Study Case: Innocentive (2)

Scanning open innovation marketplace.

Study Case: Innocentive (2)

Other numbers and thoughts about Innocentive (at December 31st, 2016)

Winning Solvers/Solutions

2016: 230 winning solvers/solutions
2015: 317 winning solvers/solutions
2014: 437 winning solvers/solutions
2013: 294 winning solvers/solutions
2012: 303 winning solvers/solutions

Note: The number of challenges is smaller as there are more winning solvers listed for the same challenge

Top Solvers

(This is an annual top of the solvers who won the biggest cash awards (there is a minimum limit set) and solvers who won more than 3 challenges in a year)

Year: 2016
For Most Award Amount: 13 / 9 anonymous
For Most Challenges Won: 5 / 1 anonymous

Year:  2015
For Most Award Amount: 11/ 6 anonymous
For Most Challenges Won: 16/ 6 anonymous

Year: 2014
For Most Award Amount: 10 / 5 anonymous
For Most Challenges Won: 10 / 4 anonymous

Year: 2013
For Most Award Amount: 10 / 7 anonymous
For Most Challenges Won:11 / 7 anonymous

Year: 2012
For Most Award Amount: 10 / 5 anonymous
For Most Challenges Won: 10 / 7 anonymous

Social media presence:

Facebook: 12, 057 Likes
Twitter: 10,400 Followers
LinkedIn winning solvers group (closed): 881 members
LinkedIn solvers group: 1,741 members
Blog numbers (views, visitors, other analytics): unknown
Website numbers (views, visitors, other analytics): unknown

Side note:

Now, if we compare these numbers with the ones posted on their website and look at the balance between the over 300,000 pool of solvers they say they have and the ones that really play the game and win it (about 1,000 in all times, as the numbers indicate), the difference is substantial.

So, I think that the number of 300,000 is a marketing number. It most probably reflects the Innocentive’s marketeers analytics coming from digital marketing, ads, blog posts, email marketing, etc … in terms of visitors and views.

In terms of marketing, their writing on the blog team if fully made of seekers oriented departments. No solver representative, and as expected, very few articles about and around solvers, almost none solver promotion.

What we don’t know and it matters a lot for solvers to know/have/get:

(Note: the below points are things that solvers request from Innocentive from over 6 years now in the winning solver group on LinkedIn)

1. A TOP 10 for each challenge

A solver may not win (be in the first 1-4 winners for a challenge), but s/he may be in the Top 10 shortlisted solutions.

This kind of information is of vital importance for a solver as it offers a clear image about his/her cutting edge advantage.

2. A Marketplace for “recycling” the best solutions (let’s say, to recycle the above Top 10)

There is one Seeker who choose between 1-5 solutions to award.

The Seeker comes from one country, one industry. On short, from one spot. But the Universe is much bigger than this and it’s populated with a variety of similar seekers who may encounter a similar problem.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that some of the non-awarded solutions are not good enough or even better than the awarded ones. It only means that for one particular Seeker, that solution is a fit for a specific moment, level of business, department, operational flow, problem, industry and country’s level of development.

The non-awarded solutions may be a good enough, if not a great match for:

– other players in that country coming from the same industry
– other players from other industries (cross-industries solutions)
– other players from other countries with a different level of development

The potential is huge for incentive innovation players, problem solvers.

A small team of multiple awarded solvers who began their journey in Innocentive (Martin Padget from US and Georgia Mihalcea (me) from Romania) put together in 2011 a platform for this purpose called We did it by just using our time, passion and skills, as there were no resources available. It is fully dedicated to solvers.

It allows them to upload their non awarded and their own solutions/papers to various problems, to collaborate, to communicate and much more, but more importantly, to promote themselves and their expertize. For free.

It doesn’t have yet an economic model as it was not conceived for this purpose and we didn’t have the time and resources to focus on its development.

We made it to make a point and to point out to a new market that can be developed. This is a unique kind of opportunity for all sides.

Of course, we don’t expect IC do create this side market as it involves a lot of variables, but more promotion of solvers may be a push for our community in this direction.

3. Better solvers policies

3.1/ Seekers to Engage the Solvers They Award in the Next Phases of the Process

There is a strong need in solvers community for more efforts to link them to seekers and become a part-time/online or full time consultants in the solution further research, development and implementation.

Many solvers can make a positive difference in the follow-up process.

We are aware that Seeker’s interest is to keep the costs low, but engaging their winning solvers further in their own process can prove to be a very inspired strategic HR move. They take in the best they award and they can do it in a diversity of elastic manners.

Many solvers believe that for a better knowledge transfer, more collaboration is needed between solvers and seekers.

3.2 / Solvers & Solutions Marketing

There is also a strong need for more promotion of their winning solutions, of their expertize. More marketing must be dedicated also to solvers community. Not only for attracting more solvers in the game, but to keep the fire burning of existing players. It’s a huge opportunity for marketeers to engage solvers in the OI promotion process.

Solvers, as active players, can provide unique insights upon the overall marketplace and process, information that is totally missing from the market.

3.3 / Talent Recruitment Pool

The winning solvers community is a community of high skilled people who solve very difficult problems in creative and novel ways.

While playing this game, they turned into a different breed of professionals as they are lateral thinkers, great and fast writers and researchers, creaitve and highly skilled professionals. This community is a unique opportunity for HR and Headhunters Recruiters.

For a solution to get in front of hundreds and sometimes thousands of worldwide solutions, imagine how compelling their presentations must be, besides the quality of content inside.

There is a fusion of top skills these people developed in time.

Above all this, they are self-motivators and addicted to continuous learning.

They are also free minded people, so organizations must learn how to position towards them and how to work with them, as they don’t fit anymore the conventional models.

To quote a prolific solver from our community, who also took part in We Are Solvers online serials, Mario Alejandro Rosato: “brilliant people are here to help”. Solvers are diverse and very inteligent people, but they are not threats as they use to be perceived by traditional recruiters.

From my lifetime experience in the creative zone, creativity is like love. Everybody wants it, but everybody fears it and seldom chooses it. It takes some balls and a strong vision to hire such daring and creative people like solvers, as we still live in a society characterized by a strong anti-creativity bias. A very good article on this theme was written recently by our solver friend Michael Ricciardi entitled “On being a creative person – Uncertainty, Risk, and the Newest Paper Airplane”

You can watch this short video to find out what solvers say to human resource professionals and headhunters:


3.4 / Feedback

A very poor area where open innovation platforms don’t deliver,  it is the feedback one.

There is no solver who doesn’t dream at Seeker’s feedback. It’s one of the greatest way to improve not only solvers performance, but also the overall process.

Of course, it is not something comfortable to do as the volume of solutions is too big to cover and existing methods of evaluation and selection are still far behind the platforms.

But it can be something possibly to implement at least for the TOP 10 shortlisted solutions.

If seekers are encourage to provide a short feedback to their top choices, that’s could make a lot of difference on the long term for both sides.

Highlights in Media:

I’ll highlight here a few interesting videos related to Innocentive and its solvers:

  1. Dwayne Spradlin, Chief Executive Officer of InnoCentive, discusses how challenges unleash a world of human potential, at The Economist’s Human Potential summit in New York City (September 2011) during Ideas Economy annual sumit. The theme that year was: Human Potential – The Next Level of Competition.

      2. I’m a Solver – a video collage with various winning solvers made by Innocentive somewhere in 2011 (the short video is also part of the above video where IC CEO at the time introduced our breed and the challenge based process of solving problems to worldwide audiences of influencers)


Georgia Mihalcea