How to Host a Successful Hackathon

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 2:39 PM, May 04, 2015


All forward-thinking companies are focused on innovation – but successful innovation isn’t something that just happens. It’s pursued, intentionally, with great focus, by the right people making the right decisions based on any number of variables along the way.

Those “right people” include both internal and external stakeholders whose subject matter expertise and creative vision allows them to harness the brainpower of everyone else around them – keeping lines of communication open so all can participate, while wrangling idea management for maximum efficiency.

If an overall culture of innovation isn’t something your company has been focused on in the past, one of the best ways to debut your innovation program and get others quickly on board is by hosting a hackathon – a marathon brainstorming event where teams of participants work together to solve company challenges.

But it’s not something you can just throw together. There are a lot of moving parts to deal with – especially if this is your first hackathon. To make it easier Brightidea has compiled a list to make your hackathon a success.

The Planning Stages

Brightidea has found that a minimum of 30 days is needed to get your hackathon planned successfully. First, the basics:

  • Goal – Before you can do anything, you need to know what you hope to accomplish with your hackathon. It should be in line with the company’s overall goals.
  • Time - Choose a date that doesn’t conflict with other company events, so anyone who wants to be involved can be. Saturdays are best for single-day hackathons, and Fridays are ideal for overnight events.
  • Location - An outside venue makes the event feel special (crucial to lighting those creative fires), versus just another day at the office. Look for included WiFi, audio and video equipment -- plus set-up and test before your event.
  • Budget – Sponsors are always a cost-saving solution. Approach whomever could benefit from whatever you’re hacking, from in-house departments to outside sources with a vested interest in your project.
  • Decide if Your Hackathon is Internal or External – Internal hackathons (those open to employees only) are more common and easier to manage for first-timers. However, these guidelines apply to both, except where otherwise specified. If you decide to include external communities, Brightidea has partnered with IdeaConnection and can help you get access to an external community quickly.

Once you have the basics nailed down, you can start getting into the real fun:

Specialists - When hosting an internal hackathon, consider bringing in “specialists” – outside parties with knowledge in your space – to offer a fresh point of view to motivate participants in the role of speakers, team mentors or judges. Enlist the aid of your HR department or leverage C-level connections to find them. Be sure to have outside specialists sign a nondisclosure agreement to protect your innovations.

Promotion – You want everyone excited to attend and participate in your hackathon, and it’s even better if you can get them to start participating BEFORE the event. Here’s how:

  • Webstorm– Part of the Brightidea Innovation platform, a Webstorm is a place for people to submit their project ideas and sign up for teams; it also functions as an event homepage, with all hackathon details easily accessible. With an external hackathon you can include the Webstorm link on your Eventbrite page.
  • Social Media – With an external hackathon you’ll also want to use social media to spread the word (an area-specific “Subreddit” on Reddit, for example), along with reaching out to local developer groups for additional networking help.

Tech Concerns – If your hackathon is centered around coding, connect with someone internally who can ensure that languages and frameworks will be compatible with those your company is using, for easy inclusion down the road. Tip: is a great central location for hackers to commit code.

Judging – Only the best ideas should move through to implementation, so you want to have a plan in place for how ideas will be assessed and share it with participants. Appoint three to five judges – and a few standbys – to be available at least 30 minutes prior to judging on the day of the hackathon.

Prizes – Talk these up to the top teams to get everyone in the competitive spirit. Whether you’re giving away gadgets (like iPads), cash, or the opportunity to run the next phase of the winning challenge, you want participants to be hungry to win.

Thank-you Cards – Write out thank-you cards in advance to hand to your judges, specialists, and any other special guests as they leave. Kudos and prestige may be all they’re getting for their participation, so you definitely don’t want to forget to give them their due!

Following Up

Because you can never say thank you too much, send out an email to everyone who participated and thank them again for their attendance.

Hold a postmortem to assess whether you achieved your goals and what needs to happen next. Make note of anything that went particularly well, anything that didn’t, and figure out what you’ll do differently next time. Then start planning your next hackathon!

Brightidea recommends semiannual hackathons for a healthy innovation culture employees can stay engaged with. Each time it will be easier, more productive and your ROI will be more impactful.

When you’re ready to put it all together, our hackathon platform and revolutionary hackathon app can streamline your hackathon. Contact us and we can share the best way to get started for you and your company.

Providing Clients with Expert Innovation Communities

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 2:48 PM, April 28, 2015


Brightidea and IdeaConnection have a new partnership that offers open innovation services and a way for companies to build their own branded, expert, open innovation communities.

