IdeaConnection’s Idea Rally Pays Off for Biotech Freelancer

Interview with IdeaConnection Problem Solver Harrys Jacob
By Jane Mundy
Harrys Jacob was skeptical about the Idea Rally® at first, but it sounded so fascinating that on a hunch, he decided to “give it a shot.” And that hunch paid off – to the tune of $11,000!

photo of Harrys JacobNow of course, Jacob, a biotechnologist from India, can’t wait to participate in another Idea Rally®. Last year, he and dozens others – from agriculture scientists to microbiologists to people from the industrial sector – took part in IdeaConnection’s Crop Yield Idea Rally®. IdeaConnection awarded Jacob $1,000 for his contribution to the rally and $10,000 for the best idea. “This was the first time I have won such an award, and I checked it a couple of times to make sure it was real,” says Jacob, chuckling.

Once he got the hang of how an Idea Rally® works, Jacob told his friends and colleagues in the scientific community, many of whom promptly registered with IdeaConnection.

“It turned out to be a wonderful experience, and not just financially,” says Jacob. “I was most impressed with how an idea could evolve from something very simple to one with several add-on features, simply by including suggestions and ideas from the scientific community.”

Jacob initiated an idea that involved utilizing the help from students in the scientific community to generate biologically important databases. (Due to IdeaConnection’s confidentiality clause, Jacob cannot go into any further details, but suffice to say, they came up with a feasible idea for IdeaConnection’s client.)

But it wasn’t all a cake-walk. “At first there were a few drawbacks,” Jacob explains, “but I had help from such a diverse group of scientists on how better to improve the idea, and by the end of the Rally we had a final plan of action that works effectively and feasibly.

“An Idea Rally® is a wonderful opportunity for people with like minds to come together and discuss ideas, in my case from the scientific community,” says Jacob, adding that collaboration is the key for any scientific success and effective collaboration is only possible through communication.

“With global online discussions such as the Crop Yield Idea Rally®, it is so important that we can collaborate with people in such diverse fields, people we don’t typically have the opportunity to work with, or even talk to. It is rare that we can work together globally and reach consensus on a single issue, but an Idea Rally® creates a platform for scientists to interact in a timely manner; it allows us to have an exchange of ideas that crosses boundaries of normal modes of scientific interaction.

To prove my case, this discussion on crop yield involved bio-informaticians, molecular biologists, agricultural and social scientists, all working together to contribute and suggest a plan of action. It really was amazing.”

Harrys K.C. Jacob is a graduate student in a joint PhD program with the Institute of Bioinformatics in Bangalore and Manipal University, where he is investigating cell signaling pathways in lung adenocarcinoma. His Idea Rally® award for Student Based Web Mining for Generation of Databases – Bioinformatics, will “help fund personal efforts to educate my grad students.”

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