Frequently Asked Questions
- What is InnoCentive?
- How did InnoCentive begin?
- How does InnoCentive work?
- What is the Challenge Center?
- What is an InnoCentive Seeker?
- I am a potential Seeker. How do I learn more about InnoCentive and post our problems on the website?
- What is an InnoCentive Solver?
- How do I register and what information is required?
- What do I do if I forget my username?
- What do I do if I forget my password?
- What is an InnoCentive Ideation Challenge?
- What is an InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge?
- What is an InnoCentive RTP Challenge?
- What is an InnoCentive eRFP Challenge?
- How is my intellectual property protected?
- What is My InnoCentive?
- What is a project room?
- Why do I need to provide my full name and contact information before I can view Challenge Details?
- How do I submit a solution?
- How can I ask questions about a particular Challenge?
- What is the deadline for submitting Challenges?
- After I submit a solution, how much time does it take to be notified of the results?
- How do I know these problems and awards are legitimate?
- What type of verification does InnoCentive do on the winning Solver?
- What’s in it for InnoCentive?
- What is a Team Project Room (TPR)?
- Why participate in a Team Project Room?
- How will I know which Challenges allow the use of Team Project Rooms?
- How do I set up a Team Project Room and invite others to join?
- What are the features in Team Project Rooms?
- What were InnoCentive's design goals for Team Project Rooms?
- Do I need to sign any additional agreements to use a Team Project Room?
- What are the "Rules of Engagement" for using a Team Project Room?
- What is a Room Leader?
- What are the rules associated with a Team Project Room?
- Can a Solver join a TPR and still submit a solution as an individual?
- How is the content of the final submission determined? Can a Room member express a dissenting opinion?
- If my team wins, how will the award amount be distributed among the team members?
- Can a member be removed from a Team Project Room?
- What if a Room Leader becomes unresponsive?
- FAQ Disclamer
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, Life Technologies, NASA, nature.com, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster and more cost effectively than ever before.
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 current 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 1,300 Challenges to its Global Solver Community, in addition to hundreds 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 community now consists of more than a quarter-million creative and talented individuals from nearly 200 countries, with an added reach of 12+ million through strategic partnerships with organizations including The Economist, Nature Publishing Group, and Popular Science.
InnoCentive specializes in connecting solution 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 community 250,000+ 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 treatments is of paramount importance.
The Challenge Center is where InnoCentive connects Seekers and Solvers with a myriad of the world’s toughest Challenges. Seeker organizations post their Challenges in the Challenge Center and offer registered Solvers significant financial awards for the best solutions. Solvers can search for Challenges based on their interests and expertise.
InnoCentive Seekers are progressive, innovation-driven companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations with tough business and R&D problems that need solutions. Our Seekers leverage our Challenge Platform, tools, methodologies, and expert services to identify needs and ideas, create Challenges, and post these Challenges to diverse and creative problem Solvers for the purpose of rapidly solving them and innovating faster and better than ever before possible.
For general information on how InnoCentive works with Seekers, please visit our Products & Services overview page. If you'd like to work with InnoCentive or need more detailed information, please call 855-CROWDNOW or contact us here and one of our representatives will call you to discuss your specific needs and how InnoCentive's model might work for you.
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 community of more than a quarter million diverse and creative people from around the world who register (for free) on InnoCentive.com to become an InnoCentive Solver.
- Go to https://www.innocentive.com/ar/registration/index.
- Create a username and password.
- Provide an e-mail address and select your country location.
- Type the characters you see into the text box on the registration page.
- Click on the Join Now button.
If you forget your username, you can log into My InnoCentive using your e-mail address and password. Once you log in you will be able to see your username on the top of the web page.
If you forget your password:
1. Go to: http://www.InnoCentive.com/ar/login/forgot.
2. Enter your username or e-mail address.
3. Press the Submit button. You will receive an e-mail with a temporary password.
4. Log in at https://gw.innocentive.com/ar/login/index with your temporary password.
5. Click the MY ACCOUNT tab and reset your password to something that is easy for you to remember. Be sure to press the Save Changes button.
