BOLD Awards Announce Five Nominees in Each of 12 Categories

BOLD Awards Reach Five Nominees in Each Category

Public online voting has now ended and we are delighted to share the names of the final nominees in each of the 12 categories of the first annual BOLD Awards.

The online votes that were cast will count for 50% of the final decisions, and the introduction of our international panel of judges to the process will also account for 50% of the overall selection of winners. Judges will evaluate each nominee on the basis of Level of Impact 40%, Scalability 30%, Transparency 20%, and H-factor 10% (Human & Social).

In conjunction with our event co-hosts H-FARM the final award ceremony will take place at a gala dinner held at their campus in Venice, Italy, on April 5. Attendance is limited mainly to the award winners, category sponsors and some of our corporate partners and investors, though a few tickets remain available to spend a unique evening in their company. Apply to Attend here if you think you’ve got what it takes to spend an evening with the BOLDEST.

Here are the nominees. Did the projects you voted for make it to this stage?

Crowdsourced Online PlatformOpen Innovation
1. Mindhive1. Open Cosmos
2. RAPPLER2. Qempo
3. Nestle3. Paytomat
4. Mindsumo4. Myfreight
5. Civocracy5. Memomi
Space FrontierArtificial Intelligence
1. Open Cosmos1. ScienceAtHome
2. Space For Humanity2. Directly
3. SpacePharma3. Plan A
4. SteamJet4. Fundbox
5. OffWorld5. FarmaTrust
Scientific ProjectBlockchain Platform
1. BEES – BE a citizEn Scientist1. MedicoHealth
2. GenetX2. Paytomat
3. ScienceatHome3. PolyXchange
4. Gut Instinct4. PHLO - Satoshi
5. Medical Cooling4. Canlead
ICO/CryptocurrencyFuture Robot
1. MakerDao & DAI stablecoin1. MARA
2. Vaultoro2. ROVENSO
3. DAOstack3. Robo Retail
4. Menapay4. Digital Twins
5. MedicoHealth5. Vostok
Marketing & AdvertisingCrowdfunding
1. Earth Hour 20181. Borrow a Boat
2. Inde2. StartupItalia
3. PUBG Mobile3. Tam Development llc
4. Rebuild Kerala Project4. Scribit
5. StartupItalia5. RAPPLER
Young Achiever Under 25Boldest Innovator
1. Francesco Bellanca - Feral Horses1. Plan A
2. Prashanth Balasubramanian - Lastbit2. Robo Retail
3. Boris Povod - WINGS Foundation3. Medical Cooling
4. Salshabilla Adriani4. Memomi
5. Rob Wilson - CrowdReach5. CBOT Physiotherapeutical Robot

The judges will study the submissions and reach their decisions in March.  Though naturally we’re not going to say anything to spoil the Awards Dinner on April 5 in Venice, Italy, at H-FARM.

In Blockchain We Trust

In Blockchain We Trust

Tech headlines today herald the potential impact of blockchain technology on industries such as crowdsourcing, transportation, and inter-company collaboration (supply chains). We’re inundated today with projects targeting these markets and many people think it’s quite likely these markets will be the first to see significant disruption.

Or could blockchain’s most profound impact actually be elsewhere? Blockchain technology is, in some ways, more suited for professional service industries, ultimately reducing the reliance on costly third parties and giving the user more direct control over their choices.

There are three key reasons why this particular business sector is overlooked by popular innovators today whilst at the same time it appears ripe for disruption. 

  1. The professional service industry sector is  not as attention-grabbing  as other markets, far less prone to groundbreaking headlines announcing significant Fortune 500 partnerships.
  2. There are inherent reservations around integrating with heavily regulated professional service industries such as healthcare or law.
  3. The inefficiencies within professional services – education, law, healthcare, insurance – are more subtle, known only by those working in the industry or those unfortunate enough to have had to personally encounter their frustrating shortcomings.

