The State of Michigan has appropriated 1 million dollars for a Challenge seeking to prevent the movement of invasive carp species into Lake Michigan from the Illinois River through the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). The Seeker is looking for new and novel ideas to function independently or in conjunction with those deterrents already in place to prevent carp movement into the Great Lakes or other locations.
This Challenge launches Stage 1 of a planned two-stage Challenge. Stage 1 is a global call for all ideas, while Stage 2 is a continuation of work to establish proof of concept and/or testing protocols. Winners from Stage 1 will present their solutions in person to a judge’s panel in Stage 2 for final awards.
Protecting the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater, is of global importance. In the USA, millions of dollars and countless hours have been spent over that last 20 years trying to control and prevent the spread of invasive bighead and silver carp (also known as Asian carp). Multiple technologies are currently being deployed, including a series of three electric dispersal barriers in the Chicago Area Waterways System. However, current measures are not 100% effective in preventing invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes. As recently as June 2017, a large silver carp was captured beyond the electric barriers, just nine miles from Lake Michigan. The prevailing concern is that a more sustainable and innovative solution is needed.
We are asking the Solver community to come up with viable new solutions that will prevent the migration of these fish into Lake Michigan. Ideally, solutions could be used in many other areas in the USA as well. The goal is to prevent invasive carp movement, directly or indirectly, without damage to the ecosystem, other species or waterway navigation (commercial and recreational). What makes this Challenge especially complex is the number of concepts that have been and are currently being researched. Solvers should make sure their ideas are original or build upon existing technologies before they put too much time into a particular solution.
To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their IP rights to the Seeker. Please note that any proposal submitted will not be treated as confidential information. Accordingly, Solvers should take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their proprietary rights in their solutions prior to submitting their written proposal for consideration in the Challenge (e.g. filing provisional or full patent applications on the solution described in the written proposal submitted prior to submission).
Submissions to this Challenge – Stage 1 must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on October 31, 2017. Late submissions will not be considered.
This Challenge consists of two main stages:
This posting only launches the Stage 1 competition. The Seeker has a total cash prize purse of $200,000 for Stage 1. The cash prize awards will be contingent upon critical analysis and evaluation by the Seeker and the judging panel appointed by the Seeker. Up to 8 awards will be made for the best submissions that meet or exceed the Solution Requirements. The cash prize awards for each winning solution will be $25,000. No cash prizes are guaranteed unless submissions meet or exceed the Solution Requirements. Partial cash prizes may be considered for solutions that meet some, but not all, of the criteria. No award will be smaller than $10,000 for Stage 1.
To receive a Stage 1 award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their IP rights to the Seeker, but will grant the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. Please note that any proposal submitted will not be treated as confidential information. Accordingly, Solvers should take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their proprietary rights in their solutions prior to submitting their written proposal for consideration in the Challenge (e.g. filing provisional or full patent applications on the solution described in the written proposal submitted prior to submission).
Stage 2 envisions a total prize cash prize purse of $500,000. Individual awards are expected to be in the $50,000 – $250,000 range. In addition to the direct monetary award for Stage 2, the Seeker intends to invite industry, non-profit organizations, and venture capital representatives to be present at the Stage 2 presentations and testing kick-off. Participating industry and venture capital representatives will also have the ability to seek and secure potential business deals with Solvers. The event will take place in Michigan (more details will be provided later).
After the Challenge submission deadline, a Judging Panel, chosen by the Seeker, will evaluate the submissions and make a decision with regards to the winning solution(s). The Judging Panel may be composed of scientists, engineers, and other technical experts. All persons or entities that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions. Decisions by the Seeker cannot be contested.
State or federal employees acting within the scope of their employment are ineligible to apply. Any state or federal employee who seeks to apply in his or her personal capacity is advised to consult with his or her ethics official prior to applying. State or federal conflict of interest statutes may be applicable.
If you are a state or federal contractor or financial assistance recipient (i.e. grants and cooperative agreements), or are employed by one, your participation in this Challenge may also be restricted. State and federal contractors and financial assistance recipients may not obtain reimbursement for the cost of developing a proposed solution to this Challenge as a direct charge to their agreements with state or federal agencies. These organizations and their employees are eligible to compete otherwise if consistent with their corporate or institutional policies.
Any persons involved in the formulation of this Challenge or participating in the judging of this Challenge are ineligible to apply.
About the Seeker: The State of Michigan is deeply committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. The Great Lakes represent 20% of the world’s fresh surface water resources and 90% of North America’s fresh surface water. Michigan’s four Great Lakes, more than 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes provide recreation to more than 1 million anglers and over 900,000 registered boaters and support an $38 billion tourism economy. Preventing invasive carp in the Great Lakes is a priority in Michigan, as expressed by the Governor-led, legislator-approved funding for this challenge to bring the power of innovation to bear on this urgent problem.
What is a Theoretical Challenge?
An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service. For details about treatment of IP rights, please see the Challenge-Specific Agreement.