If you do not receive the e-mail with your temporary password, please contact Support at innohelp [at] innocentive [dot] com.
A global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea. This could include ideas for a new product line, creative solutions to technical problems, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea for recruiting new customers. Ideation Challenges guarantee that at least one Solver will win an award. Additionally, the posting period is typically shorter than with other Challenge types, resulting in quicker time-to-solution. Ideation Challenges involve intellectual property licensing; a Solver grants the seeking organization a non-exclusive license to use any IP upon submission.
A feasible design that may not yet be reduced to practice. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver’s concept with detailed descriptions, specifications, supporting precedents, and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product, technical solution, or service. A Solver can expect a substantial financial reward if their submission is chosen as the winning solution by the seeking organization, but an award need only be made if all the Challenge criteria are met. Depending on the Challenge requirements, Solvers will be required to either transfer or license the IP in their solutions to the seeking organization.
A prototype that shows an idea in actual practice (though on a non-commercial scale). In an RTP Challenge, in addition to a detailed description, Solvers are asked to present physical evidence that proves their solution will work within the seeking organization’s specific needs, decision criteria, or manufacturing parameters. Solvers are given more time to generate data needed to support their proposals and prepare a response, and the financial awards are typically larger to reward the greater commitment required to work on these Challenges. Like the Theoretical Challenge, an award need only be made if all the Challenge criteria are met. Depending on the Challenge requirements, Solvers will be required to either transfer or license the IP in their solutions to the seeking organization.
A request for a partner or supplier to provide materials or expertise to help solve a business Challenge. Seeking organizations use the InnoCentive marketplace to find businesses or consultants that have already developed the technology they need or have the experience to help them develop it. Unlike other Challenges where a cash award is granted for the winning solution, eRFP winners typically negotiate the terms of the contract directly with the seeking organization.
We know how important your work is, and InnoCentive takes precautions to help protect both Seekers and Solvers. First, only InnoCentive and the Seeker that posted the problem can see any proposed solutions. Second, we require both the Seeker and the Solver to sign an agreement protecting confidential information.
My InnoCentive is the secure area of our web site for Solver interactions with InnoCentive. My InnoCentive is created when a Solver registers with InnoCentive. My InnoCentive provides links to Solver’s open (in progress) and closed Challenges. The Solver can edit his interests, public profile, and account details at My InnoCentive.
InnoCentive created a secure space online called a “project room”; where Solvers can access the secure and confidential communication forum pertaining to a particular Challenge. In the project room, you can review the Challenge details, submit your solution proposal, ask questions, and receive answers confidentially from the InnoCentive team.To open a project room, you must be a registered Solver and accept the Solver Agreement.
When you view Challenge Details, you will be viewing confidential information posted by InnoCentive Seekers. In order to ensure security for both the Solver and Seeker, we need your legal name and contact information.
To submit to a Challenge:
- Go to http://www.InnoCentive.com
- Log in using your username and password.
- Select the Challenge from your list of Open Challenges in My IC. Or click a Challenge listed in the Challenge Center, click on the View Challenge Details button and agree to the Challenge Agreement (this opens a project room for the Challenge).
- Create your initial solution document using these accepted formats; Microsoft Word (.doc), Text (.txt), Rich Text (.rtf), or an editable PDF (.pdf).
- Save this document on your computer. You can then create additional files of any file type as attachments in your submission.
- Click on the My Solution tab, select the browse button to access the initial submission file on your computer. There is second browse button option to upload up to 10 additional attachments, if needed.
- You have the option to enter a title for your solution.
- Press the Send to InnoCentive button.
To ask questions, you must open a project room for the Challenge:
1. Click the ‘Messages’ link at the top of your project room for the Challenge. After you click the link, the Compose New Message button appears.