The sector is also, in some ways, inherently more suited for current decentralized technology because short execution times are less critical. Supply chains, artificial intelligence, payments and transactions must be fast. Every second spent is crucial, risking safety, accuracy, and the patience of users. But with professional services, the importance is less on how quickly a command can be processed and more dependent on the process being secure, transparent, and efficient. A medical record update can take 5 minutes to secure and clients and providers would be no less inconvenienced. Whereas a store clerk can’t possibly wait five minutes for a buyer’s transaction to be processed.

In any professional service industry, there are three significant overlapping areas where blockchain can be signficantly impactful. First, blockchain can address the heavy reliance on secure and efficient record keeping, both between institutions and professionals and between clients and providers. Second, blockchain can help record the many accreditations, licensing, and other professional certifications. And third, blockchain can help ensure transparency regarding the history of providers.

Record Keeping 
Any professional service provider is well acquainted with the mountains of paperwork relevant to their profession. Whether it is legal documents for lawyers, medical records for doctors, transcripts and diplomas for educational institutions, or documentation by insurers, these records must remain protected and accessible. Illegal tampering must be prevented, clients should maintain ownership and access to their records, and the proof of authenticity must be ensured, even when the document is transferred between institutions.

Today, this system is far from perfect. Blockchain makes a system possible where records retain an entire history of modification and demands that any edit is authenticated with the private key of the authority. No unauthorized person could change a medical record or transcript and there would be an immutable history of all changes. Access could be approved only by the owners and any receiving party would know that the document was authentic. Standards could be set that would allow institutions to operate on the same network, with no central trust agent, allowing for efficient record sharing. All these possibilities are supported by blockchain and would be virtually costless.

Licencing and Accreditations 
Forgery of accreditations amongst professional providers remains a constant problem. Present in any doctor or lawyer’s office is a collection of board and education certifications. Clients trust that these are authentic because the hospital or firm endorses their legitimacy.

With private practice, this becomes much more difficult. Imagine that certifications and accreditations were associated with the professional, certified by the institutions, and verifiable by anyone. Automatic expiration dates would reduce the need for central oversight. They would be impossible to counterfeit and clients could rest easy knowing that the provider was honestly representing their accreditations.

Reputation and Credibility 
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to view the history of providers and transparency isn’t always in their personal interest. Information about malpractice suits, court cases, and dissatisfied costumers is not easily accessed by inquisitive clients.

Blockchain would ensure that providers have an associated immutable record, tracking their professional reputation and history, guaranteeing transparency for the client. Imagine am immutable LinkedIn-like service, protecting a client’s right-to-know and ensuring that a provider is who they say they are. Acces to such records could put an end to the scrabbling around among friends and neighbours that’s usually needed to get some word of mouth recommendations from a trusted source.

A relationship between a professional provider and a client is inherently vulnerable for the client. The reason that the client is going to a professional is because they lack the same level of knowledge. This can make it challenging for some of them to understand how to effectively protect themselves and it makes them a relatively easy target for abuse by unscrupulous providers.

Complex and cumbersome systems for record keeping, record sharing, and the management of accredited certifications are intended to help protect the public and ensure that professionals have the necessary skills that they claim. Though records today can be easily manipulated, forged, obscured, and depend heavily on central entities to authenticate and manage.

Blockchain provides an excellent solution, giving clients control of their information, reducing overhead costs, and providing efficient access to only those approved parties. It is likely only a matter of time until medical, educational, and law institutions migrate to decentralized systems.

Author: Noam Levenson

The time for submitting entries to the BOLD Awards has closed and public voting closes 23.59 EST on February 20. After this an international panel of judges with specific category knowledge will become involved to decide the winners in 12 categories You can still apply to attend the gala dinner award ceremony in Venice, Italy, on April 5.

Bold Innovators Sparking Both Business Impact and Social Impact

Bold Innovators Sparking Both Business Impact and Social Impact

Open innovation is a term coined by Henry Chesbrough in his 2003 book, “Open Innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology”. Open Innovation assumes that valuable ideas can come from inside or out of the company and can go to the market from inside or outside the company as well. At the heart of the open paradigm is the assumption that enterprises cannot conduct all R&D activities by themselves; instead, they have to capitalize on external knowledge.

