TEDx Rosslyn Talk
Prizes and Challenges Program Executive
Questions? Contact Jenn Gustetic, Prizes and Challenges Program Executive
Challenges use a focused problem-statement approach to obtain solutions and/or stimulate innovation from a broad, sometimes undefined, public rather than a specific, named group or individual. Prize competitions and crowdsourcing are two specific techniques for implementing challenges. In support of its responsibility for providing principal advice and advocacy on NASA-wide technology policy and programs, the Office of the Chief Technologist is actively coordinating these open innovation methods to support the development and implementation of new innovation and collaboration models for NASA.
A challenge implemented as a prize competition is intended to stimulate innovation in a manner that has the potential to advance NASA’s mission through the offer of a competitive award. Benefits to sponsors of prize competitions include paying only for results, exploring a wide breadth and depth of potential solutions, targeting an ambitious goal without predicting which team or approach is most likely to succeed, reaching beyond usual suspects to tap top talent, and bringing out-of-discipline perspectives to bear. Prize competitions also can encourage the development of new companies and products.
A challenge implemented through crowdsourcing is intended to solicit products, services, ideas, or content contributions from many people, oftentimes (but not necessarily) through the Internet, and may result in the making of award(s). Crowdsourcing is different from ordinary outsourcing because a task or problem is outsourced to an undefined public rather than to a specific, named group or individual.
Prizes and Open Innovation
NASA recognizes the power of public ingenuity in solving tough problems and the value of using prizes and crowdsourcing to engage broader audiences. NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist coordinates closely with the NASA Centers, Mission Directorates, and external stakeholders to enable, monitor and support these efforts. We look forward to continuing to make meaningful progress together with individuals, groups and organizations. The following is a list of current programs and platforms that offer NASA prize competition and crowdsourcing activities.
NASA's Centennial Challenge Program directly engages the public at large in the process of advanced technology development that is of value to NASA’s missions and to the aerospace community.
NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation serves as an integrator of government agencies to form a “Collaborative Innovation Community of Practice”. The initial focus is on open innovation, with the intent to include other innovation methodologies and related and/or supporting communities of practice (e.g., legal) in the future. – The CoECI administers the NASA Innovation Pavilion, NASA Tournament Lab and NASA@work for the agency.
NASA Innovation Pavilion shares individual challenges within an established network of solvers on the InnoCentive platform, providing financial award if the solution is deemed viable by the sponsoring organization.
NASA Tournament Lab is an operational virtual facility developed between NASA, Harvard, and TopCoder and other competition platforms like Tongal, established to enable communities to compete to create the most innovative, efficient, and optimized solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by NASA researchers.
NASA@work is an internal collaboration platform that connects the collective knowledge of individual experts from all areas within the NASA organization via a private web based environment supported by InnoCentive. [NASA Internal Only]
Challenge.gov is an online challenge platform administered by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) that empowers the U.S. government and the public. This platform is the latest milestone in the Administration’s commitment to use prizes and challenges to promote innovation. NASA is using Challenge.gov to list challenge opportunities provided by Centennial Challenges, NASA Tournament Lab, and others to collocate opportunities with the rest of the federal government.
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“From the Centennial Challenges Program, to the NASA Open Innovation Pavilion, to the NASA Tournament Lab, NASA is a public-sector leader with breadth and depth of experience and experimentation with prizes and challenges. Through COECI, NASA leverages that expertise across all NASA centers and directorates and helps other Federal agencies follow in its footsteps."
—White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Report to Congress on Government Prize Use, 2013