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Scientific American Open Innovation

Solve pressing science, technological, and policy problems and make innovation happen. Apply your expertise, stretch your creative boundaries, and win cash awards ranging from $5,000 to $1 million — all the while helping advance human progress and making the world a better place...

All Challenge postings and submissions are managed by InnoCentive.

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Ideas to Impact: Recycling Liquid Petroleum Gas Cylinders Across Sub-Saharan Africa

Challenge Reward: $40,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-licensing

Access to safe, clean and reliable sources of energy has a significant impact on health, quality of life, education and economic productivity. Particularly in the developing world, access to such type of energy has the potential to change the landscape in terms of poverty, exclusion, gender inequality, and, no less important, global warming. 

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a clean-burning, portable, and efficient fuel that is increasingly used in many developing countries. However, the existence of a large number of aging cylinders constitutes a worrying safety hazard due to lack of maintenance that puts populations in danger and ultimately hinders the growth of a successful LPG market. 

Hence, the Seeker to this Challenge is looking for high-value alternative uses for substandard cylinders, so that they can be recycled and removed from the LPG distribution channels. 

Engage in this Challenge and contribute to save lives and promote clean energy uptake throughout Africa! 

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

DEADLINE: Sep 07 2015 Project Rooms 588 Jul 07 2015
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Portable Roof Damage Detection

Challenge Reward: $75,000 USD Challenge Type: RTP

The Seeker desires a technology that can detect seen and unseen anomalies, such as hail damage, on asphalt shingle roofs. The technology must have the capacity to be made portable to the extent that a person could easily carry it up a ladder to a house roof. 

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires a written proposal, experimental proof-of-concept data, and, if requested by the Seeker, delivery of a working prototype. In the absence of delivery of a working prototype, the Seeker may make a partial award of up to $50,000 USD for a submission with proof-of-concept data and up to $25,000 USD for a purely theoretical Solution. In addition, Solutions chosen for prototype delivery will receive a $2,500 USD award upon delivery.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

DEADLINE: Nov 10 2015 Project Rooms 219 Aug 10 2015

The SUDEP Institute Challenge: Preventing Epilepsy Seizures

Challenge Reward: $30,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-licensing

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the leading cause of death in young adults who have epilepsy and poorly controlled seizures. Each year, more than 1 out of 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP, and, if seizures are uncontrolled, the risk increases to more than 1 out of 150.  Unfortunately, one-third of people living with epilepsy are faced with ongoing seizures despite all currently available therapies. Individuals who have frequent generalized tonic-clonic seizures appear to be at highest risk.

A widespread lack of awareness and ongoing fear and discrimination lead many individuals to hide their epilepsy and to accept ongoing seizures instead of seeking out more effective treatments. Additionally, because they do not understand that epilepsy can be life threatening, many do not adhere to their treatment plan to obtain complete seizure control – which is zero seizures. Many individuals with epilepsy may not achieve maximal seizure control because of lack of access to best therapies, poor adherence to prescribed therapies, or lifestyle factors that may provoke seizures. These circumstances and behaviors increase their risk of continued seizures, injuries, and SUDEP.

The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute is challenging Solvers to come up with ideas for a method/intervention to reduce the risk of seizures, especially convulsive or tonic-clonic seizures, with the purpose of preventing SUDEP. Can you help us create a tool to empower more people with epilepsy to improve seizure control?

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

DEADLINE: Oct 13 2015 Project Rooms 158 Aug 14 2015

Engineered Surfaces, Materials and Coatings for Aircraft Drag Reduction

Challenge Reward: $100,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-licensing

The Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) and its Engineered Surfaces, Materials and Coatings (ESMC) Team, under contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), is soliciting innovative cost effective ways to reduce drag on legacy Air Force aircraft. The Seeker is primarily searching for existing technologies or research studies, outside of the aircraft industry, that provide surface friction reduction in fluid mediums and have potential to be translated to the aircraft industry for skin friction reduction. Other sources of aircraft drag reduction are sought as well. Areas of particular interest include discovery of new materials or application processes to create engineered surfaces with drag effect of modifying streamwise airflow (e.g. riblets), or coatings to reduce skin friction drag.  These surfaces must be able to survive the environmental extremes of normal transport aircraft flight regimes. These Engineered Surfaces, Materials and Coatings (ESMC) should nominally last for several years and be easily applied to an existing aircraft to accomplish a reasonable Return on Investment (ROI) for applying to legacy transport aircraft.