In the press release Brightidea CEO, Matt Greeley shares, “IdeaConnection has an outstanding record of building innovative communities and solving complex challenges. Now we can offer Open Innovation community building as a white-label service for those who would rather build their own proprietary innovation community under their own brands.”

This partnership complements many clients’ innovation initiatives. It also brings us all one step closer to realizing the future of ideas as expressed in Brightidea’s the Innovation Grid.

IdeaConnection’s extensive network-of-networks goes well beyond Google search and offers clients access to vast external expert communities, emerging technologies, the world’s great minds and valuable technical and intellectual property expertise. Combining that with Brightidea’s suite of products that facilitate the gathering and development of people-powered ideas creates a one-stop solution the enterprise has been searching for.

The future is even brighter.

Learn more about IdeaConnection and our partnership here.

Idea Management: 5 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Steve Bell at 11:06 AM, April 20, 2015


Having worked with some of the world’s most innovative companies over the past 15 years, Brightidea has seen where idea management can come up short.

The ability to crowdsource ideas from your employees, customers, and others can be a powerful tool to stimulate innovation – if done right. But too often, companies fail to achieve the promise of collaborative innovation. To help you beat those odds, here are 5 common mistakes that typically plague idea management processes – and how you can avoid them:

1. Going It Alone
One of the biggest mistakes occurs when an innovation team kicks off their program without the appropriate buy-in and sponsorship. This typically dooms your program to failure from the outset. Why? Because without top-down executive endorsement that ties the program to corporate objectives and a strong voice within the business excited to take action on the best ideas, the program will quickly lose momentum and only deliver a database of aging ideas. Employees won’t value it as part of their day job and participation will be poor.

Remedy: You need both strong executive sponsorship and strong business unit sponsorship to build and maintain excitement around the innovation program, the targeted innovation topics and the idea management process. This will set the program up for success from the beginning and ensure ongoing, inspired employee participation.

2. Focusing on the Front End
Many companies start off their collaborative innovation program thinking only about the “idea gathering” phase of idea management, and fail to consider the complete “end-to-end” process. They make a big marketing push to get their employees to submit ideas, which they do, and end up with a pile of ideas and no way to evaluate them – and worse yet, no one to take action on the ideas. As a result, the employees aren’t given any feedback on their ideas and lose interest.

Remedy: Treat idea management as an end-to-end process. Initial engagement isn’t everything, and if it’s your entire focus, your program will fail. You need a systematic process for guiding effort on targeted topics, vetting ideas and selecting the best ones for implementation to achieve a financial return. Without implementation, there is no innovation.

3. Using General Purpose Platforms
Companies often attempt to “shoehorn” a general-purpose technology like SharePoint into an idea management solution. We know this because we’re commonly asked to replace these systems. Companies choose this ill-advised route for many reasons: Perhaps the IT department mandates it or maybe it’s a cost-effective way to start since IT already has invested in it. But it is inevitably a bad decision, because these tools aren’t designed to facilitate an idea management process. They work as “idea gathering portals,” but lack capabilities to move ideas through an evaluation and shortlisting process. So, much like focusing on the engagement part of the process mentioned above, you end up with a pile of ideas that disappear into a black hole never to be seen again. And companies often neglect to consider the internal cost of IT resources involved to stand up and operate a general-purpose platform.

Remedy: Don’t use general-purpose tools for something as specialized and important as idea management. You need a purpose-built innovation platform, like Brightidea. Just as you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) use SharePoint as your CRM to manage sales or a homegrown system to manage your financials, using general-purpose tools to manage something as mission-critical to your company as innovation does little beyond waste your time.

4. Being Blinded by Science
Some companies would have you believe that their ‘marvelous discoveries’ in crowd science and algorithms practically make people obsolete in terms of idea management. While they keep data scientists gainfully employed, the practical reality is that after many years of pitching their theories, there is no practical evidence that this science offers any tangible benefit to the idea management process.

Remedy: Don’t believe the hype. Nothing replaces the insight and expertise of your people to make idea management decisions. Focus on technology that supports this people-driven process – tools that effectively engage key stakeholders in key activities across the entire process, from your innovation team, your employee innovators, as well as subject matter experts, and business sponsors.

The premise of Brightidea’s “People-Powered Methodology” is that Man + Machine is more powerful than technology or people alone. Our software and approach are designed to help companies take advantage of the full creative capacity of their people through crowd-driven technology and data-driven insight to create a scalable core-competency and drive cultural transformation.

