How the U.S. Government is Conquering Open Innovation

By Jon Fredrickson

Posted on

InnoCentive is now part of Wazoku

The U.S. federal government has over 430 departments, agencies, and sub-agencies that oversee and fund some of the most important aspects of society in the country (I.e. Defense, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Infrastructure, Energy, Health, Agriculture, Science and the Environment). Investments made by government in these agencies and their missions create and fund discovery of new technologies and supplier/solvers can that have a wide-reaching effect on the entire world.

In 2017, the federal government spent $116 billion on research and development.  It’s estimated that total innovation spending makes up 2.7% of GDP. That’s not an insignificant number when you consider that GDP in 2017 was $19.39 trillion. When added to spending from the private sector and non-profit organizations, the United States spends many billions each year on groundbreaking innovation efforts.

But are all of these investments great or even good?  Does every tax dollar in every department budget get spent on solutions to real problems we face?

The United States federal government, under the America COMPETES Act and other Defense and innovation procurement authorities, has been finding incredible results using the “crowd” with InnoCentive since 2005. Federal agencies/departments have been able to use unique capabilities from InnoCentive for Challenges to improve the cost, time and risks for innovation.  This capability has led to more efficient spending on solutions, and not trial and error.

Crowdsourcing for Solutions

InnoCentive has designed, supported and developed over 500 challenges both internally and externally for the US Government since 2005. US Government success rates are over 87% and implementation rates of solutions for one of our most significant clients is over 98%.

Through InnoCentive, Federal agencies can get: complete support in designing challenges for high need and sensitive innovation projects, professional development training on our proprietary Challenge Driven InnovationTM methodology, an existing and experienced global and US Solver base that does not have to be built for purpose.

Our government clients have told us that a Field of Dreams approach (build a website and Solvers will come) is not effective for them.  Data shows that InnoCentive registered Solvers represent over 96% of all solvers participating in challenges for our clients.

These are the Challenge options.

Ideation to Highly Technical Challenges

Agencies can ask for specific ideas from the global or US only crowd. These ideas can address specific issues or problems. Challenges can be used to formulate new technology or find a new way of solving problems without paying for massive trails and errors without specific problem definition.

Our team of experts, having designed over 2,400 challenges have what it takes to professionally design, support and guide you in what might be your first Challenge and Prize competition no matter the technical difficulty.

Internal Collaboration – Solutions from the Workforce

Additionally, agencies can dramatically improve collaboration through InnoCentive for more than just ideas. Using our tools and methodology you can tap the fertile minds of government employees for existing or potential solutions. This starts with understanding what problem you are solving for and what solutions are needed. Sorting through thousands of unstructured ideas from mis-focused questions increases the chance that the best solutions could be lost. Idea management software tools alone do not solve problems.

Prize Competition and Challenges – Using America COMPETES or Other Authorities

InnoCentive services include proven and proprietary IP agreements specific to government requirements under America COMPETES, launch and marketing services for your challenge to our existing global and US citizen crowd, and support for posting your challenge at

Solvers submit solutions to these Challenges for our clients to review and judge in our Challenge Center. Solver identity is masked for fairness under the FAR and speed to award or follow on contracting.

If a solution(s) meets the success criteria of the challenge, the Solver is verified for identity and COMPETES compliance prior to being paid a cash prize. The government agency that wishes to remain anonymous, can have InnoCentive make payments to the solver while the agency will have full knowledge of who winning solvers are with all identity papers, signed IP agreements and contact information.

InnoCentive’s Work with Federal Agencies

Many U.S. agencies have a long and storied history with InnoCentive and have used CDI to gain quick solutions to their most pressing issues, all with more efficient spending in shorter periods of time. Some of the many agencies that have worked with InnoCentive include:

    • NASA
    • EPA
    • Department of Energy
    • State Department
    • DHS
    • DARPA
    • US Intelligence Agency
    • Bureau of Reclamation
    • Air Force

Significantly, these agencies have seen remarkable success using open innovation and crowdsourced solutions, particularly when working with InnoCentive’s CDI methodology.

Is it time for your agency to find the solutions you’ve been looking for? Contact us today.

By Jon Fredrickson

Jon is one of a small handful of experts globally in Open Innovation and connected ecosystems over the last 16 years, the last 3 years with Wazoku, following the InnoCentive acquisition. Jon's experience as an applied innovation futurist has helped his enterprise and government customers insure their success. When not helping clients innovating solutions going to Mars or developing cleaner energy, Jon enjoys family, perfecting smoked foods, and studying history, and ancient civilizations.