For example, in 2000, Procter and Gamble (P&G) faced several major difficulties: an increased pace of innovation, higher costs, constrained resources and growing consumer demands had all made certain elements in P&G’s traditional research and development (R&D) model obsolete. The company required a “growth rate which exceeded the industry growth rate”. This required collaboration with external elements; or in other words: Open Innovation. This initiative was dubbed Connect and Develop where the company collaborated with external sources for innovative ideas and technologies. When the process began some 10-15% of the innovations at P&G included ideas from external sources, and this increased to about 50% in under a decade.

There are clear advantages of exercising Open Innovation practices: reduction in the time and cost of innovation projects; incorporation of solutions and innovations which would have never been internally generated, due to lack of time, knowledge and resources; and commercialization of inventions which for various reasons cannot be achieved by the company owning them. At the same time however, Open Innovation has its own challenges: managing intellectual property issues and other legal risks; processing ideas quickly, and efficiently; and establishing an efficient internal structure that supports and facilitates Open Innovation.

Over the years I have followed closely many companies that provide open innovation services and platforms; and it seems that the market in buzzing. The Innovation Management Market is projected to grow to $1.5 Billion by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 29.2% during the period 2017-2022.

The BOLD Awards 2019 has a category for the Boldest Innovator, sponsored by Surcle, which is itself an open innovation platform that evolved from a eureka moment breakthrough at an online supply chain for electronic components. They can now provide their clients with access to a global network of both professional and citizen scientists to tackle their issues and devise novel solutions.

There’s a company that recently caught my eye, and if it was just a little bit younger maybe its founders would have entered: SparkBeyond. Established in 2013, the company’s platform is designed to tackle the cognitive bottleneck and bias inherent in human thinking, augment data with a multitude of external data sources, and enable adaptive AI systems. Their platform discovers complex patterns, identifies root causes and drivers of business outcomes.

By leveraging their Knowledge Mining capabilities they are enabling companies to deepen the scope of their R&D, expand into the long tail of factors affecting the problem, reduce researchers’ efforts, and identify technological breakthroughs. On top of their sophisticated AI mechanisms, they harness humanity’s collective intelligence to generate millions of insights and empower organizations with strategic and operational intelligence for maximal impact.

Bold Innovators Sparking Both Business Impact and Social Impact

Moving forward, SparkBeyond is creating its “Invention Machine”, which analyzes millions of inventions to create a stream of thousands of new directions for inventions, which would be further refined and enriched through a dynamic crowd-sourced process.

What I really like about SparkBeyond is that in addition to business impact, they are committed to generating social impact on a planetary scale. An exciting project that has come to my attention that has been driven by some standout people: SparkBeyond partnered with a leading HMO to analyze one of the world’s largest and richest EMRs – in order to improve early disease and high-risk state detection.

The current research paradigm fails to address clinical research needs due to a number of factors: the ever-growing volume and complexity of data; time-consuming data construction; human bias in defining the hypotheses space; the high cost of error (so research remains in the comfort zone); and the skillset gap between clinical experts and data analysis.

By combining medical expertise with machine intelligence, the problem-solving platform discovered that a reduction in hemoglobin levels over time was a high contributor in identifying patients at risk for Colon cancer. The result: in a very short time, the platform generated a lift of 13x in identifying patients at risk for Colon cancer, among the top 1% of the at-risk population. Now that’s what I call impact!

Chesbrough argues – and I agree – that the future of Open Innovation is more extensive, more collaborative, and more engaged with a wider variety of participants. But to that I would add that the future of open innovation is within the development of AI-based tools that enhance the ability of individuals, groups and organizations to reach a deeper level of research and analysis, thus improving decision-making processes.