5. Not Measuring Results
Innovation teams have limited time to demonstrate tangible results from their program. Innovation teams lacking tangible data and visible evidence of implemented ideas to demonstrate program value/results run the risk of losing funding and having their innovation program shut down.

Remedy: Tracking and measuring tangible outcomes is the most important aspect of the idea management process. Success is just a story until there is hard data to back it up. At Brightidea we measure multiple types of success to ensure a holistic view. We make your results data readily accessible via numerous metrics, so investment in your Innovation Program is easy for management to justify.

Effective idea management is key to getting collaborative innovation right. Without a system in place, you’ll fail. Not all systems are created equal though – be SURE to select one that helps harness the people-powered ideas in your organization and manage them through to implemented projects with tangible financial outcomes. Reach out and we’ll tell you more about why this is critical and how fast you can have your own system in place!

Please share your comments below and check out Brightidea’s paper Taking Ideas to Reality: Defining the Next Steps in Your Innovation Program.

Innovation, the New Competitive Equation

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 12:39 PM, April 10, 2015


Brightidea partnered with BPI in creating a highly informative innovation study, Innovation - The New Competitive Equation, which examines innovation strategies and roadblocks in today’s society. The study is full of statistical analysis, case studies, and best practices from top innovation executives. Brightidea’s powerful customers Dell, Nielson, and Cisco were highlighted in the study as well, with strong statistics proving their thriving innovation programs using Brightidea.

How could you better encourage innovation in your organization? This was one question in the study. Companies ponder this every day when attempting to ramp up a successful program. The results in the study reflected that companies are at varied stages of their innovation journey. In fact, 44% answered that they need to create a formalized process for evaluating and rewarding innovation up and down the organization. And 40% recommended to fast-track a structured program of “intrapreneurship” for top innovation talents on the team.

Crowdsourcing within innovation programs has become a popular tactic, expanding creativity outside of just one designated team of thinkers. In the study, to determine if this tactic is widely effective, customers were asked how do you rate the effectiveness of crowd-sourced innovation programs? See the results below. The use of innovation platforms is growing yet the ability to measure outcomes and success is a challenge.


Take a look at this study Innovation - The New Competitive Equation and review the current results for yourself, comparing them to your own innovative efforts. Brightidea provides the world’s leading innovation program software, please contact us if you’d like to accelerate your own program!

Please feel free to leave comments below.

How To Make Better Innovation Choices In Q2

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 3:22 PM, April 02, 2015


The first quarter of 2015 is over and you might be feeling a befuddled as your innovation efforts aren’t taking off as you’d planned. 

Fear not, this series of thought leadership articles will help you reframe the discussion at your organization. We’ve shared a few introductory posts to help organize your thinking, and then focus on specifics that will breathe new life into your efforts. The topics share the best articles (as voted by Brightidea in Q1 2015) on best practices and emerging trends from innovation leaders and Fortune 500 firms.

Keep a notebook (or a mobile device) handy as you read, and when you’re finished reading, be sure to reach out with your questions.


1. 5 Ways to get Ready for Innovation in 2015: If you aren’t ready for innovation, consider this post your orientation to what awaits. The steps listed will help you focus your efforts, channel all that creative energy and feel sure of yourself as you set off on your own innovation path!

2. IBM Institute for Business Value: More than Magic: How do the most successful organizations innovate? IBM surveyed more than 1,000 C-suite executives from across the world to gather specific practices and find out where they think innovation is headed. If this doesn’t get kick your planning process into overdrive, nothing will!

3. 5 Ways Managers Stifle Innovation: Many companies today are unknowingly stifling innovative thinking, and that needs to change - fast. Do any of these five behaviors listed sound familiar? If so, the tips at the end around unlocking innovation will be VERY helpful.

4. Chief Innovation Officers Need Friends in High Places: Even innovation leaders at high-power organizations like Hyatt Hotels, Nestle, Purina Petcare, and Merck & Co. face challenges when it comes to change management and creating a culture of innovation. This piece shares insight from expert innovation executives who have successfully overcome internal and external struggles at top corporations – and the importance of executive support.

5. The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Media: This list of innovative media outlets is one any publisher would be proud to be on, but only ten made the cut. These sites are very different from each other, but all foster interactive communication and are killing it online. Check out this who’s who and what they’ve done to inspire your own efforts going forward.

