Most of the crowdsourcing websites we've looked at deal with small projects that are design or task oriented. InnoCentive targets a different need: It connects corporations, government agencies and nonprofits with talented freelancers for collaboration on major projects. The prize money awarded the winning proposals runs in the thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
InnoCentive's website says, "We outsource innovation solutions from the world’s smartest people, who compete to provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy, scientific and technical challenges." It works with over 13 million freelancers, using cloud-based technologies to allow businesses to communicate with them in order to develop the best solutions to their problems.
Rather than product categories, this crowdsourcing website is divided into 10 challenge disciplines: Business & Entrepreneurship, Chemistry, Computer & Information Technology, Engineering & Design, Food & Agriculture, Life Sciences, Math & Statistics, Physical Sciences, Requests for Partners and Social Innovations. These are highly technical fields, so most projects are neither simple nor quick. Nonetheless, using the crowdsourcing platform has resulted in companies finding solutions to their biggest challenges in 45 to 90 days on average.
Businesses use the InnoCentive cloud-based system to post their problems or ideas. InnoCentive will consult with you on the prize offered. All legal fees and other expenses are included in the prize amount. The InnoCentive team of experts crafts your needs into challenges that are posted to employees, groups and teams, who then post their suggested solutions.
The challenge experts then discuss and rank the solutions before sending them to the business, which picks the one it likes best. InnoCentive grants the award money to the contributors and transfers the appropriate rights to the business.
InnoCentive is for businesses needing heavy-duty brainpower to solve major challenges. The process is not cheap, but you will have access to millions of experts in their fields. InnoCentive also helps synthesize your idea or need into a challenge their experts can think about, and it evaluates the proposals to help you make the best decision. Once you have chosen the right solution for you, it handles the payments and transfers of rights. It's a powerhouse crowdsourcing platform that can solve major technical, scientific or business problems in a matter of months.
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