Innovation Program Manager Kevin Mobbs, shares some insights into the RTP Challenges.
Plug and play solutions to long-standing, or technically demanding, problems are few and far between. Almost all novel technologies require considerable development before they are ready for roll out. This is the reality of product & process development – it is very hard work!
As Thomas Edison said “Opportunities are missed by many because they wear overalls and look like work!” Using a Challenge Driven Innovation approach to source solutions, it is key to focus in on the aspects of the problem most amenable to the community of Solvers your channel addresses. There is a great deal we can do to properly position Challenge statements in order to stimulate Solver engagement and perhaps the most influential factor driving this is the deliverable required from the Solver.
Many Reduction to Practice (RTP) Challenges require Solvers to provide solutions, or materials, that have been validated. While there are many advantages to the Seeker organization of having a ‘menu’ of solutions available to be delivered and tested by their in-house experts, the Solver perspective is somewhat different. Typically, fewer Solvers engage in RTP Challenges than in Theoretical Challenges and so some diversity is lost from the ‘menu’ of potential solutions. Higher awards for RTP Challenges are intended to engage Solvers and compensate their investment of time and materials, but this assumes that most Solvers with the insight and intellectual power to innovate a solution also have access to the resources required to produce e.g. a novel nanostructure, or a high-flow particle filter. (more…)