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

DEADLINE: Sep 21 2015 Project Rooms 211 Aug 07 2015

Ideas to Impact: Recycling Liquid Petroleum Gas Cylinders Across Sub-Saharan Africa

Challenge Reward: $40,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-licensing

Access to safe, clean and reliable sources of energy has a significant impact on health, quality of life, education and economic productivity. Particularly in the developing world, access to such type of energy has the potential to change the landscape in terms of poverty, exclusion, gender inequality, and, no less important, global warming. 

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a clean-burning, portable, and efficient fuel that is increasingly used in many developing countries. However, the existence of a large number of aging cylinders constitutes a worrying safety hazard due to lack of maintenance that puts populations in danger and ultimately hinders the growth of a successful LPG market. 

Hence, the Seeker to this Challenge is looking for high-value alternative uses for substandard cylinders, so that they can be recycled and removed from the LPG distribution channels. 

Engage in this Challenge and contribute to save lives and promote clean energy uptake throughout Africa! 

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

DEADLINE: Sep 07 2015 Project Rooms 588 Jul 07 2015

New Concepts for Remote Fish Detection

Challenge Reward: $20,000 USD Challenge Type: Ideation

The ability to track individual or groups of fish is central to efforts to recover threatened and endangered fish species, and to reduce impacts to at-risk species. Reliable, affordable detection and tracking provides vital information about how many fish are present, where and why mortality occurs, and where and why species thrive. This enables fish recovery program managers to pursue targeted and more effective actions that can reduce mortality rates, improve habitat, and increase survival rates while continuing to meet the mission of the agency—delivery of water and power in case of Reclamation.  A successful solution will significantly reduce costs and dramatically increase the effectiveness and efficiency of various fish recovery efforts led by Federal, state, local, and/or other organizations.

The Bureau of Reclamation, in collaboration with other federal agencies (U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) are looking for detailed concepts for the next generation of fish tracking methods, beyond what is available and in the literature today. Emphasis is on accurate tracking of many fish, ease of use, longevity, and low cost.

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.

Privacy Advisory

This web site is hosted by a private entity and is not a service of the Bureau of Reclamation or the Department of the Interior (DOI). The solicitation and collection of your personal or individually identifiable information is subject to the host’s privacy and security policies and will not be shared with Reclamation or DOI unless you win the Challenge. Challenge winners’ personally identifiable information must be made available to Reclamation in order to collect an award. Please consult the Challenge Specific Agreement.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 195 Jul 27 2015

The SUDEP Institute Challenge: Empowering People with Epilepsy

Challenge Reward: $15,000 USD Challenge Type: Ideation

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the leading cause of death in young adults who have epilepsy and cannot control their seizures. Each year, more than 1 out of 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP, and, if seizures are uncontrolled, the risk increases to more than 1 out of 150. 

A widespread lack of awareness and ongoing fear and discrimination lead too many individuals to hide their epilepsy and to accept ongoing seizures instead of seeking out more effective treatments. This increases their risk of SUDEP. 

The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute is determined to change this and is challenging Solvers to come up with ideas for a creative advocacy campaign that encourages people with seizures and epilepsy to seek optimal seizure control and to educate themselves and their families about SUDEP and how they can mitigate its risks. In addition, the campaign should invite the broader health care community to talk about SUDEP, understand the importance of not accepting ongoing seizures, and pursue all effective treatment options. 

Can you help us to demystify seizures and epilepsy, and empower people with epilepsy? 

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 337 Jun 09 2015

Create Accessories to Enhance the Driving Experience

Challenge Reward: $15,000 USD Challenge Type: Ideation

Vehicles traveling in remote regions or through rugged terrain have unique durability requirements and often experience delays in obtaining replacement parts. Sparse population densities require self-sufficiency in instances of mechanical or electrical failure, hazardous weather, and other situations. Ford is searching for novel designs of accessories and the underlying process of coming up with solutions when driving in remote areas. To make the challenge realistic we are setting the challenge in Australia. 

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 689 May 01 2015

UKWIR Challenge: Detecting the Build-up of Blockages in Complex Fluid Networks

Challenge Reward: $15,000 USD Challenge Type: Ideation

The United Kingdom Water Industry Research (UKWIR) is seeking innovative solutions to detect the formation of blockages on the networks which can result in spillages from sewers that lead to troublesome property flooding and to contamination of waterways. 

