Proudly Found Elsewhere: Models for Innovation at NASA
Doug Comstock, Director of Partnerships, Innovation and Commercial Space, NASA HQ
As NASA pushes the frontiers in air and space, there are many sources of innovation that can be applied to our challenges. Leveraging these sources of innovation can increase the efficiency of NASA’s pursuits, focusing limited resources on problems for which there is no current solution and increasing the pace by which we expand the frontier. Individuals, companies, universities, partners, and industries may all be the sources of needed solutions and great innovations but how do we find them? NASA has been using several tools and methods to do just this -- identify innovations that can be proudly found elsewhere. Examples include Centennial Challenges, NASA’s incentive prize competitions for the citizen inventor which have yielded innovations from astronaut gloves to power beaming and lunar landers. Another example is the NASA Pavilion using the innocentive.com platform, which attracted more than a thousand solvers from around the world for challenges from data-driven forecasting of solar events to coordination of sensor swarms for extraterrestrial research. NASA is building on these models and pursuing new models for innovation as well, in an effort to strengthen the culture of innovation in NASA, increase the breadth of innovation sources, and accelerate the pace of exploration and discovery.