6. The Benefits of Open Innovation: The term “open innovation” was coined by Henry Chesbrough and “refers to the collaboration between companies, individuals and public agencies to create innovative products and services and, in the process, share its risks and rewards.” And this article shares real-life situations where this ideology has been put to the test and succeeded. Is ‘open innovation’ where our efforts are headed? Should it be, in the spirit of creating a better place to live?

7. How Smart Entrepreneurs Make Innovation Look Easy: Does being an expert innovator require a certain genetic makeup, or can anyone be an Elon Musk? This article shares concepts explored in a new book, “The 4 Lenses of Innovation,” by Rowan Gibson. Gibson shares traits of true innovators and ways to unlock yours via connecting powerful digital tools, a structured process, and some best innovation practices (shared in the piece).

8. 2015: The Year the Cloud Bursts: From smart homes and digital health to merely understanding what saving data ‘in the cloud’ means, 2015 is predicted to be a revolutionary year where advanced technology becomes more accessible to the average person - and indispensible for the rest of us. Where do you fall in this continuum?

9. Re-Framing Innovation in 2015 – How iteration really does transform fear of failure: Fear of failure is one of the biggest hurdles companies face when attempting to encourage innovation. Overcoming it requires a true commitment to risk-taking and acceptance when mistakes are made – and adopting an iteration mindset helps. Learn more about how that looks here.

10. The Five Most Disruptive Innovations at CES 2015: Disruptive innovation sounds scary, but offers the potential for some truly groundbreaking partnerships between unrelated companies – and nowhere is that more evident than at this year’s CES. Check out these trends and predictions for where these innovations are headed.

Please share your favorite articles below. And for more insights on innovation, check out our April Google hangouts with Innovation Leaders sharing their best practices.

If You Want To Unleash Innovation, You Need To Put Your Community to Work

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 9:05 AM, March 04, 2015

AragonlogoYour enterprise might be ready to innovate, but is it stuck in a perpetual “ready to innovate” loop? If so, it’s time to take action. And our recent webinar, with Jim Lundy, CEO and Lead Analyst of Aragon Research, offers lots of insight around how to move forward – and why.

Lots of organizations are ready to innovate, and can’t understand why they’re being disrupted by competitors – especially when they know they have a superior product or service. The reason why this happens is simple – and preventable: They were MORE ready to innovate than you. They approached innovation in an organized way and that allowed them to bring their ideas to market ahead of your team.

We had 68% of webinar attendees who said their management considers innovation as critical to the success of their business. This is a growing #. Jim shared Aragon Research’s 2015 Technology ARC diagram representing companies less than 5 years old. Innovation Management is a top priority. He commented that “companies need a pragmatic approach to help them get in front of the tidal wave of change” and “companies need to have tools to allow them to manage innovation”.

The webinar discusses how to beat your competition the next time around (or get out there first if they haven’t bested you yet!): outthink the competition and identify the next big thing by developing a community and corporate culture of innovation! But how can you do that, specifically? Well, we cover that in detail in the webinar, including:

  • How Innovation Management Programs and other technologies are giving enterprises an edge
  • Key innovation and mobile trends you need to be aware of
  • Examples of markets being disrupted and why digital businesses are projected to outperform others
  • Understanding the Internet of Things and why it matters to you
  • How to harness those great ideas inside your company and put them in action before your competitor does
  • Ways to nurture innovation in your company via multiple channels

You’ll also learn about two distinct innovation models – organic and the “fast follower” approach – and decide which one is right for you to help fast-forward your efforts so you get ahead of the changing tidal wave headed your way.

View the full webinar here – we welcome your comments!

2015 CFO Sentiment Study – Growing Importance of Innovation to CFO’s

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 5:04 PM, March 02, 2015


Each year the CFO Alliance conducts a CFO Sentiment Study, providing exclusive insight and measurable statistics that are critical to the strategic planning and financial outlook of CFO’s across the United States.

The best practices and statistics shared in this study will help companies identify challenges and ways to move forward and innovate in 2015.

The CFO Alliance is comprised of senior financial leaders and decision makers, spanning a wide range of industry groups, company sizes, and geographies. The survey data comes from more than 600 responses solicited from financial leaders in private industries and also public and non-profit sectors.