The combination of human crowds and sophisticated machines will enable organizations to acquire real-time understanding of previously obscured connections and relationships and to use artificial intelligence to point research in the right direction. Such tools will be the ultimate analytic resources for creating synergy between data-information knowledge, software-hardware and human experts. Put differently, the next generation of open innovation will be based on leveraging humanity’s collective intelligence to augment AI-generated solutions and vice-versa.

Author: Dr Shay Hershkovitz

Have you voted yet for your Boldest Innovator? The time for submitting entries to the BOLD Awards 2019 has closed and right now we are in a public voting phase until February 20. After this an international panel of judges with specific category knowledge will become involved to decide the winners in 12 categories. Be involved and vote now for your favourite projects. You can also apply to attend the gala dinner award ceremony in Venice, Italy, on April 5.

PRESS RELEASE: Meet the BOLD judges who are going to go BOLD.

Feb. 12, 2019 – Singapore, Venice, New York

Crowdsourcing Week has launched the new BOLD Awards to highlight the very best projects across a range of key categories – from advertising and crowdfunding to scientific projects and the space frontier. The concluding Gala Dinner award ceremony will be held at H-FARM in Venice, Italy, on April 5th 2019.

Entries are already being submitted and from February 9 finalists will be selected via public voting, then jury members with category-specific expertise will evaluate the shortlisted entries based on their criteria and select 5 nominees per category. The public vote is weighted 50% and the judges’ final vote is also 50%.

H-FARM Founder Maurizio Rossi, Millennium Project Director José Luis Cordero, and best-selling author Julian Guthrie are among the judges we are proud to announce for the inaugural BOLD Awards.

Also on the judging panel are Karin Mayer Rubinstein, CEO at Israel Advanced Technology Industries, Ranjita Ghosh, Global Marketing Director at Wipro, and Crowdsourcing Week CEO Epi Ludvik. Between them the full panel of judges will represent a diverse range of business and industry sectors from around the world.

We are happy to be partner of the BOLD Awards, with which we share a DNA that believes in the opportunities that arise from the sharing of knowledge and skills born through digital platforms.” Comments Maurizio Rossi, co-founder and vice chairman of H-FARM, “today more than ever it is important to give support and visibility to the best minds in the field of innovation to motivate them to do, and do even better”.

Our judges will consider each project in detail – such as how it has a significant direct impact on society, its scalability and transparency and its H-Factor (Human & Social) – to determine category winners.

About H-FARM:

H-FARM is an innovation platform which supports the creation of new business models, as well as the digital transformation and education of young people and Italian companies. Founded in January 2005, H-FARM was the first in the world to adopt a model that brought together education, investments, and business consultancy in one place. Since its founding until today, H-FARM has invested €27,3M to support the development of over a hundred innovative companies, has helped 200 of the most important international brands take advantage of the opportunities made possible by digital transformation and educates more than 1.000 students through an international and digital didactic path. Structured like a campus, it is destined to become the most important innovation hub in Europe and is currently undergoing an expansion that will grow its facilities from 14,000 mq of buildings with a 20-hectare park to 42,000 mq of buildings distributed over 51 hectares of land close to Venice. H-FARM employs more than 600 people in 5 different locations in Italy and is considered a singularity at an international level. BOLD Awards will be hosted in the events room and the evening will continue on the terrace together with lots of surprises.

Press Office H-FARM:

Giulia Franchin: [email protected]

Gaia Veronese: [email protected]

About Crowdsourcing Week:

Crowdsourcing Week is the first global platform on crowdsourcing and open innovation. As the global network and forum for the Crowd Economy, CSW is committed to help organizations, innovators and entrepreneurs transition into a more open, connected, and socially productive society enabled by the Internet and online tools powered by the crowds.

