Digital Education team blog
  • We support Staff and Students using technology to enhance education at UCL.

    Here you'll find updates on institutional developments, projects we're involved in, updates on educational technology, events, case studies and personal experiences (or views!).

    Subscribe to our elearning newsletters.

  • Subscribe to this blog

  • Meta

  • Tags

  • Creative Commons Licence

  • A A A

    R&D by asking the world !

    By Rod Digges, on 21 January 2010


    If you’re very pressed for time and interested in how this posting might
    help you in your teaching you can go straight to the end of this
    article, if you have a minute to spare, read on….

    The internet continues to provide interesting new models of working and
    although not new (8 years old in fact) the Innocentive web presence has
    now established itself firmly in the arena of collaborative R&D.

    Being relatively new to UCL but knowing the wealth of talent that exists
    here, I had assumed that many people would have heard of innocentive,
    but conversations with colleagues and academics, so far at least, have
    proved this assumption to be wrong. So in light of the above I thought
    it might be worth circulating some information about the site in the
    hope that others may find it interesting or useful.

    I won’t go into too much detail here about innocentive as
    simply following the above URL will allow anyone interested to explore
    the site and the collaborative models it provides in depth.
    In a nutshell, the innocentive website provides a space where
    companies/institutions faced with particular R&D problems can
    ‘challenge’ a community of ‘seekers’ to provide innovative solutions –
    I’m sure this has been done elsewhere, but innocentive have done it
    particularly well – their recently announced partnership with the
    publishers of Nature in the US gives an indication of how well the site is regarded.

    In addition to Innocentive’s commercial partnerships an agreement with
    the Rockefeller foundation in 2006 has lead to Innocentive providing a space for
    non-profit ‘seekers’ particularly aimed at providing technology solutions
    to pressing problems in the third world – so it’s an interesting mix of
    for profit and altruistic challenges.

    The innocentive model gives much ‘food for thought’ in areas such
    (global) knowledge transfer, IP, research & collaboration and the
    effectiveness of ‘crowdsourcing’ (apparently 50% of solutions come from
    people who’s domain of expertise lie outside that of the ‘perceived’
    problem domain.

    Whatever you may think of the innocentive model – brilliant idea or R&D
    on cheap – it does provide those who want to integrate problem based
    learning into their course materials with a set of ready-made real
    world problems and for this reason alone its worth taking a

    With students finding it harder prove themselves and find places after graduating
    wouldn’t a UK or European innocentive be one place where students might prove themselves before graduating?

    The question in my mind is – Why haven’t we got something as open and innovative as this in Europe or the UK? – maybe we have and I just need a pointer….anybody?