What is an innovation challenge?

Solving internal challenges or adressing changing markets with open innovation and external stakeholders, e.g. startups.

Through an Innovation Challenge, companies want to solve a specific problem or innovation need with ideas from outside. The organizers, also known as "challenge owners", can be companies, NGOs, research institutes, universities or government organizations. The topics for Innovation Challenges are almost unlimited, but are often chosen by companies with a close affinity to their industry.

What are Innovation Challenges?

Innovation Challenges are published innovation needs that help companies find relevant ideas, technologies, and innovative approaches to solving specific problems in a kind of competition outside their own organization. 

Innovation Challenges, also called "Corporate Challenges" or "Innovation Contests", are a powerful method to generate innovative ideas and new solution approaches in cooperation with other companies. Participants are asked to generate ideas for developing or improving products, services, processes or customer experiences. The organizers will stay in contact with the participants of the challenge through regular updates, needed input and feedback. The innovators with the best-fit solutions will be selected at the end to participate in the co-development, testing and launch of their ideas.

What is the difference between a Startup Challenge and an Innovation Challenge?

Innovation Challenges are open to suppliers, startups, partners, customers and the general public. In Startup Challenges, on the other hand, the group of participants is usually limited to young companies that must not be older than ten years. You can also use our form to enter your current Innovation Challenges in order to create more visibility and receive exciting applications. In addition, some Innovation Challenges are also organized internally, where only employees submit ideas in order to promote the innovation culture in their own company. Through Innovation Challenges, organizers can get innovative solutions from inside and outside their company.

What are the benefits of Innovation Challenges?

As technology advances, competition increases and consumer behavior changes, companies need to find innovative strategies to gain a competitive advantage. Innovation Challenges can help drive digital transformation within the organization, execute large-scale marketing and communications campaigns, build partnerships with innovative companies, discover new talent, and foster collaborative, creative ways of working within your own organization.

"Open innovation is not about outsourcing R&D to somebody else. It's really about leveraging and enhancing your internal capabilities."

- Henry Chesbrough 

What should companies look for when hosting an Innovation Challenge?

The design of an Innovation Challenge varies depending on the needs and problems of the organizing companies. However, the following applies to all challenges: an exciting, well-defined problem encourages relevant participants to submit their solutions and apply. The application and selection criteria should be carefully chosen by the organizers in order to find the best fitting solutions. There are Innovation Challenges on a regional level, on a state level, as well as on a global level. The larger the tender area, the larger the circle of potential applicants. However, the administrative effort increases with the size and the risk of language barriers and cultural differences increases. An Innovation Challenge can certainly be worthwhile for companies in order to strengthen their innovation ecosystem, get to know relevant partners, and identify tailored solutions and technologies for existing challenges.

You still have questions?

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