The results of the study speak to positive expectations for the US economy in 2015, and specific business industries. Other revelations include:

  • Projected spending increases to keep pace with technological advancements and innovation trends, more specifically increases will be seen in employee wages and benefits, data security and cloud computing, social media marketing, and primarily in hardware and software purchases.
  • In addition to spending, 95% of those surveyed agreed that organizations must encourage communication and create a culture of innovation moving forward to successfully achieve objectives.
  • Collaboration between the CFO and marketing will be essential, as 61.5% said their marketing initiatives will be the number one factor impacting their company’s success in 2015.
  • The leadership role of the CFO is changing too, with the value of being “social” taking precedence and projected to have positive implications this year. Along with this new “social” role CFOs should pay close attention to the importance of customer engagement and human capital optimization goals as well.

The role of the CFO is continually broadening to accommodate emerging growth initiatives and deliver impactful results that are critical to all aspects of business operations. And CFOs are playing a greater role in determining corporate direction, strategies, and ultimately creating long-term shareholder value.

Are there any stats in the study that surprise you? We’re guessing there are a few! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the study in the comments.

And feel free to enjoy our analyst webinar on Unleash Innovation – Put Your Community to Work which discussed more innovation trends and ways to help create a culture of innovation.

Get ‘Inno-spired’ by Our Forrester ‘Innovation Trends to Watch’ Webinar

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 5:55 PM, February 17, 2015

ForresterGenius may be “one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” according to Thomas Edison, but that one percent can be the difference between taking action now and waiting. And when it comes to innovation these days, waiting is the wrong move – because it gives your competitors that much more time to disrupt the space and send you reeling.

Successful enterprises have always known they need to continuously reinvent themselves to meet the demands of new generations of customers, but it’s even more important now as the manufacturing, distribution, and information ages have given way to the current Age of the Customer. Keeping up with trends and expectations is no easy task, and innovation must be a constant goal.

To keep the inspiration happening we recently hosted a webinar on Innovation Trends to Watch and Inspire You featuring Chip Gliedman, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Gliedman’s IT background helps him serve CIOs using research focused on “IT investment strategies, innovation, justifying technology investments, business technology alignment, and IT satisfaction. He is a frequent speaker on innovation for Forrester.

On our webinar he shared innovation trends in a way that will inspire you to act. Here’s just some of what he shared:

  • How to explore current innovation trends and decide on actions
  • How to exploit market opportunities to create business value
  • How to maximize profits by perfecting innovation processes
  • The questions to ask for specific innovation goals, whether product, process, organizational and market
  • How to use sustained innovation to avoid disruption
  • Common barriers to innovation
  • What skills to sharpen for innovation success
  • Benefits of open or “collaborative” innovation
  • Tips for getting started with your innovation program and for stepping up your game

And getting started is important! In fact 41% who attended the webinar shared that they are “struggling to get their innovation program ramped”. You can always tweak your innovation process down the road, but once you take those first steps it will become easier and easier to keep walking – and eventually run. Brightidea has a methodology we would welcome sharing with you to help get your innovation program up and running if you CONTACT US.

Or take the first step by watching the webinar here: Innovation Trends to Watch and Inspire You.

Innovation Programs By Design

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 8:13 AM, February 09, 2015


In this series, Gretchen Hoffman, VP of Marketing at Brightidea, interviews team members about innovation program pain points, design thinking and success stories, capturing 15+ years of innovation program expertise to help enterprises enhance – or create – a culture of innovation.

The biggest struggle most enterprises face when it comes to innovation is making the leap from talking about great ideas to putting those ideas in action. It’s difficult because harnessing people-powered innovation requires an in-depth understanding of the pain points, goals and capabilities specific to your enterprise – plus the solutions speaking to each.

Fortunately, Genevieve Wang, VP of Product at Brightidea, recently examined each area, extensively. And she shares key insights around each in the interview below!

GH: Please share some stories that help frame why innovation is necessary.

GW: There are quite a few examples of opportunities lost and businesses going under due to their failure to innovate. An example everyone will remember is Kodak. For decades, it was the market leader; if you were taking photographs, you were likely using Kodak film or a Kodak camera. How did they miss the boat on digital photography? Kodak’s failure to innovate in digital ultimately caused it to be forced out of a market it helped create. Another example is Blockbuster. The video market moved to an on-demand model, and Blockbuster remained brick and mortar-focused for too long. Most of its stores have since closed and it’s now chasing after competitors when it could have been leading them.

GH: So if innovation is necessary, and most enterprises recognize that it is – why isn’t innovation happening across the board?

GW: Innovation IS happening to some extent at most large companies, but it isn’t always being done well. Managing innovation and taking it beyond a brainstorming session to action is an extremely difficult task. Many companies support one-off innovation efforts that experience varying levels of success, but these random acts of innovation fail to capture the lion’s share of great ideas waiting to be explored in an organization.

