Lauren Abendschein

Rockefeller and InnoCentive Partner to Bring Scientists to the BOP

RockefellerThe Rockefeller Foundation is partnering with InnoCentive to offer an innovative way of solving the science and technology challenges faced by the world’s poorest citizens.

InnoCentiveInnoCentive is a privately-held company that provides a web-based service to Fortune 500 companies to tap into a global community of scientists for solving R&D problems. From the ?seeker,? InnoCentive collects an annual service fee for the use of its platform and also for posted questions. In addition, InnoCentive receives a commission on awards made by the ?seeker? to the ?problem solver.? So, for a relatively modest fee and comparatively minor effort (to formulate the R&D question and vet solutions), ?seekers? significantly increase their research capacity.The Rockefeller Foundation-InnoCentive partnership brings the benefits of this model to those working on science and technology problems faced by poor or vulnerable people. Organizations describe their technology problem through the Foundation’s online questionnaire and, if accepted, have their service fees and eventually their reward offering covered by the Foundation. Accountability is built in as the ?seekers? have to pay half of the reward themselves and are only reimbursed after the innovation is implemented.

The partnership is an excellent way to take advantage of InnoCentive’s network of more than 100,000 registered ?solvers?–scientists representing a wide variety of disciplines–from 175 countries.This is a unique opportunity for organizations that have found effective dissemination techniques to increase and enhance the array of product offerings to their target groups. Further, it could strongly benefit social entrepreneurs that are tapped into the needs of their community but lack the scientific expertise to fully develop their ideas. It will be interesting to see how extensive the implementation has to be for Rockefeller to agree to reimburse for the second half of the reward. If organizations are forced to find a way to make a profit from the technology they are more likely to find innovative dissemination techniques and implement widely. Hopefully Rockefeller will at least be demanding about extensive implementation, if not sustainability as well.