What is an Innovation Challenge?
Large organizations create programs offering entrepreneurs large cash prizes for ideas solving a specific problem area.
We contributed a lot of time working with solar programs but STEM, clean water robotics, industrial IoT, unmanned systems (drones), eco-friendly luxury products, and everything else have programs. I see them in almost every industry and demographic focus.
We see them with top prizes from 10k to 1mil. Seriously.
Why would a company sponsor this? Why would someone pay inventors, entrepreneurs, and smaller businesses for ideas? It is a good deal for them. Don't big companies have all the resources they need? No.
Large organizations have execution resources (like money, infrastructure, and personnel) but lack the agility to easily uncover smaller opportunities or to deploy alternative technology and thinking. They lack the exploration capabilities especially in emerging, niche areas.
R&D at a billion dollar corporation is an expensive, process-oriented, highly-managed business function not the innovative free for all entrepreneurs enjoy.
Why do people sign up? People sign up, of course, for the funding but a lot of other benefits exist. You gain practice pitching. You receive feedback, mentorship, and resources inside the program.
MOST importantly ... you often leave these programs with a customer.
Building something no ones wants is why people fail Funding is the reason they cant execute. If you really had something people wanted, if you really had potential customers, you would have revenue, pre-orders, funding, investment, something.
How do people win Innovation Challenges?
People win with a killer pitch showing knowledge of customer, a team with the ability to execute, and traction (even letters of support) from industry.
Its not about getting a template from a website.
Its not about completing a business model canvas.
Those are tools to organize information into a common communications format ... communications tools that people have seen so often that comparison is easier. Knowing how to do the work, knowing how to get the answers is the tricky part.
Download our Innovation Challenge Resource Guide with winning tips and a program directory.
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