Open Innovation Service Providers
NASA, Johnson Space Center
Exploring Space, Enhancing Life
Like any large organization NASA has challenges that require creative solutions which may not be solved through traditional means such as grants, small business innovative research funding, NASA Research Announcements, Requests for Proposals, and internal projects. While the traditional routes draw from a knowledgeable group of experts, they also limit the opportunity for tapping expertise not already linked to the spaceflight community and miss solutions from a wider variety of disciplines . These traditional methods may only be available on an annual basis and may commit greater funding than initially required. In the past, an innovative solution or collaboration may have resulted from a professional relationship or meeting and may not repeatable; the key to driving innovation for space exploration is to establish a systematic approach that builds upon our internal expertise to expand our reach, and encourages a culture of collaboration. One tool in an evolving toolkit to achieve this is the use of Open Innovation Service providers to drive innovation and increase the likelihood for finding successful solutions and fruitful partnerships..
Open Innovation Service Providers (OISPs) approach problem solving by using the internet to tap into communication flow within and between virtual technical communities. In general, the OISP mindset is that innovation comes from where you least expect it; so you must look everywhere for it (from InnoCentive OnRamp training). The success of this approach has been corroborated by research by the Harvard Business School and the Berkley Haas School of Business, which has also shown that problems are often solved at the margins of disciplines. This means that someone from an unrelated field may have a novel approach to solving the problem, which is unbiased and unconventional but very applicable. This exciting approach to challenge/problem solving has additional benefits: cost effectiveness, short term contractual relationships, and participation of a global network. It is relatively inexpensive to post a challenge for 200,000 or more solvers to contemplate when compared to the costs of more traditional methods. Those solvers that propose a solution are only engaged for a few weeks, and in many cases produce a tangible product ready to be utilized with minor additional development required. The proposed solutions are reviewed and only those meeting NASA’s stringent success criteria will be selected and potentially offered short term contracts if further development is required. In most cases, the solution rights are transferred once an award has been given. If further collaboration is needed a short term contract to develop the idea or technology may be required.
The OISP methodology allows NASA to publicly issue challenges to seek innovative solutions and build awareness and collaboration with a global public. OISPs also represent a cost effective and efficient way to seek solutions to NASA’s challenges.
For more information, visit http://slsd.jsc.nasa.gov/