Lockheed Martin’s Open Innovation Search for Cool Ideas

Published Feb-11-13

Lockheed Martin hosts a global open innovation challenge as part of its centennial celebrations with cash awards totaling $50,000. It was a call for ideas to solve important issues facing the global community.

Lockheed Martin, United States

The Story:

Lockheed Martin’s Open Innovation Search for Cool Ideas The American global aerospace, defense and security company Lockheed Martin has a long tradition of breakthrough innovations in numerous fields. To mark its 100th anniversary in 2012 the defense contractor launched its very first public open innovation initiative - ‘Innovate the Future Challenge’ - to benefit from the ideas of scientists, engineers, researchers, students, mathematicians from all over the world.

Good Ideas Can Come from Anywhere

In the competition literature the company was keen to point out that one of the important things it has learned from its 100-year legacy of innovation and breakthroughs is that good ideas can come from anywhere.

The contest was powered by Brightidea and held open for an eight-week period. During that time thousands of people from more than 130 countries submitted, shared and collaborated on ideas in such fields as healthcare, renewable energy and cyber security. They were able to ideate, discuss and debate in a specially created online environment.

"We believe in the power of science and technology to make positive changes in areas of common need," said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin. "Through this challenge and online forum, we are able to stimulate discussion on critical issues among a diverse community and identify potential solutions to wide-ranging issues."

Ultimately, fifteen finalists were selected and invited to present their ideas to a Lockheed Martin review committee that consisted of company employees and one independent third party member. Submissions were evaluated in three main areas: impact, creativity and expression.

Innovative Ideas

The Grand Prize Winner who received a check for $25,000 was Dr. Moble Benedict, Assistant Research Scientist in the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering for his idea entitled “Revolutionary Vertical Axis Micro Wind Turbine with Dynamic Blade Pitching for Urban Environments.”

The technology is an efficient small scale wind turbine design that is self-starting at speeds as low as 3.3 miles per hour and can capture energy regardless of variations in wind direction. This has been demonstrated by experiment. Potential applications that have been envisioned for the technology include small roof-top farms of micro-turbines that could provide cheaper energy in urban environments.

Second place went to James Mutitu, a researcher at the University of Delaware. He was awarded $10,000 for an idea to enhance the efficiency of solar cells by improving light-trapping techniques.

The open innovation competition also selected three third place winners who each received checks for $5,000. Their concepts were: more effective detection of malware through data fusion techniques, using online avatars to provide counselling services, and a concept of employing photonic sensors to detect tumors and check how the body is responding to cancer therapies.

The Next Steps

In addition to the cash awards all of the winners will receive assistance from Lockheed Martin in validating and further developing their ideas through technology incubation services.

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