InnoCentive and Harvard Catalyst, Embrace Prize-based Innovation

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InnoCentive is now part of Wazoku

WALTHAM, Mass. – February 4, 2010 – InnoCentive, Inc., the world leader in open innovation, today announced it is working with Harvard Catalyst, The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center, to launch a series of Web-based innovation Challenges. This new one-year research program is aimed at investigating whether new approaches such as crowdsourcing, that are increasingly popular in the private sector, can be successfully applied in the academic healthcare community to spark new research directions and collaborations. For their first Challenge, Harvard Catalyst and InnoCentive ask both the Harvard community and InnoCentive’s global network of 200,000 Solvers to propose new questions and ideas related to Type 1 diabetes.

“We wanted to tap into the knowledge of the widest possible community and required the know-how to develop effective questions; InnoCentive provides us with this reach and expertise,” said Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Eva Guinan, MD, director of the Harvard Catalyst Linkages program and co-collaboration leader on this project. “This challenge encourages the formation of new teams and new forms of collaboration around a specific topic area. Type 1 diabetes is a good example of a disease that has touched many people at Harvard and elsewhere personally and professionally. As a result, they may have questions or ideas that could help spawn new collaborations and areas for research. People who submit questions don’t need to have the resources, training, or background necessary to answer them. We want questions and ideas that have been unexplored.”

Harvard Catalyst is focused on reducing the burden of human illness through the support of the diverse resources within Harvard University and its affiliated Academic Healthcare Centers (AHCs). Harvard Catalyst selected InnoCentive to draw from its experience of posting more than 1,000 Challenges since inception to help them improve the articulation of critical questions, expose these Challenges to the broadest possible community of potential problem Solvers, organize and support more productive teams of problem solvers and develop new researcher profiling tools to evaluate their impact. Harvard Catalyst’s new efforts in the area of open innovation are funded with federal stimulus dollars from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Open innovation is an effective way to solve scientific problems in the business world,” said Karim R. Lakhani, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Harvard Business School and co-collaboration leader on this project. “According to my research, innovation contests can help reveal and foster unexpected and novel solutions to vexing scientific problems.”

Acceptable questions and ideas for the Type 1 diabetes Harvard Catalyst Challenge must be testable and researchable. The questions and ideas should be able to help define problems or new areas requiring exploration and research related to Type 1 diabetes- its biology, its progression, its clinical presentation, its complications, etc. Individuals with the best questions or ideas, as determined by a review panel, will receive prizes of between $2,500USD and $10,000USD. These questions will then be used to formulate a set of Requests for Applications or Requests for Proposals (RFAs/RFPs).

“Academic and research institutions often suffer from the same silos of sharing and anti-collaboration culture as other organizations,” said InnoCentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin. “Harvard is setting a new standard. They are using technology and social media to break down these barriers. We will work together to prove that collaboration yields better results in an academic environment, advancing medical research in the process. The stakes are high, because the impact has the potential to affect life or death situations.”

For Challenge details including deadline information or to register as an InnoCentive Solver visit


About Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center

Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center brings together the intellectual force, technologies, and clinical expertise of Harvard University and its academic, health care, and community partners to create connections, enable research at the cutting edge of discovery, and nurture clinical and translational researchers, with the goal of improving human health. Harvard Catalyst is supported by a Clinical and Translational Science Award (Award #UL1 RR 025758) from the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health and financial contributions from Harvard University and its affiliated academic health care centers. The resources of Harvard Catalyst are available to all faculties at Harvard University, regardless of institutional affiliation or academic degree. For more information on Harvard Catalyst, visit The Harvard Catalyst Open Innovation project is supported by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act supplemental grant (3UL1RR025758-02S4).



About InnoCentive, Inc.


Since 2001, InnoCentive has helped corporate, government, and non-profit organizations to better innovate through crowdsourcing, strategic consulting services and internal Software-as-a-Service offerings.  The company built the first global Web community for open innovation where organizations or “Seekers” submit complex problems or “Challenges” for resolution to a “Solver” community of more than 200,000 engineers, scientists, inventors, business professionals, and research organizations in more than 200 countries. Prizes for winning solutions are financial awards up to US $1,000,000.  Committed to unleashing diverse thinking, InnoCentive continues to introduce new products and services exemplifying a new corporate model where return to investors and individual passion go hand in hand with solving mankind’s most pressing problems.


For more information contact:


Karyn Martin
Emerge PR

Thomas Ulrich
Communications Manager
Harvard Catalyst

The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center

By Wazoku

Wazoku is an innovation SaaS business that helps some of the world’s biggest organizations to innovate at scale. Whether it’s making the most of your employee's ideas, identifying new partners to collaborate with, or exploring the boundless potential of open innovation – or all three! – Wazoku makes innovation happen.