Open Innovation Contest Tackles Autism Housing Problems

Published Aug-15-16

Breakthrough:
Breakthrough housing options for adults with autism.

Company:
Autism Speaks, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Contest Tackles Autism Housing Problems Currently, the majority of adults with autism live with their parents because there are few other options available to them. But what will they do and how will they live when their aged folks are no longer around or are unable to tend to their needs? That's one of the big challenges facing the autism community today.

To try and find innovative housing solutions, leading autism science and advocacy organization Autism Speaks launched a global open innovation contest - the $150,000 House to Home Prize.

Solutions had to be more than just about the physical space that a home provides. They also had to take into account such factors as the safety of residents, community integration, public transportation and access to employment opportunities.

The contest was hosted on the HeroX open platform, which according to its CEO Christian Cotichini "was founded on the principle that the world’s best ideas come from non-traditional sources."

Because the needs of people with autism vary, the competition was split into three categories:

• 24/7 support
• Daily support
• Weekly support (a few times a week)

Submissions and Judging

More than 250 competitors from 63 countries submitted multi-layered ideas. They were judged by a panel that comprised of thought leaders, autism experts, people with autism and parents of children and adults with ASD (autism spectrum disorder).

"The number, quality and diversity of House to Home Prize entries far exceeded our expectations and made the process very competitive," said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “We were pleased to see tremendous innovation, respect for what people with autism need and want, and the understanding that the community can play a vital role in addressing the needs of adults with autism."

Winners

The category winners each received a $50,000 prize for their ideas.

The winner of the 24/7 support was CLO’s Neighborhood Network, Lenexa, Kansas. Their idea turns a typical neighborhood into a support community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, seniors, people with autism spectrum disorders and those who are visually or hearing impaired. It involves smart-home technology, members of the local community, trained staff, remote monitoring and social networks.

The daily support category was won by JobPath from New York City. Their Changing Housing into Community (CHIC) concept provides people living independently with a support network to manage their home. The team behind CHIC has also created an app called 'Pieced' that allows people to hire their own staff.

The winner of the weekly support category was First Place AZ, Phoenix, Arizona for a prototype for young adults that involves three components: integrated residential units where they can live independently in a supportive environment, a Transition Academy to help with vocational and life skills and a leadership institution to facilitate research, inform public policy and train professionals and parents to help young adults with autism.

Helping Adults with Autism to Thrive

Solutions did not have to executed to be eligible to take part in the competition, but all the winning concepts are at various stages of implementation.

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