Open Innovation Pioneer InnoCentive Celebrates 15 Years

By Wazoku

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InnoCentive is now part of Wazoku

Waltham, MA – August 23, 2016: This year, InnoCentive, the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer, celebrates their 15th birthday. Since launching as part of Eli Lilly in 2001, InnoCentive has gone on to apply their Challenge Driven InnovationTM methodology across a range of industries and disciplines. To date they have run more than 2,000 external ‘Challenges’, building up a problem-solving network of over 375,000 individuals and other solution providers from nearly 200 different countries in the process.

The idea for InnoCentive came to Alph Bingham and Aaron Schacht in 1998 while working at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company, during a brainstorming session exploring the application of the Internet to business.  Speaking about this time, Alph Bingham, now InnoCentive co-founder and Board Member, said: “We imagined during this brainstorming session a web-based system that would attract hundreds or even thousands of minds to tackle a problem in organic syntheses, more effectively exploring the vast domain of solution space.  In later days, as we talked about this “,” we came more fully to three realizations: there will always be someone smarter outside of your team or organization; getting a diverse range of fresh perspectives is key to effective problem solving; and asking the right question in the right way is critical to eliciting the answers you need. These went on to be central pillars of InnoCentive”. After launching in 2001, InnoCentive spun out of Eli Lilly in 2005 with investments led by Spencer Trask & Company. In 2008, InnoCentive launched InnoCentive@Work – their SaaS-based platform that applies Challenge Driven InnovationTM for internal collaboration and problem solving within organizations – and have now run over 3,000 internal Challenges, in addition to the 2,000+ external.

Over the past 15 years InnoCentive has partnered with leading ‘Seeker’ organizations from around the world, including AstraZeneca, NASA, Lumina Foundation and SCA, to help them transform their economics of innovation through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Challenges have spanned the disciplinary gamut from life sciences (e.g. targeted delivery systems for emerging treatments), to engineering (e.g. methods to measure material strain), to data analytics (e.g. algorithms to predict the survival chances of patients) and beyond. Robert Albert, Collaboration Delivery and Exploitation Lead at AstraZeneca, said: “AstraZeneca has 60,000 employees, but the world has over 7 billion people; we never know where the next great idea is going to come from. As a company that likes to lead by example, AstraZeneca continues to explore innovative new solutions to complex scientific problems and Challenges are helping us do just that”.

Commercial, non-profit and government organizations have all found success with InnoCentive. Non-profits who utilize the platform report that it offers a unique opportunity to draw in new audiences in an efficient, effective way. One such client is Lumina Foundation. Lumina is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025 – Goal 2025. Lumina’s approach focuses on helping to design and build an equitable, accessible and accountable higher education system. “Foundations can become very focused on their work with trusted partners. InnoCentive has allowed us to connect with new audiences to find solutions for the large-scale postsecondary issues that we need to fix in order to achieve Goal2025,” said Lumina Vice President for Communications and Innovation, Dr. Kiko Suarez.

Recent years have seen a significant diversification of both the subject matter of InnoCentive Challenges and their global network of Solvers. More generally, ‘open’ is becoming a prefix to all sorts of domains – open science, open government, open data; all of which suggests a bright future for InnoCentive and open innovation. Craig Jones, InnoCentive CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board had the following message: “After 15 years we remain the global leader in Challenge Driven Innovation. I’d like to thank all our clients and Solvers for being part of transforming how organizations innovate and people work, and establishing crowdsourcing as an essential part of the innovation toolbox”.


Notes to editor


Challenges are specific and detailed problem statements that are put out to the crowd, who compete to provide actionable solutions.


About InnoCentive


InnoCentive is an open innovation and crowdsourcing company that enables organizations (referred to as ‘Seekers’) to tackle their important business, scientific or technical problems by crowdsourcing solutions from outside or inside their organization. They offer their proven Challenge Driven InnovationTM methodology, purpose-built platform and global network of problem solvers (referred to as ‘Solvers’), as well as accompanying consulting, training and program management services. Their worldwide headquarters is in Waltham, MA (USA) and EMEA headquarters is in London (UK).


Contact Name: Graham Buchanan, Director of Marketing                     

Organization: InnoCentive

Phone Number: +44 (0) 207 224 0110


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.