InnoCentive Solver Develops Solution to Help Clean Up Remaining Oil From the 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster

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Boston, MA and Cordova, AK – November 7, 2007 – InnoCentive, the leader in prize-based Open Innovation sourcing, is helping to make a positive impact on Environmental Conservation by working with the Oil Spill Recovery Institute (OSRI) and other conservation groups. OSRI has posted 3 Challenges on the InnoCentive website, all dealing with oil spill recovery issues. The first of these challenges was solved last week by an oil industry outsider who used his expertise in the concrete industry to come up with the winning solution. John Davis, an InnoCentive Solver from the Central United States, was awarded $20,000 for his creative solution.


This first OSRI Challenge required a method for separating oil from water on oil recovery barges after the oil and water had frozen to a viscous mass. Having no background in the oil industry, John applied his expertise and proposed using an existing product commonly used in the concrete industry. This tool uses vibration to keep cement in liquid form during mass cement pours. John realized that by attaching a long pole and inserting the tool into the oil recovery barges, it would keep the oil from freezing into a viscous state and allow the oil to be easily pumped from the barge.OSRI was established by Congress in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill with the mandate to develop the best techniques and materials for dealing with oil spills in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic waters. This solution signals the first of what OSRI hopes will be many breakthroughs in oil spill cleanup provided by the InnoCentive Open Innovation Marketplace. Scott Pegau, Research Program Manager of OSRI, says his organization and others in Alaska had been attempting to solve many of these issues internally, and had not found a solution.“Within the oil spill response industry, there are a limited number of people to work on these problems,” says Scott Pegau. “If this Challenge were easily solved by the people within the industry, it would have been solved earlier. I’m fascinated to see that our winning solution uses related technology found in the concrete industry, we would never have found this through our regular RFP process. The InnoCentive Marketplace allows us to step outside the box and look at more creative solutions.”

InnoCentive is changing the face of R&D for corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profits by employing their prize-based method to engage innovators in many industries from around the world. This prize-based method motivates Solvers (InnoCentive’s network of independent problem-solvers) to get involved, but the real key to InnoCentive’s success lies in their diverse Solver base. Solvers from every industry tackle each problem with fresh, new points of view. As illustrated in the OSRI solution, InnoCentive Seekers (corporations, government agencies and not-for-profits working with InnoCentive) find that the best solutions for a given Challenge often come from outside their respective industry.

Various Seekers focused on Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development are utilizing the InnoCentive Marketplace to tackle their hardest R&D challenges. And in the process, major breakthroughs and solutions are developed, often by creative minds far away. Mr. Pegau says he plans to share the solutions they find through InnoCentive with other industry groups in his area. “Through the InnoCentive Marketplace, the Oil Spill Recovery Institute hopes to be able to really improve the technology used to respond to oil spills,” says Pegau.

Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive says this kind of world-changing collaboration is at the core of what InnoCentive is about. “The InnoCentive Open Innovation Marketplace is about enabling Seekers and Solvers both to make an impact on the world in a lasting way. Furthermore, this solution is proof that many times the best solutions come from creative minds outside of the industry that has the problem.”


About InnoCentive


InnoCentive built the first online Open Innovation Marketplace, and is the global leader in prize-based Open Innovation sourcing, enabling scientists, engineers, professionals and entrepreneurs to collaborate in a global community to deliver breakthrough solutions for R&D-driven organizations. InnoCentive’s Seekers include commercial, government and non-profit organizations such as Eli Lilly and Company, Janssen, Solvay, GlobalGiving and The Rockefeller Foundation. InnoCentive Seekers, who collectively spend billions of dollars on R&D, submit complex problems on the InnoCentive web site where more than 125,000 engineers, scientists, inventors, business people, and research organizations in more than 175 countries are invited to solve them. Solvers who deliver the most innovative solutions receive financial awards ranging up to US$1,000,000. To learn more visit the InnoCentive Web site at

InnoCentive and InnoCentive Challenge are registered trademarks of InnoCentive, Inc. Other product or service names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

For More Information contact:

Graham Buchanan, Senior Program Manager, Marketing, InnoCentive


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.