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Corporate ‘Prizes’ Driving Innovation

2 July 2014 at 11:25 am
Lina Caneva
As the global trend for corporate prize winning competitions to drive innovation increases, a new US report offers guidance for the public sector, Not for Profits and philanthropic foundations on cultivating the winning opportunities.

Lina Caneva | 2 July 2014 at 11:25 am


Corporate ‘Prizes’ Driving Innovation
2 July 2014 at 11:25 am

As the global trend for corporate prize winning competitions to drive innovation increases, a new US report offers guidance for the public sector, Not for Profits and philanthropic foundations on cultivating the winning opportunities.

A report released through Deloitte Consulting explores the burgeoning field of corporate and government prize competitions saying prizes increasingly serve as a creative mechanism for engaging the public, driving innovation and paying for results.

The Craft of Prize Design: Lessons from the Public Sector explains how the recent growth in the use of prizes has created an unprecedented opportunity for prize designers to share best practices and learn how to design the most effective competitions.

The study was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Case Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Knight Foundation, Kresge and the Rockefeller Foundation. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy also served as a key partner in the development of the report.

The report found that in the last four years, more than 50 US federal agencies have engaged citizen problem-solvers in more than 350 prizes. It said US philanthropies were also designing and launching sophisticated prizes in increasing numbers to tackle different types of challenges – from strengthening communities to encouraging more sustainable energy consumption to cultivating innovative solutions from city governments.

In Australia, technology giant Google extended it its global ‘innovation challenge’ to Australian Not for Profits offering a share in $2 million in grants to turn their technology-driven ideas into reality.

Google’s Impact Challenge Australia offers four winning submissions mentoring and technical support from Google employees and $AU500,000 grant funding to help bring their project to fruition.

Australians will be asked to vote for the winners from a pool of the top 10 Google Innovation finalists.

“From conceiving the Hills Hoist to inventing the bionic ear and WiFi, Australia has a rich history of innovation, fuelled by a desire to tackle tough problems with creative solutions,” Google Australia Managing Director Maile Carnegie said.

“We believe technology can help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, and we’re eager to back Australian innovators in the non-profit sector who are using technology to make an impact.”

“We want Not for Profits to look at their causes through a technological lense. Often they are very focused on solving problems and coming up with better solutions for a cause but often don’t look at computer science and software,” Google Australia Director of Engineering, Alan Noble, said.

“We’re asking them to take a step back and look at how technology can help achieve a bigger impact. We really want all our applicants to think big.”

Other Google Impact Challenges around the world have supported ideas ranging from smart cameras for wildlife conservation to solar lights for off-grid communities to a mobile application that helps to protect women from domestic violence.

Also in Australia depression Not for Profit beyondblue has launched a mobile app, as a result of beyondblue winning the 2013 Vodafone Foundation App Aid competition after receiving more than 700 crowdfunded donations.

The Check-In App aims to make it easier for young people to start conversations with friends who they are concerned may be experiencing depression or anxiety.

beyondblue raised more than $16,500 on the crowdfunding website Pozible, which was matched by a donation of $10,000 from the Vodafone Foundation and a bonus $25,000 for winning the competition by having the most supporters.

The US report The Craft of Prize Design characterises six of the most important outcomes that prizes designers try to achieve through the use of various incentives.

It also highlights the elements of prize design and the fundamental elements of successful prizes. Finally, the report provides practical guidance for prize designers, so that they can learn how to combine the elements of prize design to achieve the outcomes that they desire.

“Prizes are powerful tools for innovation because they create incentives for a wide range of individuals or organizations to cooperate with each other – and to compete against each other – to solve hard problems. If effectively designed, prizes can create bold, transformative results,” the report said.

Read the report in the library.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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