2. Click the button to enter your question for the InnoCentive Challenge.
You can review the Challenge details, submit your solution proposal, ask questions, and receive answers confidentially from the InnoCentive team. You can also click the Messages button on the right side of the screen in your project room.
Seekers can establish a deadline for receiving proposed solutions. Be sure you submit your solution proposal as soon as possible, even if it is before the deadline. When choosing between solutions of similar quality, the earlier submission is likely to be preferred. If Seekers receive a solution proposal they want to accept, they reserve the right to award a Challenge before the deadline. InnoCentive recommends that you submit your solution proposals upon completion without waiting until the deadline date. Unless otherwise specified in the Challenge statement, all submissions must be received by 11:59 PM (U.S. Eastern Time) on the date of the deadline.
It depends. Seekers typically complete their evaluations within 2 to 6 months after the Challenge deadline. You will be notified if your submission is accepted or rejected. Where available, we also include detailed feedback from the Seeker about your submission.
InnoCentive only posts problems and awards from reputable Seeker companies and not-for-profit organizations, such as Proctor & Gamble, Eli Lilly and the Rockefeller Foundation. We have taken great efforts to make sure that our Solvers are treated fairly by our Seeker clients. We endeavor to contractually bind our Seeker clients, through the InnoCentive Seeker agreement, to provisions relating to the payment of awards to the Solution that meets all of the stated criteria of a particular Challenge. Most importantly, we have established a track record of paying out more than $9 million in awards to over 675 winning Solvers over the last ten years. We pride ourselves on the trust we have built up with both our loyal Solvers and our satisfied Seeker clients. To see previously awarded InnoCentive Challenges, please visit our Awarded Challenges page.
Once a Solver submission has been chosen as the winning solution, InnoCentive will conduct a Solver verification process where the Solver’s identity will be confirmed by receiving a photo ID, such as a passport, the Solver will be required to sign, have notarized, and return an Affidavit re-affirming the Solver agreement they have signed, and InnoCentive requires that the Solver’s employer or academic institution sign an Employer Waiver document waiving any and all IP rights that they might have to the Solver’s submission as a result of an employment agreement.
Quite simply, we work hard to make the world a better place, one Challenge at a time.
A Team Project Room ("TPR") is a secure online workspace that allows a group of Solvers to collaborate as a team to solve an InnoCentive Challenge. The team's solution is developed and agreed among team members in the TPR, and is submitted to InnoCentive as a single proposal by the Team Leader.
- Some Challenges inherently call for insight from multiple Solvers with diverse knowledge and skills. By working with other Solvers, you could increase your chances of submitting a winning solution
- Some solvers already work in teams. By participating in a TPR, the terms for Intellectual Property and award sharing among the team members are worked out in advance
Team Project Rooms are available for most Challenges. These Challenges are designated by the team icon.
Setting up a Team Project Room is a simple process. First, find a Challenge that supports teaming. Second, create a team. Third, click on the Team Room Form tab in the Challenge's project room. The following information is required:
- The Room Leader's username
- The Maximum Number of Room members and the Award Distribution Scheme (Equal Payout or Room Leader decides)
- The username(s) who are being invited
Once we receive the form, we will create the Team Project Room and work with you to invite the other Team Members to join.
