Press Releases

From Essential Molecules to Healthy Cities, NineSigma Unites Innovation Seekers and Providers

Dec 15, 2016 | Cleveland, OH and Houston, TX
Prize-based innovation challenges create real opportunities for innovators globally

From utilizing essential small molecules for societal and environmental challenges to improving population health through collaborative efforts between communities and private business, the world is seeking positive change that occurs when people and organizations work together. Today, innovation company NineSigma announced that it has helped fuel the movement towards increased collaboration between solution seekers and solution providers regardless of geographic location, technical discipline and industry.

Tweet this: #Innovators globally: Connect & collaborate to tackle the world’s toughest technology challenges! #OpenInnovation

NineSigma managed nearly 20 prize-based innovation competitions in 2016, with 36 winners announced and many more to be announced in 2017. This year successful solution providers have won cash awards of more than $800,000, with additional R&D funds set aside for future phases. Winners have also received scholarships, internships, and other opportunities to collaborate with the sponsoring organization to further develop their solutions.

Some highlights from this year’s prize-based innovation challenges:

・Nine winning teams were selected in the GE Healthy Cities Leadership Challenge which sought proposals that leveraged the strength of businesses and public entities in the participating team’s community to more effectively develop and implement community health initiatives. Winning teams were given a monetary prize as well as the opportunity to participate in a year-long learning collaborative that includes training, mentorship, and other opportunities that incubate and scale their ideas.

・The Air Liquide Essential Molecules Challenge asked scientists around the world to identify new solutions for high value molecules such as O2, N2, H2, and CO2. One winner was selected for each of three sub-topic areas and given a scientific award with the potential to receive additional R&D funds.

・In the Lighting without a Bulb Contest, Corning and their partner OLEDWorks addressed the relatively new technology of Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) and sought creative designs that integrated this technology into lighting devices, fixtures, furniture, and luminaires. Three winners were awarded prizes for their unique and functional designs which pushed the boundaries of OLED lighting applications.

・Statoil ran its Inspection Contest that addressed the safe inspection of insulated pressure vessels in the production of oil. Three proposals were selected because they addressed the primary business need of inspecting vessels without removing the insulation and stopping production. The winners received cash prizes and the opportunity for further collaboration and technology development with Statoil.

Winners from these and other challenges come from start-ups and small businesses, research institutes, universities and nonprofits. Established research organizations such as Fraunhofer in Germany, as well as students from Manipal University in India, University of Wisconsin in the US, and Izmir Institute of Technology in Kazakhstan are all among those who have come out on top. Design firms, robotics companies, metal casting specialists, chambers of commerce, and many other entities have also ranked as winners this year.

“A successful prize-based innovation challenge rallies competitors around a clearly defined problem and gives them enough guidance on what a winning solution could look like while allowing plenty of room for fresh thinking and creativity. It is immensely rewarding to see so many talented individuals from every region of the world rise to the occasion and help advance innovations that impact communities, industries and society as a whole,” said NineSigma CEO Dr. Andy Zynga.

NineSigma tracked the monetary prizes from challenges over the past five years and compiled the information into this infographic. Check out the global map to see which regions have seen the greatest impact from funds awarded through recent prize-based innovation challenges.

About NineSigma
NineSigma connects organizations with external innovation resources to accelerate innovation in private, public and social sectors. NineSigma has the largest open global network of solution providers and an extensive database of existing solutions spanning numerous industries and technical disciplines. Learn more at or

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