How to Boost Your Business with Crowdsourced Innovation

Explore how crowdsourced innovation helps you gather & identify new ideas from a wide range of sources to create new business opportunities!

The world of innovation is changing faster than ever. Today’s businesses need to be agile and adaptable to thrive in this dynamic environment. Solutions that once worked for creating new products, services, or technologies no longer suffice. Companies have started turning to the crowd for new ideas, products, and services on a continuous basis instead of only during brief brainstorming sessions or jolts of inspiration. This is what we call crowdsourced innovation.

Let’s quickly dive into the basics of crowdsourced innovation and how you can make it work in your favor with minimum effort!

Why do You Need Crowdsourced Innovation?

We will, of course, share our tips on how to effectively crowdsource innovation. But, before that, let’s understand the WHY of crowdsourced innovation — what are its benefits?

Test Diverse Ideas at Once

Two heads are better than one. And, when you are crowdsourcing innovation, you get to work with multiple heads! As a result, you can collect a number of diverse ideas or solutions at once, that too, within a very short span. This is especially useful for time-sensitive projects. That is why, big organizations, such as NASA hosts innovation challenges like the Space Robotics Challenge, to accelerate their innovation process.

Brand Promotion

When you launch your innovation challenges, it automatically strengthens your image as an innovator. Your target audience as well as the industry as a whole gets to know that you deeply care about innovation. People show their support for companies that provide small players in the market a chance to make a difference with their innovative ideas or products. This only works in your favor and helps you gain a lot of publicity.

New Business Opportunities

For this point, instead of us speaking in favor of crowdsourced innovation, let’s provide you with some data. Hitachi conducted a survey to explore the extent to which co-creation is being adopted by companies across industry sectors and the benefits of a more collaborative approach to innovation. 61% of the participants said that co-creation has created new commercial opportunities for their companies.

Read this next: Types of Open Innovation Challenges

5 Top Companies that Leverage Crowdsourced Innovation

1. General Electric (GE)

Back in 2010, GE, in collaboration with Emerald Technology Ventures, Rockport Capital, Foundation Capital, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, launched the GE Ecomagination Challenge, offering a prize money of USD 200 million. The aim of the challenge was to find innovative ideas for improving America’s smart grid technology. GE received almost 4,000 ideas from 1,600 companies across 150 countries.

The winning ideas included an inflatable wind turbine, a self-power-generating water meter, and a de-icing wind turbine that never slows down, among others.

2. Google

Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) announced the Little Box Challenge in 2014. The prize money for the challenge was USD 1 million. It involved building a smaller version of the existing power inverter to make the device fit into home appliances. A Belgian electrical company, CE+T Power’s Red Electrical Devils won the competition.

3. Intel Corporation

Intel Corporation took a leap of faith and launched a global innovation challenge back in 2008 when crowdsourced innovation was not so popular. Through this competition, Intel aimed to improve the global need for education, the environment, healthcare, and economic development. The prize money was USD 100,000 for winners in each of the four categories.

More than 200 individuals, non-profit organizations, NGOs, universities, and companies spread over 44 countries submitted their ideas. Here are a couple of winning ideas:

  • Mobile Solar Computer Classroom: solar-powered computers for schools in under-developed countries where access to IT is limited.
  • CellScope: a telemicroscopy application capable of converting cellphone cameras into a microscope for monitoring diseases like malaria.

4. BMW

Since the 2000s, BMW, in collaboration with HYVE Innovation Community has sponsored quite a few innovation challenges. For its 2013 contest, BMW sought new ideas for improving the luggage compartments of BMW cars. BMW received nearly 750 ideas within a month!

The three winners gained prize money of EUR 5,000, EUR 2,500, and EUR 1,000. Moreover, BMW invited them to its workshop in Munich to give them a chance to witness their ideas being implemented in real-world applications.

