In essence what Innocentive does is it provides a platform where you can post a really challenging problem and offer a reward to anybody who can come and provide a solution.  And it’s been remarkably effective.  People get very challenging problems and get solutions to those problems.  And one of the interesting things that comes out if you look at the research that’s been done on where are these answers coming from.  

It turns out that the significant majority of the answers that are posted and get rewards on Innocentive’s platform do not come from within the discipline that the problem was posted.  So if it was a problem in chemistry you’re more than likely not to get the answer from another chemist.  You’re likely to get the answer from somebody in a completely different discipline who’s just coming at this with a very different angle.

So it’s that unexpected encounter.  You wouldn’t even know to go outside the discipline or where to go outside the discipline to find the answer yet Innocentive creates that opportunity where posting the problem attracts all kinds of innovative ideas and ultimately a solution to the problem. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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