The problem boils down to the ability to detect at early stages the formation of blockages in the complex fluid network that makes up the sewer system. Hence, UKWIR is seeking innovative solutions to monitor the sewer network and detect the formation of such blockages at early stages. 

Can you help us stopping the blockages which can lead to flooding? 

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 269 Apr 29 2015

DARPA Forecasting Chikungunya Challenge

Challenge Reward: See Details Challenge Type: RTP

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) seeks methods to accurately forecast the spread of chikungunya virus in the Caribbean, and North, Central, and South America.

This Challenge has a special award structure with awards of $150,000 and $100,000 for the top two overall Solvers and four honorable mention awards of $50,000 each. In addition, top Solvers in each Methodology Category (data, robustness, applicability, presentation, and computation) may win $10,000. The top six overall Solvers will be invited to DARPA for the Program Finale Meeting where they will participate in an interactive meeting to share best practices, collaborate, and facilitate continuing Solver community cohesion.

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation and multiple submissions of forecasts for the virus’ spread. Additionally, as a Prodigy Challenge an online leaderboard will be available to track Solver performance.

Privacy Advisory

This web site is hosted by a private entity and is not a service of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) or the Department of Defense (DoD). The solicitation and collection of your personal or individually identifiable information is subject to the host’s privacy and security policies and will not be shared with DARPA or the DoD unless you win the Challenge. Challenge winners’ personally identifiable information must be made available to DARPA in order to collect an award. Please consult the Challenge Specific Agreement.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 466 Aug 15 2014

Target Identification Mechanism for Bispecific Antibodies

Challenge Reward: Varies Challenge Type: eRFP

Bispecific antibodies (BsAbs) can offer advantages over conventional monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) because they have the potential to modulate two specific pharmacologies simultaneously. This can lead to greater efficacy than is achieved by either single mAbs or even mAb combination therapy. 

GSK has a strong interest in this emerging area of biopharmaceuticals, and has made and assessed many experimental BsAbs, as well as progressed a lead BsAb molecule to an experimental clinical study. For certain BsAb target pairings we have also seen early promise of differentiation from standard mAb combination approaches. 

Whilst the best recognised medical application of BsAb use is in driving T-cell activation, GSK is also interested in ‘direct’ antibody actions, such as the inhibition or activation of conventional ligand/receptor target pairs. 

GSK are therefore keen to work with the wider R&D community to understand if there are methods by which we can (i) predict the ability of any given target pair to act synergistically, and within this space (ii) predict target combinations that might be uniquely suitable to modulation by a BsAb, and therefore create medicines with the potential to be more efficacious than the equivalent mAb combination therapy. 

This is an electronic Request-for-Partners (eRFP) Challenge; the Solver will only need to submit a written proposal to be evaluated by the Seeker with a goal of establishing a GSK funded collaborative partnership.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 159 Nov 20 2014

NIH Single Cell Analysis Challenge: Follow That Cell

Challenge Reward: $100,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-licensing

Many biological experiments are performed under the assumption that all cells of a particular “type” are identical. However, recent data suggest that individual cells within a single population may differ quite significantly and these differences can drive the health and function of the entire cell population. Single cell analysis comprises a broad field that covers advanced optical, electrochemical, mass spectrometry instrumentation, and sensor technology, as well as separation and sequencing techniques. Although the approaches currently in use can offer snapshots of single cells, the methods are often not amenable to longitudinal studies that monitor changes in individual cells in situ.

The NIH Single Cell Analysis Program (SCAP) is searching for novel methods for analyzing dynamic states of individual cells that can serve as the basis for predicting alterations in cell behavior and function over time. The ultimate goal is to develop new tools and methods that allow time-dependent measurements at the single cell level in a complex tissue environment to assess functional changes, provide information on the health status of a given cell, and help guide diagnosis and therapeutic treatments related to human disease states. Technological breakthroughs in this arena could allow researchers and physicians to identify rare cells in a mixed population such as individual cells that can transform and become cancerous; cells that are latently infected with a pathogenic virus; or cells that develop resistance to drugs over time. This challenge is structured in 2 phases: Phase 1 is a Theoretical Challenge and Phase 2, a Reduction to Practice Challenge. Phase 1 may award up to 6 prizes from a total prize award pool of $100,000 for the theoretical portion of the competition.

