Innovation 4.0: Next-Generation Competitions Raise the Bar for 21st Century R&D

New Era of Openness Accelerates Business-Building Breakthroughs, Says NineSigma

Apr 22, 2015, 13:17 ET from NineSigma

CLEVELAND, April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- NineSigma the leading innovation partner to companies worldwide, today issued a call for organizations to build more transparency into their innovation programs. The company is seeing organizations benefit from a new kind of prize-based competition, which builds transparency into every layer. These Innovation Contests have transformed the R&D landscape, and are leading to a new paradigm that NineSigma is calling Innovation 4.0.

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"We have seen a tipping point in the way leading organizations innovate," says Denys Resnick, Executive Vice President, NineSigma. "Innovation contests deliver a transparent and clearly defined process with specific criteria for winning solutions, a concrete timeline and a level playing field, ensuring the ultimate innovation meritocracy."

Innovation 4.0 builds on the strategy of Open Innovation (OI), which NineSigma helped pioneer. Through OI, organizations reach outside their four walls or their industries for IP, solutions or technology to accelerate breakthroughs.

Innovation contests are game-changers, taking OI to the next level by building greater trust and collaboration between both solution seekers and providers. Everyone has access to everyone – the playing field is leveled and the best of the best rise to the top. The concrete timeline in the public eye, and overall publicity surrounding innovation contests also put positive pressure on solution seekers, which increases the likelihood that their innovations will be brought to market.

Companies like GE and KLM are using these next-generation contests to build innovation ecosystems, find new capabilities and advance the functionality of their products. From GE's work to innovate new designs for water filtration components or 3D printing technologies to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Schiphol Amsterdam Airport's work to create new technologies to fully automate baggage handling, the innovation contest provides a short-term, repeatable process for staying ahead of competitors. The duration of these contests is typically three months, and they can result in actionable solutions.

Solution providers like Tom Goddu, founder of Blazing Pencils are prepared and eager to apply expertise to innovation contests wherever they await. Mr. Goddu has many years of experience as a senior industrial designer at a major consulting firm.

He is a finalist in a current innovation contest underway for KLM, and recently won two contests, sponsored by GE, on the NineSights community. One was the "Novel Central Tube Connections Challenge" with GE Water & Power, and the other was GE's Industrial Solutions Challenge, "Ergonomic Switch Design", where GE sought designs for an attractive and ergonomic rotary handle. As a result of that open innovation challenge, GE has indicated it will introduce the state-of-the-art circuit breaker platform in half the time of its previous product launches.

"Before discovering NineSights, I hadn't participated in design competitions. But, in the case of the GE Industrial Solution Challenge, I was urged to participate by a fellow mentor of mine, and there were five healthy prizes plus the possibility of further work with GE, so I decided to go for it. I'm glad I did," says Tom Goddu, Founder, Blazing Pencils Industrial Design.

To help companies get ready for Innovation 4.0, NineSigma has developed a white paper on Innovation Contests, available for download at

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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SOURCE NineSigma