Solving complex problems through effective challenge design

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AstraZeneca is a global pharmaceutical company that employs over 70,000 people; more than 3,100 of them with PhDs. The firm’s purpose is to push the boundaries of science to deliver life-changing medicines. This is focused on enhanced innovation and the sustainable delivery of life-changing medicines that improve patient outcomes and health experience.

“Challenge Design is an area where partnering with InnoCentive makes a big difference, particularly with complex problems such as this, crafting Challenges in such a way to make them as attractive to Solvers as possible.”

Rob Albert
Collaboration Specialist, AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca’s InnoCentive Challenges:

Targeted Delivery of Oligonucleotides

  • Here AstraZeneca was looking for a novel, platform technology to facilitate the selective delivery of short chain oligonucleotides – an emerging treatment option for various diseases.
  • After receiving over 50 submissions from around the world, AstraZeneca ran a follow-on RTP Challenge for winning Solvers of the preceding Theoretical Challenge. This was run in two phases. The first required proof-of-concept test data in vitro and the second required in vitro validation of the delivery technology using clinically relevant oligonucleotides provided by the Seeker.

Developing a Retrievable Device for Islet Transplantation

  • Here AstraZeneca was looking for a simple device for the transplantation and subsequent retrieval of human islets, a procedure which could be used to regulate blood glucose levels in diabetics as an alternative to the self-administration of insulin.
  • After receiving 25 submissions, AstraZeneca again ran a follow-on RTP Challenge to which the winning Solver was invited to participate.

Our Approach

Staggering Challenges over multiple stages, such as a Theoretical Challenge followed by a Reduction to Practice (RTP) Challenge, can have a number of benefits including helping to inform the viability and direction of the final solution requirements, incentivizing Solver participation by reducing risk, and allowing for more advanced deliverables.

This is an approach AstraZeneca has employed twice in recent Challenges; both occasions involved a Theoretical Challenge, requiring Solvers to submit only a written proposal, followed by an RTP Challenge.