Press Office BOLD Awards:

Mia Zamora: [email protected]


Global Corporation is BOLD Enough to Disrupt Itself

Global Corporation is BOLD Enough to Disrupt Itself

We’re getting increasingly used to witnessing the commercial disruption taking place due to mass digital connectivity giving rise to new business models. In many instances it’s where existing players in a market place come under threat from newcomers who have torn up the old play book, and if the incumbents are unable to respond well enough or fast enough they can soon be eclipsed. Many well-known retail brands have disappeared as people increasingly shop online, hotel margins are under pressure, worldwide car sales have plateaued and are in decline in developed markets, and ‘mass services’ including healthcare and education are under the spotlight of the technology revolution.

But how about when a global corporation is bold enough to disrupt itself? This is what some think the Philip Morris International tobacco company did when it set out to create a smoke-free future through the development of Reduced Risk Products (RRPs).

Reduced Risk Products is the term PMI use to refer to products with the potential to reduce individual risk and population harm in comparison to smoking cigarettes. PMI’s RRPs are now in various stages of development and commercialization, and the company is conducting extensive and rigorous scientific studies to determine whether they can support claims for such products of reduced exposure to harmful and potentially harmful constituents in smoke, and ultimately claims of reduced disease risk, when compared to smoking cigarettes.

As part of their process to develop smoke-free products in a way that would be robust enough to withstand intense scrutiny, PMI launched sbv IMPROVER as an industry initiative to harness the wisdom of the crowd in science. The purpose was to provide a measure of quality control through gaining external third-party validation of the methodologies used. sbv IMPROVER stands for Systems Biology Verification combined with Industrial Methodology for Process Verification in Research.

The verification would be provided by a global community of scientists, all busy with their own research and projects. Scientists who want to get involved can do so individually, in teams, or could look for a currently involved team and seek to join it. They gain contacts and achieve personal exposure among their peer group which can enhance their reputation and career progression. The best performers are rewarded with gift cards and/or a travel grant, based on their individual performance rather than their team’s performance. Additionally, for it to succeed, an important part of getting this community on board is to let them also use the sbv IMPROVER platform to seek third-party validation of their work.

The sbv IMPROVER platform is sponsoring the “Boldest Scientific Project” category in the BOLD Awards 2019. Entrants in this category had to demonstrate an innovative approach to crowdsourcing in a scientific project. The project should also have been able to demonstrate a quantifiable global benefit. Entries were submitted up to February 8 and the first stage of selecting a category winner is an online public vote. After this, an international panel of judges will examine the entries and select a final winner who will receive their award – presented by a representative from sbv IMPROVER – at a gala dinner ceremony in Venice, Italy, on April 5 2019.

In the meantime, a current challenge on the sbv IMPROVER platform is the updated iteration of the Network Verification Challenge which aims at refining biological network models representing the three phases of liver xenobiotic metabolism. Xenobiotic  metabolism is activated in response to exposure to chemical substances foreign to the body (i.e., xenobiotics, such as toxic compounds, drugs, etc.) and is therefore relevant for multiple applications in toxicology and pharmacology. Those networks were built based on scientific literature, with one or more excerpts from a scientific publication supporting each edge in the network.Global Corporation is BOLD Enough to Disrupt Itself

The goal of the challenge is to verify the evidence supporting the network as well as to add/remove nodes and edges, as supported by the current scientific literature. Any scientist able to read and understand a scientific publication should be able to take part in the Network Verification challenge. Participation is encouraged by a leaderboard highlighting the best performers on the platform as well as by some monetary and scientific incentives.

The time for submitting entries to the BOLD Awards has closed and right now we are in a public voting phase until February 20. After this an international panel of judges with specific category knowledge will become involved to decide the winners in 12 categories. Be involved and vote now for your favourite projects. You can also apply to attend the gala dinner award ceremony in Venice, Italy, on April 5.

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019

Maintaining the spirit of the wisdom and strength of a crowd, we are very grateful for the inputs from an extremely impressive collection of BOLD Award Advisors. We really appreciate the time they have been able to set aside in their schedules to help shape up the inaugural edition of our international annual awards for bold crowdsourcing, that culminate in a gala dinner award ceremony in Venice, Italy, on 5 April 2019.  

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019Originally a corporate lawyer, Volker Hirsch is an entrepreneur who has so far founded or co-founded a total of seven startups. He has extensive board experience in EdTech, AI, IoT, Travel, Advertising and Gaming, and is currently is a Partner at Amadeus Capital, one of Europe’s leading deep-tech VCs where he looks after their Early-Stage Funds with a focus on AI, Human-Machine Interfaces (including AR/VR) and Industry 4.0.

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019Maya Bogle champions the need for the advertising industry to transform its models and processes in order to engage consumers with culturally relevant work across multiple markets and channels. Maya is Co-Founder of Talenthouse – the largest global community of multi-disciplined creators delivering creative content and influencer marketing for brands.

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019Jochen “Joe” Renz is an Electronics Engineer from Stuttgart, Germany (home of Mercedes, Bosch, Porsche). He now lives in Chicago, USA, where after a 20-year corporate IT career he co-founded New Mobility X with his brother Alex. Simply put, cars and IT are in their blood, and Joe understands the car as an important building block in the future of multi-modal mobility. However, Joe goes far beyond the vehicle itself and takes a holistic view of the emerging smart mobility and transportation space aka New Mobility World®.

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019Travis Todd is an American serial entrepreneur living in Berlin, Germany. Travis has been leading technology startups at an executive level since 2007: he founded Silicon Allee, Berlin’s foremost international tech community, as well as the startups Buddy Beers and Toast. Right now, Travis is part of the founding team for, building collaborative startup campuses around the world, as well as CEO of Silicon Allee.

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019“Startup Eddy” Travia has led early-stage investments in 20 blockchain companies around the world, spent 9 years as a private equity fund manager in China, advised more than 20 ICOs, and is currently CEO of Coinsilium, a London-quoted venture builder, accelerator and investor in early-stage blockchain technology companies.

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019Based in UK, Benita Matofska is a world-leading expert, speaker and change-maker renowned for her ability to captivate audiences worldwide with her knowledge, dynamism and passion for social innovation and the Sharing Economy. An award-winning social entrepreneur, commentator and writer, she is the founder of global charity The People Who Share and Global Sharing Week, reaching over 100 million people worldwide.

BOLD Advisors Help to Shape the BOLD Awards 2019Marvin Liao has over 20 years of experience in venture capital, technology businesses and startups. He has been an investor at 500 Startups since 2014, running the Accelerator program in San Francisco as well as investing in direct seed deals. Prior to 500 Startups he was an executive at Yahoo! for over a decade.

The time for submitting entries to the BOLD Awards has closed and right now we are in a public voting phase until February 20. After this an international panel of judges with specific category knowledge will become involved to decide the winners in 12 categories. Be involved and vote now for your favourite projects. You can also apply to attend the gala dinner award ceremony in Venice, Italy, on April 5.

Being Bold in Open Innovation

Being Bold in Open Innovation

The past decade has raised the bar in open innovation, particularly the last year. As celebrated at the Crowdsourcing Week 2018 global conference, we’ve recently maximized the power of the group and pushed scientific and technical ideas to their potential.

Or have we?

The first-annual BOLD Awards argue that we expect way more innovation in the future. In a partnership with the innovation platform H-Farm, the BOLD Awards encapsulate all the discussions in the previous Crowdsourcing Week events and applies those ideas to the future. What concept or business is best aligned with the future we’re bringing or, more aptly, the future we want to create? And the best way for us to capture the idea is to look to you, the CSW community.

Happening April 5th in Venice, Italy, the BOLD Awards has ten crowdsourced categories: the aforementioned Boldest Open Innovation, as well as the Boldest Crowdsourced Online Platform, Boldest Crowdsourced Marketing & Advertising Campaign, Boldest Space Frontier Challenge, Boldest AI, Boldest Scientific Project, Boldest Crowdfunding Campaign, Boldest Blockchain Platform, Boldest ICO/Cryptocurrency, and Boldest Future Robot. In addition there is an award for the overall Boldest Innovator and for the Boldest Young Achiever Under 25.  Public voting for the best of each category starts February 1 2019.

Being Bold in Open Innovation

Open innovation specifically has been a touchstone for Crowdsourcing Week. Serial entrepreneur and Moonshot author Naveen Jain put it well: “Be the idiot in the room.” We are learning that expertise is overrated or, at worst, you should be surrounded by people whom have such deep expertise that you can ask challenging, out-of-the-box questions.

The open innovation idea goes back throughout human history – think carnival games where, on average, the crowd will accurately guess how many gumballs are in a bowl – but technology has accelerated the process, not only in the number of people involved in the process, but the efficiency of the process itself. A wider audience increases the chances that a new innovation will work out and also expands the opportunity to have more diverse minds contributing their unique perspective.

Being Bold in Open Innovation
Photo courtesy of Andrea Fagarazzi/Creative Commons

The boldest open innovation naturally leans towards the future of the tech world rather than the past. We’ve been part of a cycle:  The Wild West, open online access of the 1980s, then the tight pipelines through American Online and other providers in the 1990s. AOL and competitors crumbled as the public directly accessed the Internet through Netscape and other online browsers going into the new millennium and, as of late, Facebook, Instagram and social media have tried again to create a pipeline-based “walled garden” approach. One of the problems, as The Verge’s Casey Newton has pointed out, is that social media platforms are allowing certain companies privileged access to use their information, which not only impedes business growth, but unfairly chooses winners and losers.

Recent social media backlash isn’t just about potential political interference or about what conglomerates do with our data, but also how we are able to contribute to the greater whole. As I talked about in my TED book Our Virtual Shadow: Why We’re Obsessed with Documenting Our Lives Online, we naturally want the freedom to share, to argue and to build communities outside of specific boundaries. The modern Internet has gotten us accustomed to having a grand conversation, and you having the same opportunity to change the world as I do.

Any attempt to suppress this opportunity will be rebelled against or, to paraphrase Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way”. We have to respect open innovation, whether it is in our business interest or not.

Open innovation is really about trusting the market itself: Not just the market of business, but the marketplace of ideas. If a particularly idea doesn’t work, then there are other ideas to replace it, and those ideas come from you. It’s a beautiful thing. Without open innovation, we would be in a less innovative world, from the startling success of Kickstarter to critical breakthroughs in illnesses.

Main image credit: Antti T. Nissinen

The upcoming BOLD Awards is, in this sense, a meta experience: Crowdsourcing Week and H-Farm are using the wisdom of the public to ferret out the best, most far-reaching open innovation projects in the world. It will only become more exciting as the finalists get narrowed down and we get a clearer picture of the crowd’s insight and, ideally, of our collective futures. Is your own entry going to be among them?


Overcoming Barriers to Adopt Innovation Crowdsourcing

Overcoming Barriers to Adopt Innovation Crowdsourcing

Managing change within an organization is never easy since a company is essentially formed by people, and people are not usually easy to change because of cultural factors (the culture of the country, the industry, the company itself, and so on).

The ennomotive platform hosts open innovation challenges that are based around engineering projects. Despite the proven benefits of innovation crowdsourcing (or crowdsourced open-innovation), it can still be difficult to introduce it to and integrate it in a traditional engineering company. We have found four barriers that are regularly put in front of us.

1. The first barrier appears when scientists and engineers are reluctant to accept that there is more talent outside the walls of their companies. People will have even more reservations if the crowdsourcing initiative targets a core technology competence in the company.

In order to overcome this barrier, our experience tells us that a good option would be to first target a non-core technology competence. However, if there is a disruptive technology in the market that creates a new window of opportunity, the crowdsourcing method could be accepted more easily.

From our experience, ‘in-house’ experts need not feel insecure if they can adjust their role to assess a wider range of ideas than they would have come up with by themselves. Their value is a bit further down the innovation pipeline: they are not the people who need to come up with the ideas, they now assess new opportunities from a technical standpoint.  

2. The second barrier is related to the visibility associated to the crowdsourcing of a company challenge. In order to screen a crowd of people, you definitely have to disclaim what the company needs or wants, which can reveal strategic information to your competitors.

People tend to make this problem bigger than it actually is (since many challenges are already publicly known), which usually leads to a tedious process of internal validations, especially in companies that have a decision-making culture based on broad consensus.

For this reason, many organizations dare to try crowdsourcing only with broadly known but ‘impossible-to-solve’ challenges. Those challenges represent old problems or needs that, after many attempts, were put in the drawer forever marked as ‘too difficult’. Again, this may not be the best way to prove that crowdsourcing works because, unless you are allowed to reformulate it, the original challenge might be too complex to be solved.

Nevertheless, there are sometimes open-minded people in the organization (e.g. the innovation department) that have the ability and autonomy to drive decisions to overcome this visibility issue.

3. A third barrier can be aversion to a risky investment, in this case when trying a new innovation model. Companies may perceive a need to increase the innovation budget to test an approach that has never been done before.

To overcome this barrier, it would be advisable to find flexible formulae to make the company’s decision to test crowdsourcing as easy as possible (lower the risk, find external funding, deliver fast results, etc.).

4. Finally, a fourth barrier appears when crowdsourcing is considered to be an alternative to traditional outsourcing.

As defined by Jeff Howe, crowdsourcing is a sourcing model in which individuals or organizations obtain ideas from relatively open and often rapidly-evolving group of external people. However, this does not automatically translate into an innovation project outsourced to a group of internet users. On the contrary, it means that a group of people get involved in a project still owned and managed by the company, like the projects run by the R&D departments.

People from the crowd cannot be considered or treated as suppliers or the experience will be very frustrating for both parties. Crowdsourcing must be thought of as a helping tool for the organization, not a way to outsource projects.

Therefore, crowdsourcing does not quite fit in companies that prefer to outsource projects completely, passing on all the responsibility. Crowdsourcing is a good match for organizations that undertake projects (and keep the responsibility) but want ‘fresh’ insights to become better, faster and more cost-efficient.

Introducing innovation crowdsourcing to Codelco

Overcoming Barriers to Adopt Innovation Crowdsourcing

Let us share a real story about barriers we encountered and how we overcame them when we introduced crowdsourcing in a mining company.

ennomotive, our crowdsourcing company focused on innovation engineering, began in 2015 in Spain. Two years later, we had the opportunity to start our expansion in Chile, which has a traditional market though appeared willing to move towards innovation.

We arrived in the South American country in February 2017, and in April we met the Innovation Director of Codelco, the Chilean state-owned copper mining company. Lucky for us, he was the right open-minded, innovation-driven person who opened doors for testing crowdsourcing in the company.

A few weeks later, he introduced us to Codelco Tech, Codelco’s R&D subsidiary, which had to make the final decision on whether or not to incorporate our crowdsourcing model. Our approach was to make an attractive proposal to work with a first-time success fee and, at the same time, presented them the opportunity to obtain governmental funding for innovation initiatives.

By the month of October, we had already received the funding, the approval from Codelco Tech, and launched a relevant mining challenge with a good business-case for the company. In six weeks, we had the first positive results.

After testing our crowdsourcing model, the company says it is 40% more cost-efficient and delivers solutions 3 times faster than traditional innovation methods with its internal scientists and external support from universities, consultants and other stakeholders

As a result, Codelco Tech decided to embark on a second crowdsourcing project to find applications for a new graphene-copper nanocomposite material. This challenge has also been successfully completed.

It could be fair to say that any orgnization using open innovation for the first time is taking a bold step. Though through the 2019 BOLD Awards we are really looking for the very boldest individuals, projects and organizations in 12 categories from advertising and crowdfunding to robots and the space frontier. The closing date for entries is February 8, after which the power of the crowd – a public vote – will reduce the field to five entries per category. A international panel of judges will then get involved to determine the winners, who will receive their awards at a ceremony in Venice, Italy on April 5. Don’t delay, enter today!