Questions about 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.

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 “” 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 2,000 Challenges to its global Solver community, 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 380,000+ creative and talented individuals from nearly 200 countries, with an added reach of millions through our strategic partnerships.

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 375,000+ 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) treatments is of paramount importance.
The Challenge Center is where InnoCentive connects Seekers and Solvers with a myriad of the world’s toughest Challenges. Seekers 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.

Questions about InnoCentive Seekers

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 Offering. If you’d like to work with InnoCentive or need more detailed information, please call 1-855-276-9366  (US) or +44 (0) 2072240110 (Europe), or contact us online and one of our representatives will call you to discuss your specific needs and how InnoCentive’s model might work for you.

“The most successful Solvers usually ask a few direct questions early on to make sure they understand the problem correctly. They may also mention an idea of two briefly to see if I think they are reasonable in my and the Seeker’s opinions. They are not looking for yes or no if it will be a winning solution, but just making sure there is not some “red flag” item that they are missing where they might be wasting their time from the start.”

Michael Albarelli, PhD, InnoCentive Challenge Expert

If you have a question about a Challenge, just ask! To ask a question, click on the “messages” tab in your project room for any Challenge. One of our Challenge Experts will answer your question or pass it along to the Seeker promptly.

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Questions about InnoCentive Solvers

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 380,000 diverse and creative people from around the world who register (for free) on to become an InnoCentive Solver.

To register for an InnoCentive Solver account:

  1. Go to
  2. Create a username and password.
  3. Provide an e-mail address and select your country location.
  4. Type the characters you see into the text box on the registration page.
  5. Be sure to read and agree to the InnoCentive Terms of use.
  6. Click on the Join Now button.

After you complete the registration form, you will receive an e-mail confirming your registration. Follow the instructions in the e-mail to verify and complete your registration.

If you forget your username, you can log into My IC 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 experience any other log in issues, you can contact Support here.
If you forget your password:

1. Go to:
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 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

Please send an email to and we will delete your account within 1 business day. You will receive a confirmation email that it has been deleted.

Questions about InnoCentive Challenge Types

An Ideation Challenge is 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 (IP) licensing; a Solver grants the Seeker 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 Seeker, 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 intellectual property (IP) in their solutions to the Seeker.
An RTP is a Reduction to Practice Challenge to find 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 Seeker’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 intellectual property (IP) in their solutions to the Seeker.
An eRFP is an electronic Request for Partners or suppliers to provide materials or expertise to help solve a business Challenge. Seekers 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.

Questions about MY IC, Project Rooms and Submissions

My IC is the secure area of our web site for Solver interactions with InnoCentive. My IC is created when a Solver registers with InnoCentive. My IC provides links to Solver’s open (in progress) and closed Challenges. The Solver can edit his/her interests, public profile, and account details at My IC.
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 Challenge Specific 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:

  1. Go to
  2. Log in using your username and password.
  3. 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 Specific Agreement (this opens a Project Room for the Challenge).
  4. Create your initial solution document using these accepted formats; Microsoft Word (.doc), Text (.txt), Rich Text (.rtf), or an editable PDF (.pdf).
  5. Save this document on your computer. You can then create additional files of any file type as attachments in your submission.
  6. 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.
  7. You have the option to enter a title for your solution.
  8. Press the Send to InnoCentive button.

A confirmation email of receipt of your submission will be sent to your registered email address.

Submission forwarding occurs during the Challenge. Once your submission has been forwarded to the Seeker, you cannot edit it. Since submissions will be forwarded to the Seeker throughout the Challenge, please make sure you upload only a finished proposal. You can submit an updated version of your proposal only as a new submission. If you submit an updated version of your proposal, please clearly indicate the new items and/or edits compared to your previous submission. This will allow the Seeker to quickly find the new information and determine how it improves your submission.
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 1 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 NASA, Eli Lilly and Lumina 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 Seekers, 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 $48 million in awards to over 2,400 winning Solutions over the last fifteen years. We pride ourselves on the trust we have built up with both our loyal Solvers and our satisfied Seekers. 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 Challenge Specific Agreement they have signed, and InnoCentive requires on Theoretical and RTP Challenges that the Solver’s employer or academic institution sign an Employer Waiver document waiving any and all intellectual property (IP) rights that they might have to the Solver’s submission as a result of an employment agreement.
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 Challenge can see any proposed solutions. Second, we require both the Seeker and the Solver to sign an agreement protecting confidential information. You can learn more about how your IP is treated depending on the Challenge type here.
Quite simply, we work hard to make the world a better place, one Challenge at a time.

Questions about Team Project Rooms

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 (IP) 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:

  1. The Room Leader’s username
  2. The Maximum Number of Room members and the Award Distribution Scheme (Equal Payout or Room Leader decides)
  3. The usernames and email addresses of the member(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. We advise sending a Team Project Room request no less than one week before the Challenge deadline.

Team Project Rooms are an extension of the individual Project Rooms currently available to you on 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 intellectual property (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
Yes. In addition to the Challenge Specific Agreement, you will need to sign a “Team Project Room Terms of Use” agreement. This agreement provides details about the “Rules of Engagement” for using a Team Project Room.
To achieve the design goals for TPRs, InnoCentive developed a set of rules that govern the way teams work within the tool. These rules are enabled and enforced by the software, and are also codified in the legal “Team Project Room Terms of Use” agreement that must be electronically signed by each Solver participating in a team.
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:

  1. All members of a Room must agree to the Challenge Specific Agreement and the Team Project Room Terms of Use 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 agreement 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.
  2. 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 The email must include:
    1. The Team Leader’s username and email
    2. The name and number of the Challenge
    3. The usernames and email addresses of the member(s) who are being invited
No. Once a Solver joins a Team Project Room (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:

  1. They are ineligible to submit a solution for that Challenge via any channel other than the original Team Project Room they joined
  2. They are ineligible to join another Room for the same Challenge, or create their own individual room
  3. 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:

  1. 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
  2. Failure to respond during the comment period is treated as approval for the submission
  3. The Room Leader determines if any dissenting opinions warrant revising the submission; if so, a new comment period begins
  4. All dissenting opinions are forwarded to the Seeker together with the submission; it’s up to the Seeker to evaluate the potential impact
  5. Any due diligence failure involving any team member invalidates the entire solution
  6. 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:

  1. All contributed intellectual property (IP) from a removed member stays with the Room
  2. 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
  3. 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 of the Team Project Room 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 and we will work with you to appoint a new Room Leader.

FAQ Disclaimer

This FAQ page is for informational purposes only and does not represent or create a contract between the reader or a Solver and InnoCentive. All legal representations and obligations are set forth exclusively in the Website Terms of Use and in each InnoCentive Challenge Specific Agreement.