Innovation Challenges

Innovation prizes (a.k.a. Inducement prizes, or innovation contests) have been utilized for centuries by governments to spark innovation at a societal level. In the recent years, especially with the growth of the internet, these have been utilized by large companies to organize corporate innovation contests; similary, web-based platforms offering open innovation platforms services to companies have sprouted.
Also, academic and corporate open innovation initiatives nowadays blend with tech community events such as hackathons (e.g. corporate hackathons).

Prizes impact on companies innovation capacity is well known, and for that reason current research recognizes prizes as an open innovation policy tool. Policy makers are also aware of this: the EC has been urging innovation agencies to experiment innovative policy tools bases on innovation contests: EASME – The European Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises of the European Commission, has been financing programs aimed at boosting the capacity of public innovation intermediaries to support innovation in SME thanks to the activation of new support programmes. One of these projects is INNOSUP-5 CSA project “INNOCHALLENGE” INNOCHALLENGE (, which gathered good practices of SME support initiatives based on the tenets of Innovation Challenges. Also, the project delivered a Canvas and a visual guide that can be utilized by Innovation Agencies to design and implement new Innovation Challenges, tailored around specific needs and contexts. Both the Canvas and the visual guide can be freely downloaded at the INNOCHALLENGE project website.

The twelve building blocks of an Innovation Challenge

Project 200SMEchallenge will allow seven project partners to set up and carry out one Innovation Challenge that allows companies to improve and innovate the usability and user experience of digital products with the involvement of university students and end users: UX Challenge. Overall, the UX Challenge aims at accelerating the adoption of user-centered design in Small and Medium Enterprises.

Recomended reads:

01 “INNOVATION CHALLENGES! A Practical Guide to Design Initiatives to Support Open Innovation in SMEs.” 

Doppio, Nicola, Luca Mion, Satu Väinämö, Katre Purga, and Pirjo Koskiniemi. 2018.

02 “Innovation Contests: A Review, Classification and Outlook.” Creativity and Innovation Management 21 (4): 335–60.

Adamczyk, Sabrina, Angelika C. Bullinger, and Kathrin M. Möslein. 2012.

03 “Grand Innovation Prizes: A Theoretical, Normative, and Empirical Evaluation.” Research Policy 41 (10): 1779–92.

Murray, Fiona, Scott Stern, Georgina Campbell, and Alan MacCormack. 2012.

04 “Challenge Prizes: A Practice Guide.”

Nesta. 2014.

05 “Innovation Inducement Prizes: Connecting Research to Policy.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 31 (4): 752–76.

Williams, Heidi. 2012.

06 “Contests as Innovation Policy Instruments: Lessons from the US Federal Agencies’ Experience.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 127 (March 2016): 57–69.

Liotard, Isabelle, and Valérie Revest. 2018.

07 “Toolkits for Idea Competitions: Anovel Method to Integrate Users in New Product Development.” R&D Management 36 (3): 307–18.

Piller, Frank, and Dominik Walcher. 2006.

08 “The Craft of Incentive Prize Design: Lessons from the Public Sector.”

Goldhammer, Jesse, Kwasi Mitchell, Anesa “Nes” Parker, Brad Anderson, and Sahil Joshi. 2014.

09 “The Impact of Innovation Inducement Prizes.” In Handbook of Innovation
Policy Impact, 649–75.

Gök, Abdullah. 2016.

10 “Open R&D and Open Innovation: Exploring the Phenomenon.” R and D Management 39 (4): 311–16.

Chesbrough, Henry W. 2009.