In addition to the direct monetary awards, the prize winners and selected runners-up will be recognized by the NIH Common Fund Single Cell Analysis Program and invited to attend The 3rd Annual Single Cell Analysis Investigators Meeting in Rockville, Maryland, USA on April 20, 2015. In addition to the public announcement, this opportunity may include paid travel and accommodations to the event and potential participation as an invited speaker at the discretion of the NIH.

Prize winners and selected runners-up with a qualifying score in Phase 1 will be invited to participate in Phase 2, which is a Reduction to Practice challenge to provide proof of concept data related to their Phase 1 entries. Phase 2 may award up to 2 winning solutions from a total pool of $400,000.

Phase 1 (Theoretical) Challenge requires only a written proposal.

Phase 2 (Reduction to Practice) Challenge will require documentation of Phase 1 implementation including the submission of data.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 696 Aug 15 2014

Individualization of Heating Costs in Multi-Occupant Buildings

Challenge Reward: $20,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-IP Transfer

Hot water heating systems have a couple of different models in residential building with multiple units. Laws demanding the separation of thermal energy costs for each individual unit make it very difficult to measure and comply with certain distribution systems. A new solution is desired to measure the thermal energy consumed of residential units with specific distribution systems. Details are given inside the Challenge. 

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 488 Oct 17 2014

Solid-waste Management in Humanitarian Response

Challenge Reward: $15,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-licensing

When large numbers of people are displaced due to natural or man-made disasters, they flee their homes and settle in formal or informal camps. One major problem is the management of solid wastes (trash, rubbish, garbage, litter) produced by large numbers of people in a relatively small area. Improper management of solid wastes leads to many issues, mostly centered on degrading the health of the people involved. We are searching for the most economical process of managing solid wastes without worsening the already poor living conditions in these areas or causing harm to individuals or the environment.

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

(photo by Jenkins Macedo)

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 576 Feb 05 2014

Non-Destructive Quantitative Testing of Adhesive Bond Strength

Challenge Reward: $20,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-licensing

How can we test the mechanical properties of a bond between 2 structures without breaking or damaging the bond or the substrate materials? This challenge is looking for non-destructive testing methods or technologies that will enable accurate prediction of the strength of an adhesive bond between heterogenous materials. 

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

 

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 524 Mar 15 2013

Synthesis for Si(O1-zXz)y (X = B, C, N, S, Cl)

Challenge Reward: $30,000 USD Challenge Type: RTP

A method is needed to synthesize Si(O1-zXz)y (X = B, C, N, S, Cl; where 0.2 < z < 0.5; 0.5 < y < 1.5) meeting specific requirements. 

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires a written proposal and experimental proof-of-concept data (and/or sample delivery).

 

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 98 Jan 29 2013

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – a common saying that is particularly true when it comes to peoples’ long-term health.  The Seeker for this Challenge, UnitedHealthcare, seeks to promote healthier lifestyles and/or new approaches for managing widespread chronic conditions by taking advantage of two exciting dynamics in today’s marketplace – innovative consumer technologies and consumer-centric health solutions.  Accordingly, they are seeking prototypes of novel combinations or modifications (“mods”) of existing, off-the-shelf consumer technology (including computer software and smartphone applications) that could be used to improve peoples’ health and quality of life. 

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires a written proposal and experimental proof-of-concept data (and/or prototype delivery).  In the absence of a proven solution, however, the Seeker may make a partial award of up to $20,000 USD for a purely theoretical contribution.  In addition to the Challenge award, the Seeker may be interested in further collaboration with winning Solver(s) to further advance this project.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 854 Jan 08 2013

Surface Modification of PTFE Nanopowder

Challenge Reward: $15,000 USD Challenge Type: Theoretical-IP Transfer

A method or treatment is required to allow complete dispersion of PTFE nanopowder particles in a hydrophilic solvent. 

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 265 Feb 08 2013

Novel Design for a Simple Timer Based on Fluid Flow and Color Change

Challenge Reward: $50,000 USD Challenge Type: RTP

This Challenge seeks novel prototypes for a simple reusable timer based on the principles of reverse fluid flow and color change. 

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires both a written proposal and experimental proof-of-concept evidence. Solvers may submit 1-page abstracts describing their proposed solution by 14-Jan-2013 to receive brief feedback from the Seeker before committing to experimental work.

»  Read more at InnoCentive

UNDER EVALUATION Project Rooms 643 Dec 13 2012

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