Mapping the Benefits from Innovation Contests
An innovation contest is an effective way to address an organization’s technical needs. With its pay-for-success and winner(s)-take-all format, organizations have received novel and high-quality solutions to their problems at lower costs than solving them internally. These successes have driven researchers to focus on strategies that further enhance the resulting solutions. This narrow focus, however, might ignore benefits that are also important to these organizations. Our work leverages an in-depth case study of NASA’s highly successful 3D Printed Habitat Challenge; we analyzed how it benefited the relevant NASA subject matter experts. Our resulting framework characterizes the range, and sources, of potential benefits across different stages of an innovation contest, some of which we found to be more valuable than the solutions. These findings emphasize the need to broaden the existing focus on solutions and highlight new opportunities for practitioners to address their needs through innovation contests.