5. Nestlé

Did you know Nestlé’s Milkybar is actually a crowdsourced idea? Nestlé wanted a snack that would strengthen the mother-children bond. It aimed for something that contained natural ingredients to ensure mothers that they were giving a healthy treat to their kids. And that is how Milkybar was born. The winner gained prize money of USD 5,000. If you are interested, check out the Nestlé Innovation Accelerator Program.

Read more about this: How 5 Leading Companies Successfully Implement Corporate Open Innovation

Boost Your Innovation Objectives with StartUs Insights

Till now, we have talked about the benefits of crowdsourced innovation and how a lot of big companies use it to build new products. But, as attractive as it may sound, planning and managing innovation challenges is no child’s play. It requires a lot of work, including but not limited to the following:

  • Designing the challenge
  • Releasing and promoting the challenge
  • Keeping track of the application process
  • Answering the queries of the participants
  • Screening the applications

Don’t forget to read: Benefits of Virtual Startup Programs

But, don’t worry, we are here to make your lives easier! Let’s explore how.


We, at StartUs Insights, manage & promote your innovation program in two ways:

  • Direct Outreach — Using the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, our expert analysts shortlist more than 2 000 relevant startups catering to your criteria from a huge database of 2 093 000+ companies and directly reach out to them with your offer and convince them to apply.
  • Promotional Activities — Our marketing ninjas produce informative SEO-driven articles promoting the program to be published in our blog and super-engaging social media copies that are posted across our social media channels.

Our data-driven promotion, direct outreach, and storytelling reach hundreds of thousands of startups and scaleups, making sure you attract the most relevant ones. This is why 500+ companies trust us with their startup programs!

Apart from the core services mentioned above, we also offer:

  • Setup of Conversion-Optimized Landing Page: Don’t have the time or bandwidth to create the web page for your program? Taking maximum advantage of our experience with SEO-optimized content, we set up the landing page of your startup program to attract more applicants.
  • Applicant Pre-screening: Received more applicants than you can handle (because we did an amazing job, *insert wink*)? We got you! Our in-house trained analysts will analyze startup data to pre-screen the applicants with the best potential.

Why Should You Partner with StartUs Insights?

  • Receive High-Quality Applications — Your message needs to travel to thousands so that you have plenty of options to choose the best startups from. Our conversion channels reach hundreds of thousands to make sure the most relevant ones convert to your program.
  • Optimize the Program Effort — We offer you our experience and knowledge gathered while transforming the largest European startup and innovation community into a global network. This results in a lean and conversion-optimized setup for your startup program.
  • Build Long-Term Awareness — We understand that with every program cohort, it becomes more and more challenging to reach relevant startups. We make sure to increase the value of our network and reach every day so that you can benefit from it in the long term.

So, for your next Open Innovation Challenge, work with us to discover the best startups and scaleups to collaborate with.

Read this next: Accelerate Open Innovation with Data-driven Startup Programs

Things to Keep in Mind while Crowdsourcing Innovation

While we can help you with managing, promoting, as well as setting up your innovation challenges, there are certain things that you should consider during the planning stage:

  • Set clear guidelines — before releasing your challenge, make sure your agenda or problem statement, eligibility criteria, and the process of application are clearly conveyed. This will avoid confusion among the participants and help you receive more relevant applications.
  • Offer attractive rewards — it is true that if you are a big company, startups and scaleups will always be very eager to work with you. But, when you offer good rewards, the eagerness increases manifold. Moreover, providing the winners/participants with their well-deserved rewards will only establish your goodwill in the industry.
  • Don’t be too conservative — it is important to look for specific solutions as most probably you will be hosting a challenge with an aim. However, don’t let that kill the possibility of finding an amazing idea by narrowing your scope way too much.
  • Give participants enough recognition — you will receive tons of applications, of course, not everyone will win. But, that doesn’t mean you will completely ignore the participants that didn’t make it. Take the effort to engage with them, appreciate them for showing their interest, and give them feedback on their ideas, if possible.

Also read: 5 Top Lessons from Iberdrola’s Open Innovation Challenges

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