A well-functioning technological society is built on and operates with a mutually advantageous system of benefit and reward; outreach is one of the “in”-terms these days, as are globalisation, internet service and its instantaneous communication facilities.
They have brought about massive shifts in many aspects. One of such shifts is in innovation.
There are companies, let’s call them service providers (SPs) that sprung up to make use of the great new global communication potential. