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!

Rise of the Machines – How Crowdsourcing Solutions are Solving Problems for the Robotics Industry

Rise of the Machines – How Crowdsourcing Solutions are Solving Problems for the Robotics Industry

Follow the news today and you’re likely to read something about how crowdsourcing is aiding advances in the robotics industry. This week alone we’ve seen stories concerning robots entering the healthcare industry, further advances in self-driving car technology, and even talking toilets.

In 2018, 56 million smart speakers were sold across the globe, making this the fastest growing consumer technology in today’s marketplace.

For many A.I. robotics, AR, and VR companies, crowdsourcing is a crucial part of their research and development processes. Although many people confuse crowdfunding with crowdsourcing, it’s the latter that is shaping and revolutionising the way we collaborate and pool knowledge on a global scale.

Before the internet, who would have imagined such a luxury? A platform where the world’s smartest minds can work together instantaneously for the greater good of our species. An innovative source of collaboration enhanced by technologies that offer lightning fast communication and gratification.

So, let’s take a look at four companies that are using robotics and solving problems using crowdsourcing solutions.

Horizon Robotics:

The Chinese A.I. chipmaker has just unveiled NavNet at CES2019. This will be a crowdsourced HD map data collection and positioning solution that will be integrated into vehicles for map data collection across the globe. This real time mapping will be collated via a monocular camera visual perception application.

This is a prime example of how robotic technology can incorporate crowdsourcing automation, and utilise the information gathered to enhance existing technologies and solutions.

RoboTurk:

RoboTurk is a crowdsourcing platform from the University of Stanford Vision and Learning for imitation learning projects in the robotics industry. In order to teach the latest A.I computer systems and robots how to emulate our thought processes and actions, we need information. What better way to collate this information than to crowdsource, thus collecting the most important/relevant data from the best possible sources.

RoboTurk implement large scale data collection via crowdsourcing platforms in order to reinforce learning for their robotics systems. This way, their robots can quickly learn to imitate specific tasks, based on the collation of information via crowdsourcing.

NASA:

Even the space giant NASA has embraced crowdsourcing as a way to further research and innovate in the development of new robotic technology.

In 2018 they launched their Astrobee project. Astrobee is the name of a space robot that NASA will be sending to their International Space Station. Like terrestrial robots, Astrobee will rely on specialized equipment to interact with the environment around it. NASA has been drawing up plans for a lightweight articulated arm that folds into a compartment inside the robot’s body, but it has also been running a crowdsourcing contest to solicit outside designs for various mechanisms and components that will make up the arm.

DHL:

In 2018, DHL harnessed the power of A.I, robotics, and crowdsourcing in a bid to compete against Amazon.

Its DHL eCommerce unit launched ‘DHL Parcel Metro’, a new service that helps online retailers satisfy customer demands for same- or next-day delivery.

Parcel Metro uses customised software that allows DHL eCommerce to create a ‘virtual delivery network’ of local or regional contract couriers along with crowd-sourced providers. This ensures maximum flexibility and capacity over the last mile.

By implementing crowdsourcing technology to source local and regional providers, they are maximising their footfall to serve potential customers. They also used collaborative robots and A.I glasses to streamline their warehouse communications. This could well help them get a competitive edge on their services across the globe.

These are just a handful of examples of how some of the world’s most innovative global robotics companies are harnessing the potential of crowdsourcing solutions in order to enhance their services.

Each week we see advancements in how the A.I. and robotics industries are using crowdfunding to collate knowledge and aid machine learning using the best data, collected from the sharpest human minds. It’s great to see that without collective human input, machine learning would be a more tedious and inefficient process.

The benefits of crowdsourcing are limitless and incredible when implemented for the greater good. Indeed, even President Trump has endorsed the idea of crowdsourcing to help build his ‘Great Wall’. So please, let’s keep crowdsourcing in the correct hands as we navigate this advancing landscape throughout 2019 and beyond.

Boldest Future Robot” is one of the dozen categories in our BOLD Awards. We are accepting entries be up to February 8 and then the crowd will have its say with a public vote to reduce the field to 5 entries in each category. An international panel of judges will help decide the winners, who will receive their awards at a black-tie ceremony in Venice, Italy on April 5 2019. What are you waiting for? Please send us your entry!

How to Use Crowdsourcing to Improve Your Content Marketing

How to Use Crowdsourcing to Improve Your Content Marketing

No matter the scale of your business or the specific nature of your target audience, content marketing has a huge role to play in your overall advertising strategy. However, you may not have unlimited resources to allocate to content marketing, or maybe you may want to integrate your customers or employees into the content itself.

Enter crowdsourcing, a new way to market your brand and attract an audience through relatable and down-to-earth content. While it may seem abstract at first, crowdsourcing is a unique and contemporary way to approach marketing, no matter the niche you operate in. Let’s take a look then at how you can use crowdsourcing in your existing content creation strategies without disrupting what already works.

Benefits of Crowdsourcing

  • Increased Trust

People usually trust testimonials and quotes more than typical advertising calls to action. Crowdsourcing can help you establish a clear and strong precedent for your campaign’s message.

  • Low Cost

Since crowdsourcing is based around voluntary reviews, quotes and social proof, there is virtually no cost involved in the content creation process itself. While you will have to set aside a budget for paid advertisement or the design of your content, the gist of it will come with low cost and very lucrative RoI.

  • Endless Options

Once you put the word out, there are no limits to what crowdsourcing can bring to your table. People outside of your company and those with a clearer image of your brand will be able to craft unique, creative and fresh messages for you to publish.

  • Set Concrete Goals

Crowdsourcing doesn’t have to target third-party stakeholders or customers at all. You can target your content at existing employees, future job candidates or even students who might want to work in your company one day. However, it’s important to set very concrete goals for your crowdsourcing campaign before you get started.

Chris Barkley, content marketer at TrustMyPaper had this to say on the matter: “Without concrete goals, a marketing campaign will provide you with no actionable data afterward. It’s important to at least set aside some time and discuss the potential PR response of your content before you publish it with your brand’s name on it.” Make sure that you know what KPIs you will strive to fulfill as well as what the general message of your campaign will be.

  • Develop a Source Profile

Usually you would develop a customer profile and work your way backwards when it comes to traditional content marketing. In terms of crowdsourcing however, you should create a profile of your source personas first and foremost. What kind of people do you want to interview and ask for testimonials, reviews, social proof or word-of-mouthk approval?

Do you want to publish content with corporate managers in front and center? Or do you prefer to showcase your interns and show the world that you are building a better future for your company through youth programs? The people you showcase in your content will directly determine the type of stakeholders you will attract and engage with your content in the coming weeks.

  • Advertise your Needs

Once you know who you want to feature in your crowdsourcing content, you should put the word out. You will undoubtedly receive plenty of useful content from all around your company or customer base depending on the route you chose to take. However, it’s important to remain selective and set a high bar for quality of the content you will use.

Not every quote or statement will be 100% adequate for the general message of your campaign or brand as a whole. In that respect, it’s good practice to start small and target your trusted channels of communication first and foremost. Nearby places like social media groups, chat rooms, lunch break talk and so on should be first priority. If you don’t receive the desired response through local channels, expand until you hit the jackpot.

  • Create Content Based on the Proof

Given that you have now gathered enough materials to work with, you can start producing your new content. The content you create should be varied in type, length and medium it is applied to. For example, you can create social media posts with static images and text in quotation marks. You can similarly create short video clips with your crowdsourcing volunteers in which they will say the words themselves for added credibility.

Another great idea is to implement the gathered testimonials in your blog posts in highlighted spots in order to drive a point forward and market your products/services in this way instead. There are no limits to what you can do with crowdsourcing content, so make sure to experiment and see which content types fit your brand and target audience the best.

In Summation

Crowdsourcing can provide the much-needed breath of fresh air for your content marketing strategy. Take every testimonial into consideration once you start receiving potential quotes and statements based on your requirements.

While some of them may not be perfect for the here-and-now, you can still use them for future campaigns and cover your bases for the next several content plans as a result. Take crowdsourcing into serious consideration if you are out of content ideas and want to spruce your brand up to be more trendy and appealing.

What have been the benefits and achievements of your own content marketing activities, or any other crowdsourced marketing initiatives? “The Boldest Crowdsourced Marketing/Advertising Campaign” is a category in the 2019 BOLD Awards. Entries are currently being submitted in all categories and will be posted online for a period of public voting from February 1. A shortlist of entries in each category will be assessed by an international panel of judges, and winners will receive their awards at a black-tie ceremony in Venice, Italy, on April 5 2019. You’ve got to be in it to win it, submit your entry here.

Boldest Blockchain Platforms

Boldest Blockchain Platforms

From unknown, to renowned, to unknown again, blockchain technology’s past year has been tumultuous. Optimism abounded at the beginning of 2018. A technological revolution was happening. However, the outcome of that revolution was much more sobering. Today, in the aftermath of a ravaged digital assets market, which is the most publicly recognized use of blockchain technology, we are left with more questions than before. While the debate over blockchain’s future rages on, we must ponder what purpose decentralization serves and whether it is truly necessary?

This answer is clearly demonstrated by global historical trends. It’s been shown that highly valuable systems must be decentralized. Whether politically decentralized via democracy, or economically decentralized via capitalism, the historical trend shows clearly that decentralization by way of the majority is the only way of preventing tyranny by the minority. The questions that remain after the recent crypto-crash are not whether decentralization is valuable, but rather what industries and systems should be decentralized, and what technological hurdles must still be overcome? The answers to these questions will define the coming age of Decentralized Ledger Technologies (DLTs), transform the digital landscape, and guide waves of entrepreneurs and investors.

These questions serve as a guide for the upcoming BOLD AwardsBoldest Blockchain Platform. The projects that will define the coming era of DLTs will offer solutions that transform struggling industries, solve the existing challenges plaguing DLTs, and innovate effectively. The following projects are unique in their visions, approaches, and technological innovations.

Boldest Blockchain PlatformsEthereum – Ethereum has continued to lead the development of DLTs. Ethereum’s recent release of the Plasma testnet with zero-knowledge proof integration proves that Ethereum is dedicated to solving its existing scalability problems. Plasma provides an effective scaling solution and zero-knowledge proofs enable advanced privacy features. With by far the largest community of developers and corporate partners, Ethereum continues to offer bold innovations to overcome today’s decentralization challenges.

Chainspace – Chainspace offers unique approaches to privacy, scalability, and reliability. Chainspace makes use of a state shared infrastructure, distributing processes to independent shards within the network. These shards (collections of nodes), maintain a history of the network state and execute processing commands. This effectively solves the common bottleneck problems with current blockchain systems where the entire network must process every transaction. Chainspace’s unique S-BAC atomic commit protocol allows transactions to utilize multiple shards and ensures that they only ever execute smart contracts together. Led by an accredited team of researchers at University College London, Chainspace is bringing forth a customizable, highly secure system for decentralized application development.

Cartesi – One challenge of decentralized technology is balancing between the reliability of on-chain transactions and the cost-effectiveness of off-chain ones. Take Ethereum for example, while computations performed by the Ethereum network are incredibly reliable, they are impractically expensive for computationally intensive demands. Cartesi bridges this divide, offering an effective way of validating and confirming off-chain computations for their eventual inclusion onto the blockchain. This will ultimately enable cheaper off-chain computations with the security of blockchain immutability. Cartesi’s support of verifiable external computations and ingenious validation process make all this possible.

Sovrin – Sovrin approaches the issue of digital identity, offering a blockchain solution to a widely problematic industry. Sovrin offers a self-sovereign identity system that will put individuals in control of their digital identity. Sovrin utilizes a network of trusted validation “nodes” which include some of the world’s most influential companies, including Cisco, IBM, Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Mobile’s innovation unit), and Absa Group – Barclay’s Africa. In other words, the Sovrin solution will allow individuals to maintain their digital identity, backed by numerous international corporations.

Dfinity – Dfinity is a blockchain platform tackling central questions such as how to safely and effectively reach consensus based on randomness. Randomness ultimately ensures that the process is unpredictable and thus, trustworthy. Dfinity’s use of a random beacon and its threshold signature scheme ensure that its core consensus system is both safe and verifiable. Additionally, Dfinity’s Blockchain Nervous System is an A.I. system that can make network changes to protect against abuses and issues. And with research centers at Palo Alto and Zurich and in Stanford University, Dfinity has the talent to cement itself as a DLT leader and the features to support complex applications.

Solana – Solana has a similar goal as Chainspace, namely, to create a verifiable way of tracking transactions without requiring the whole network to store every transaction. It accomplishes this through a unique, Proof of History system. Proof of History, when combined with Solana’s Proof of Stake consensus variation, allows the network to scale efficiently and securely.

As we advance towards a more decentralized future, exceptional innovations and talented leaders will guide the way. Projects will need to navigate a complicated landscape of technological tradeoffs, obstinate established industries, and scalability challenges. Bold approaches will be needed to overcome these obstacles.

Entries to the BOLD Awards are being accepted now in 12 categories, including Boldest Blockchain Platform. The power of the crowd through public voting from February 8 will reduce entries to a shortlist of five in each category, at which point an international panel of judges will be involved in selecting the category winners. Awards will be presented at a ceremony orgnised by our event partner H-FARM in Venice, Italy, on 5 April 2019. Please take a look, enter your project if you’ve worked on one (or more), and be ready to vote for your favorites from February 8.

Searching for the Boldest Citizen Scientist

Searching for the Boldest Citizen Scientist

For centuries, science has been the pursuit of amateur, self-funded and self-motivated scientists: Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin and Thomas Edison – to name just a few. However, in the first half of the 20th century, science became dominated by researchers employed by universities and government research laboratories. It isn’t surprising: the scientific revolutions of the 20th century have created a hyper-complex environment, divided into endless fields of expertise, each of which requires years of training to become an expert or to master a skill. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule? In his 2008 best-seller “Outliers: the Story of Success” he argues that only by reaching 10,000 hours of practice could one become an outlier.

However, already in the 1970s, this transformation was being called into question, when scientists started calling for a democratization and decentralization of science, bringing science back to nature-loving amateurs in the tradition of Descartes, Newton, and Darwin. Today, with the growing popularity of crowdsourcing, and with the abundance of IT platforms which empower crowd participation, a new type of scientist is emerging: The Citizen Scientists, also known as community science, crowd-science, crowdsourced science. 

The terms citizen science and citizen scientists are defined by the Oxford Living Dictionary as “The collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.” That means that a Citizen Scientist is a person who feels responsibility to the greater good, and who is engaged in collaborative scientific work, usually under the guidance of a “professional” scientific establishment.

Citizen scientists can accelerate research in almost any field. Chris Lintott, a professor of astrophysics and the citizen science lead at the University of Oxford, argues that the projects he leads are collaborative endeavors that anyone could get involved in, since they require the identification of patterns in data, graphs, or images, which anybody can perform after a short tutorial. Lintott knows what he is talking about: is a co-founder of Galaxy Zoo, a citizen science project in which volunteers classify types of galaxies, and the principal investigator for the Zooniverse citizen science web portal.

There are scores of examples for this crowdsourced science: a classic example is that of Tim Gowers, who posted in his blog a mathematical question and in a matter of days the commenters had solved it. This gave birth to the Polymath Project, an online effort to solve some mathematics problems. In July 2017, NASA asked citizen scientists to participate in an experiment during the August solar eclipse. Participants were asked to collect cloud and air temperature data and report it using smartphones. The observations made by citizen scientists will be used to produce an interactive map. Finally, the Milky Way Project is another example of citizen scientists helping classify images from space. In this case, volunteers study infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope and WISE satellite,  in order to classify various objects. Citizen scientists helped astronomers source “yellowballs,” star-forming regions, as part of this project.

Indeed, there are a number of challenges to consider when involving a large group of participants with diverse backgrounds in scientific projects: some projects may not be suitable for volunteers, for instance, when they use complex research methods or require repetitive work. If volunteers lack proper training in research protocols, they are at risk of introducing bias into the data. Others may lie about data. This risk is even greater when prizes are awarded as an incentive to participate. Finally, the question of data accuracy remains open. While these risks cannot be overlooked, involving the crowd in relevant phases of a scientific work, could really be a force multiplayer, and promote scientific breakthroughs.  

Want to get involved? Advancing human understanding in many scientific fields is your dream? There are many resources out there for finding citizen science projects and getting involved. We have already mentioned the Zooniverse platform has many opportunities, as do iNaturalistCrowdcrafting, and CitSci.org. Who knows – you might discover something really cool and significant, which isn’t only important, but also a great deal of fun.

We are on our own voyage of discovery, using the BOLD Awards program to find the boldest scientific crowdsourcing project completed in the past two years (it could have started earlier). This is one of 12 categories of awards that will be presented at a ceremony in Venice, Italy, on April 5 2019. You can enter your own project up to February 8. Initial entries will be posted online for public voting from February 9 to reach a shortlist of five entrants per category, with an international judging panel involved to select a final winner.  Good luck!

Is the Fading Popularity of ICOs Terminal?

Is the Fading Popularity of ICOs Terminal?

Cryptocurrencies are massively disrupting the financial sector. This time last year we witnessed something amazing for the first time in history: people became aware of cryptocurrencies at large and started actively buying them, resulting in massive price jumps in value of specific coins.

Bitcoin was the leader of this movement, and it is still the most popular coin in the cryptocurrency market. However, Ethereum was in second-place in terms of popularity, mainly because it paved the way for Initial Coin Offerings to emerge.

All of a sudden, we  witnessed hundreds of companies selling their tokens and collecting money for their projects. However, something didn’t seem right with some of them – they sounded too good to be true. Guess what? Some of them turned out to be scams.

According to an article by Bitcoin.com, 80% of the ICOs that appeared on the market were actually scams. Out of those which were not scams, one-third failed to execute their goals or simply went dead when they collected the money. Only 8% of all ICOs actually moved on to trade, and even not all of them were successful all the way through. When we take a look at the whole picture, it seems that only about 2% of the ICOs made it.

A room for scams

Naturally, many people saw an opportunity for a sting operation to get the money and disappear forever. These types of scams were sophisticated in a way, as scammers made detailed websites with promising whitepapers and affordable tokens.

They even made fake LinkedIn profiles of the team members and came up with their fake biographies. Some even went as far as promoting their ICOs on social media. All of it seemed so believable. “Of course I want to take part in this revolutionary change,” a newbie investor might say, and lose their money forever.

Is the Fading Popularity of ICOs Terminal?

Few of the ICOs lived up to the expectations of the investors even when they were not scams. Hundreds of token sales were a good idea on paper, but just didn’t work in real life, no matter how detailed their whitepapers were. Some of the projects even promised to bring in revolutionary changes in various industries. We witnessed it all: from flying cars to token-powered smart farms.

Others were proposed though failed to see daylight, such as the world’s first “green tokens” proposed by the Swedish electric vehicle company Uniti, who then in early 2019 went on to beat a £1m equity crowdfunding target in the UK prior to setting up their first production line.

Despite the recent lack of popularity in the past couple of months, it is still challenging to conclude whether ICOs will fade away.

One of the possible scenarios is that the number of ICOs would decrease and all of them would be
relevant. Let’s assume that people will become better educated about them and would be able to tell the fakes from the real ones. Finally, when you tell the scams from the real projects, you must know which of those are going to be successful, and it is a bit more challenging task. Let’s take a look!

What makes the cryptocurrency project a success?

When deciding where to invest, you should thoroughly examine a couple of things related to an ICO that can show you whether it is worth risking your time, energy and money.

Technical aspects

First of all, you should pay attention to the whitepaper. You can usually find the whitepaper on the website of the ICO you are currently considering. Turn on your critical thinking and read through the paper carefully, no matter how long it may seem. Try focusing on areas of the whitepaper that may seem problematic to you. They may have used a vague language or deliberately left out some critical pieces of information. If all numbers add up well, try distancing yourself from the whitepaper and thinking about the project it proposes. We suggest you talk to people who are experts in the area that
the whitepaper covers and ask them whether the project presented is worth investing in.

Development team

The second thing you should focus on is the team. We already stated that LinkedIn profiles do not prove the identity of the members. Try doing research on your own and finding relevant pages, which are connected to the previous projects of the team members. If they have a history of successful projects where you can see the results, you should definitely consider investing in that ICO.

Other indicators

Transparency also plays a crucial role when choosing an ICO. If the company behind the token sale is making all their actions and transactions transparent, that is one more reason to trust them and think of them as being a serious project.

Make sure to keep an eye on how the tokens are distributed and what you can actually do with the tokens you buy. Although you might need a bit of financial knowledge to have a thorough insight into the tokens, you can make some conclusions on your own and by consulting various forums.

Finally, a successful ICO project has a great marketing campaign which reaches the key investors and persuades them to invest in that project. If they are doing their job right from the beginning, they are probably going to continue working hard and achieving the goals of the project.

A few breakthrough projects to keep an eye on

If you are not certain which ICO will end up being successful in the end, you can always consult blogs and forums for investment advice. Some of the projects which are hot right now and can change the world for the better are:
● HYGH – Innovative marketing & advertising solutions
● Fidelity House – a Social Content Network where people could earn tokens from creating
content
● CoinAnalyst – something like Bloomberg for cryptos and ICOs
● Proof of TOSS – blockchain-based betting protocol that revolutionizes how we bet on sports

Although these lists often change, the most serious projects usually top them for a couple of weeks.

Our BOLD Awards are looking for the most transformative digital currency launched in the past two years. Entrants must explain and provide evidence to demonstrate what exceptional measures were taken or innovative techniques used to result in their crypto/ ICO being valued above the expected standard. Entries can be submitted up to February 8 and they will be posted online for public voting to establish a shortlist of five entries in this and eleven other categories. An international panel of judges will then help select category winners and the awards will be made in Venice, Italy, on April 5 2019, hosted by the innovation and startup accelerator hub H-FARM. Have you a project to enter – we’d love to see it!