Open Innovation Search for Innovate Diabetes Solutions

Published Nov-26-12

Open innovation competition awards top prize to a data mining concept that identifies people who are living with diabetes but not yet receiving enough of the care they need.

Sanofi-Aventis US, United States

The Story:

 Open Innovation Search for Innovate Diabetes Solutions To build on the success of its 2011 open innovation competition to look for innovative concepts to make life easier for people living with diabetes, Global healthcare provider Sanofi US once again turned to the crowd for their ideas and ingenuity.

The 2012 contest invited entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, and innovators from all over the USA to submit concepts for innovative solutions for the nearly 26 million people who are living with diabetes. Prizes included more than $200,000 in monetary awards, mentoring by industry leaders, and valuable real-time community responses to ideas.

Defining the Challenge

One of the problems experienced by organizations that host open innovation contests is they don’t always know what they are looking for. They want something novel and better than the status quo but are unable to define their needs precisely. As a result they are inundated with ideas, most of which are wide of the mark, and it becomes too costly in terms of time and resources to examine every proposal.

Sanofi used the crowd to shape its thinking about what to ask for, and the answers helped to dictate the competition’s design criteria and parameters. These included:

• To advance the quality, effectiveness and delivery of diabetes care in the US

• To enable people within the diabetes ecosystem to feel in control

• To reflect an understanding of how diabetes affects families, not just

Ideas were encouraged that would help one or more stakeholders in the diabetes system, principally people living with the metabolic disease, caregivers, family and friends, and healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

Submissions to the competition’s website had to be made during a four-week period in early 2012 and they were assessed by a panel of judges.

From this, five semi-finalists were chosen to take part in the Design and Prototyping Boot Camp where they received mentoring, were given a grounding in diabetes, and taught rapid prototyping methodologies.

Following boot camp the semi-finalists had to present their ideas at a 'demo day' which was screened on the competition website, allowing people to vote for their favorite concepts. Three were eliminated after this stage to leave two finalists who took part in a community uptake exercise to evaluate their prototype in a real-world setting.

Winning Concept

Ultimately, there could only be one winner and that was a collaboration between the National Health Index (NHI) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). Their concept is the n4a Diabetes Care Center which calls for diabetes care centers to be established, powered by the NHI database. This database pulls together material on disease prevalence, consumption patterns, costs, and outcomes that affect the healthcare system within specific geographical areas.

The aim is to be able to spot emerging gaps between healthcare consumers, healthcare resources, and outcomes and identify those people within certain risk groups who are under served, so that they can receive the appropriate services and support.

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