Beyond that, while there are ready metrics for pretty much every other function in an organization, how does one measure innovation success? It makes it difficult for one person or team to own the process, because doing so seems like a risk that offers little reward for their efforts.

GH: How – and what - are we changing this for enterprises? How are we adding value to this process?

GW: Our goal at Brightidea is to improve the enterprise’s overall innovation experience and success rate. We’ve built a powerful innovation platform that allows the enterprise to manage every aspect of innovation, from identifying and rating ideas through creating business cases, tracking outcomes, and reporting analytics. The surgical tools we provide allow innovation leaders to do precisely what they need to do to engage participants, from organizing hackathons to crowdsourcing creative solutions – and they’re all housed in one place. It’s really everything an enterprise needs to effectively manage innovation and see measurable outcomes.

GH: Is that what we mean when we say “design thinking?”

GW: Design thinking means deeply understanding the customer – their daily lives, struggles, and how they try to overcome roadblocks – then synthesizing that information to see patterns, and finally generating potential solutions that can be iteratively tested with the customer. Design thinking is messy. We pick up nuggets as we talk to people, we develop personas that allow us to live a day in their lives, and we create concepts and mock-ups on the fly as we learn about their specific needs.

We also take feedback really seriously. We want to hear from our customers, and we reach out to ensure we have their feedback. If a customer is suggesting a feature, we explore it from multiple vantage points, to try to get to the underlying need that’s driving the feature request.

GH: So you’re saying we are practicing what we preach?

GW: Yes! We’re always innovating on the platform and our own products. We support a very agile product methodology, pushing product updates every two weeks.

Is your enterprise innovating effectively? Share your successes below! And be sure to reach out to learn more about how we can help you make innovation part of your organization’s culture. You may also find our paper on “7 Must Haves for Achieving Innovation Management ROI” of interest.

BrightWorks Platform Powering 2015 Rathmann Innovation Challenge

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 10:20 AM, January 27, 2015


Brightidea's BrightWorks Platform Powering 2015 Rathmann Innovation Challenge

What is the point of innovation? Simply to break new ground because we can? Some might argue that’s as good a goal as any, but innovation is probably best applied to improving the human condition – at least, that’s the point of the Rathmann Challenge, which aims to inspire innovators to change the world by rewarding big ideas.

So it made sense for Rathmann to partner with Brightidea and use our innovation platform, BrightWorks, to harness these ideas - because our mission goes beyond providing solutions for companies and organizations seeking a more efficient innovation process. We, too, seek to help advance people-powered ideas that will make the world a better place.

Our collaborative software, in conjunction with next generation architecture, will streamline the lengthy and multi-step application review process, allowing the greatest time and attention to be focused where it belongs: on the ideas submitted by innovative applicants.

About the Challenge

The chief project of the Rathmann Innovation Center, the Rathmann Challenge awards up to $300,000 to one winning organization - $100,000 for a past outstanding idea, and with it the possibility of $200,000 to pursue an Even Bigger Idea – all within an annually rotating theme (science, technology, arts, education, environment, health, human services, public affairs and international aid).

This year’s Rathmann Challenge asks applicants to focus on “Provisions for Personal Necessities in Preparation for Learning.” The goal is to “assist educators in addressing issues which interfere with PreK – 12 students’ ability to be fully present in the classroom.”

These needs include obvious items like classroom supplies, but also less obvious (but equally crucial) basic personal necessities like food, clothing and shelter, as well as health- and legal-related needs – the absence of which can put debilitating stress on students.

U.S.-based, legally-formed organizations are eligible to submit an application outlining past work, including an Even Bigger Idea aimed at improving the ability of students to be fully present in the classroom.

Each year one grant of $100,000 will be awarded based on past accomplishments, with a potential additional $200,000 to bring an Even Bigger Idea to fruition over the following two years. This Even Bigger Idea can be something new (still within the above-mentioned theme), or build upon past ideas that fit the theme’s criteria.

The application process is open from January 5, 2015 through February 12, 2015, or until 200 applications are received.

As the Rathmann Challenge awards past accomplishments, innovators should take note that next year’s challenge will be focused on “Environment – Managing and Harnessing the Data.” Get to work now on creating next year’s “past” in the present, as well as applying to this year’s challenge as part of the Rathmann Innovation Center’s effort to make great ideas a reality. You never know – the next Even Bigger Idea could be your own!

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