served both Presidents Obama and Clinton in the Office of Science and Technology Policy helping to launch science and technology initiatives. Among his achievements were working with Congress to pass legislation that gave federal agencies the authority to support incentive prizes of up to $50 million.

Today he’s the Chief Innovation Officer at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization and he's just shared his insights into solving problems through competitions, to the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Kalil first became interested in the role that incentive prizes can play in innovation in the 1990s when he read Longitude which described the prize offered by the British Parliament in the 18th century to anyone who could solve the problem of calculating longitude while at sea.

During his time in the Obama administration he recruited open innovation experts to the Office of Science and Technology Policy and worked with the General Services Administration to launch

In the Stanford interview piece, he sets out a number of benefits of well-designed incentive prizes.  They include:

  • Setting a goal without having to decide in advance which team or approach is most likely to be successful.
  • Paying only for results
  • Leveraging investment that can exceed the value of the prize purse
  • Encouraging fresh approaches by reaching beyond the “usual suspects.

Kalil is a big believer in  Joy’s Law: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

To read the full interview click here.

If you are looking to take part in a prize-based innovation contest go to IdeaConnection's list of online innovation and invention challenges.  It's the world's biggest list of live challenges with new ones added continually.


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