Open innovation (leveraging people outside of an organization) has a long history of ocean-related use.  Crowd-solving has proven its ability to rapidly and cost-effectively move forward past previously-intractable problems of all sizes.  Here are some examples:

Keep reading to learn about specific crowd-solving examples.

CHALLENGES FROM 1714 TO NOW

1.  THE FIRST “BIG” OCEAN CHALLENGE:  1714 LONGITUDE ACT

Toward the end of the 17th century, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Britain were all unable to accurately determine a ship’s longitude at sea.  Each country offered vast prizes to stimulate innovation on the era’s crucial problem. 

 

Britain ultimately solved the problem as a result of a formal challenge-based innovation process put into place via the Longitude Act of 1714.  This act of Parliament clearly defined the objective, established intermediate milestones, specified prize money and created a judging capability, called the Board of Longitude. 

 

The Longitude Act offered a series of rewards, rather than a single prize.  The rewards increased in alignment with the accuracy achieved.  The Grand Prize exceeded US $1 million (in 2019 dollars). 

 

The initial Act was so successful that the same process was used for 114 years to solve a large number of other seafaring-related challenges.   For more details: click here.   

 

2.  2019 XPRIZE FOR AUTONOMOUS OCEAN EXPLORATION

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE for Advancements in Autonomous Ocean Exploration offered teams a grand prize of US $4 million to invent a way to map the entire global ocean floor in only 10 years, thereby improving on current technology that will require over 100 years to complete the task.  

 

This challenge took 3-1/2 years from launch to completion with a number of intermediate milestones and checkpoints.  Beyond the competing teams, it involved many judges and advisors to evaluate the different approaches and determine if any of the teams had developed a winning solution that qualified them for the prize money.  The Grand Prize was awarded on 31 May 2019.

 

“The incentive prize contest has existed for centuries. From the inception of the Longitude prize in 1714, through the Orteig prize that compelled Charles Lindbergh to fly across the Atlantic, prizes have ignited passions and brought about breakthroughs that no one thought possible.” (source)

3.  2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHALLENGE TO REDUCE OCEAN PLASTIC

The National Geographic Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge is soliciting solutions on three tracks:  Design, Circular Economy and Data Visualization. For more details: click here

 

"A great idea can change everything!"

 

The goal is to develop novel solutions to tackle the world’s plastic waste crisis.Teams compete for aggregate prize purses of up to US $500,000, and qualified teams may have the opportunity to receive a minimum of US $1 million in equity investment.

 

This challenge is to take 10 months.  It began on 11 February 2019.  It is scheduled to announce winners on 9 December 2019.  It has 23 judges participating.

CHALLENGES FROM OUR PARTNER, INNOCENTIVE

Challenges are an excellent tool to quickly and cost-effectively eliminate project roadblocks and dramatically accelerate forward progress.  The examples below from our strategic partner, InnoCentive, demonstrate categories of possible benefit from crowd-solving.  They could easily be from the sea freight industry with only minor changes.

EXAMPLE 1

Strategic Objective: Accelerate R&D process

Problem Domain: Asset tracking

Seeker: Tech Company

Award: US $25,000

 

Overview:  Precyse Technologies needed longer battery life and greater transmission range for its asset tracking devices.  Their internal R&D efforts were moving too slowly and were likely to be too expensive to get to market.  They used crowd-solving to triple the range of their devices while concurrently extending battery life to well beyond 5 years.   

 

For more details:  click here.

EXAMPLE 2

Strategic Objective: Leverage solutions from other industries

Problem Domain: Ocean-spill cleanup

Seeker: Oil Spill Recovery Institute (OSRI/Exxon)

Award: US $20,000

 

Overview:  OSRI needed a way to clean up over 120,000 liters of oil from the Exxon Valdez spill.  A separation technique from the construction industry was applied to separate frozen oil from frozen water.  The crowd-solving process re-imagined an existing solution so it could solve a long-standing problem in an unrelated industry. 

  

For more details:  click here.

EXAMPLE 3

Strategic Objective: Better/safer operations

Problem Domain: Improving a predictive algorithm

Seeker: NASA

Award: US $30,000

 

Overview:  NASA used a challenge to achieve a dramatic improvement in their ability to predict solar flares.  The crowd-solving process generated a re-thinking of the problem that delivered a solution from the cell-phone industry.   

  

For more details:  click here.

 
 
 

CHALLENGES - ANNUAL

Another ocean-related model for using challenges to generate innovation is employed by oceanexchange.org, in Florida, USA.  They are “a 501c3 with the sole mission to help advance the adoption of solutions in the field of sustainability.”

 

They organize and host annual contests including the WW Orcelle Award, sponsored by Wallenius Wihelmsen.  Since 2013, this annual contest awards US$100,000 to “the solution that can make logistic operations more sustainable by advancing high-efficiency or zero-emission technologies that are commercially viable.” 

 

To see winners click here.

Need more details? Contact us.

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