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InnoCentive FAQs

FAQs for InnoCentive

Who are InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace. Our proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, community of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Eli Lilly, NASA, Cleveland Clinic, AstraZeneca, and USSOCOM partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster and more cost effectively than ever before.

How did InnoCentive start?

The idea for InnoCentive came to Alph Bingham and Aaron Schacht in 1998 while they worked together at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company. They brainstormed the idea for InnoCentive – what they originally dubbed “Molecule.com” and later “BountyChem” – during a session focused on exploring the application of the Internet to business. In 2001, InnoCentive was launched by Jill Panetta, Jeff Hensley, Darren Carroll, and Alph Bingham, with majority seed funding from Eli Lilly. Darren Carroll led the launch effort and became the first CEO.

In 2005, InnoCentive was spun out of Eli Lilly with investments led by Spencer Trask of New York. In December 2006, shortly after president and CEO Dwayne Spradlin took the helm, the company signed an agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation to add a nonprofit area designed to generate science and technology solutions to pressing problems in the developing world.

In 2006, Prize4Life partnered with InnoCentive to launch the $1 million ALS Biomarker Prize, which was a Grand Challenge designed to find a biomarker to measure the progression of ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – in patients. In February 2011, the $1 million prize was awarded to Dr. Seward Rutkove for his creation and validation of a clinically viable biomarker. In early 2011, InnoCentive launched four more Grand Challenges on behalf of Life Technologies.

Today, InnoCentive is a privately-held, venture-backed firm that has experienced consistent year-over-year growth. Based just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, the company has posted more than 2,400 Challenges to its global Solver network, in addition to thousands of internal Challenges – those targeted at private communities such as employees – executed by customers using InnoCentive’s Challenge Platform. InnoCentive currently enables Challenges in a wide variety of disciplines, including Business and Entrepreneurship, Chemistry, Computer/Information Technology, Engineering and Design, Food and Agriculture, Life Sciences, Math and Statistics, and Physical Sciences.

InnoCentive’s Solver network now consists of over 400,000+ creative and talented individuals from over 195 countries and territories, with an added reach of millions through our strategic partnerships.

How does InnoCentive work?

InnoCentive specializes in connecting Seekers – commercial enterprises, public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations – to problem Solvers to help solve their most pressing problems and innovate faster and better. Put simply, we enable prize-based competitions whereby organizations can post their toughest Challenges to diverse audiences – employees, partners/customers, or our global network of 400,000+ InnoCentive problem Solvers – who try to solve them. Depending on the audience, Challenges often carry financial incentives to generate Solver interest and participation, and the management of intellectual property (IP) is of paramount importance.

Why should I use InnoCentive to find solutions for my organization's problems?

By joining our open innovation revolution, your organization increases its research and development capacity while reducing the risk and cost associated with research failure. Essentially, you pay for solutions instead of work, failure, or trial and error.

What is a Solver?

InnoCentive Solvers are the people or organizations who solve InnoCentive Challenges. Solvers can work within an organization that has deployed our Challenge Platform, they can be selected by an organization looking to connect to a specific audience (e.g., customers, partners, suppliers) or they can be part of our growing network of over 400,000 diverse and creative people from around the world who register (for free) through the InnoCentive Challenge Center to become an InnoCentive Solver.