Team Project Rooms are an extension of the individual Project Rooms currently available to you on InnoCentive.com. Each TPR is linked with one specific Challenge and one team of Solvers. After signing the appropriate legal agreements and joining a TPR, a Solver has access to the full details of the Challenge. In addition, the TPR provides:
- A discussion forum where members can exchange ideas, and where notifications are posted alerting members to important events occurring within the Room
- A document exchange capability, where members can upload, review, and rate documents that may be used in the development of their solution
- A page from which the team's solution(s) are managed, reviewed, approved, and forwarded to InnoCentive
- A message center that enables the Room Leader to ask questions about the Challenge and receive replies from InnoCentive Client Services
- To be very simple and easy for Solvers to understand
- To have rules that are fair and reasonable, and protective of the interests of all participants
- To establish a clear and appropriate IP transfer structure for the work of the team
- To create an effective collaboration platform that protects each team member's rights while preventing any single member from unduly obstructing the process
Each TPR has exactly one "Room Leader". Any Solver in good standing can request that a new TPR be created and designate themselves as the Room Leader. The Leader then invites additional members to join the Room (subject to the controls described below). The role of the Room Leader is central to ensuring that the team produces an agreed solution whose IP can be transferred. The decision rights of the Room Leader are balanced by the rights of each member to express their view on the solution – and even to disagree with it.
There are a few key rules governing the use of a TPR:
- All members of a Room must agree to the Challenge Specific Agreement and the Team Project Room "contract" when joining a Room. Members sign a click-through agreement which confirms their agreement to the terms, and to the current room membership. Two key terms of the contract are the maximum number of Room members and the award distribution scheme. (See items below for more details on these terms.) Any change to the terms must be agreed by all Room members; the system provides a means for the Room Leader to propose changes and get approval from members.
- The Room Leader invites Members to the team, up to the agreed maximum size. Members can propose and comment on new members in the Discussion area of the TPR, and once agreed upon, the Room Leader may invite new members to the Team Project Room by sending an email to innohelp [at] innocentive [dot] com. The email must include:
- The Team Leader's username and email
- The name and number of the Challenge
- The username(s) and email addresses of the member(s) who are being invited
No. Once a Solver joins a TPR, they are no longer eligible to submit a solution as an individual for the same Challenge, and cannot join another TPR for the same Challenge. Specifically:
- They are ineligible to submit a solution for that challenge via any channel other than the original Team Project Room they joined
- They are ineligible to join another Room for the same challenge, or create their own individual room
- If a Solver has already submitted a solution for a Challenge, they cannot join a Team Project Room for the same Challenge
The Room Leader determines the content of the Room's solution submission(s); Each Room member may express a "dissenting opinion" on a submission, which is also provided to the Seeker. Each solution submission must go through a TPR review process before it can be sent to InnoCentive. The process is:
- The submission is reviewed by Room members during a "comment period" prior to forwarding to InnoCentive; Room members either approve the submission or provide a dissenting opinion
- Failure to respond during the comment period is treated as approval for the submission
- The Room leader determines if any dissenting opinions warrant revising the submission; if so, a new comment period begins
- All dissenting opinions are forwarded to the Seeker together with the submission; it's up to the Seeker to evaluate the potential impact
- Any due diligence failure involving any team member invalidates the entire solution
- Rooms provide collaborative authoring tools, rating and voting mechanisms to facilitate arriving at an agreed solution, but InnoCentive will not arbitrate
One of the decisions that must be made when a Team Project Room is created is how the award will be distributed. There are two options: 1) Equal Payout, in which the total award amount is distributed equally among all team members, or 2) Room Leader Decides, in which half of the award is distributed equally among all team members, and the remaining half of the award is allocated by the Room Leader at their discretion. This decision is made when the room is created, and can only be changed if all Room Members agree to the change in terms.
Yes, a member can be removed from a Room for violating the Room contract (e.g. for publically releasing confidential information). InnoCentive has the sole right to remove a member. In the event that a team member is removed:
- All contributed IP from a removed member stays with the Room
- Information regarding the member's removal will be communicated to the Seeker; the Seeker will assess the potential impact and determine how the Room's submission will be treated
- If any member violates the Room contract, InnoCentive reserves the right to invalidate and disband the Room
Should a Room Leader become unresponsive, all members must agree on a new Leader or the Room is disbanded. Failure of the Room Leader to respond within 14 days qualifies members to select a new leader. Simply send us an email at innohelp [at] innocentive [dot] com and we will work with you to appoint a new Room Leader.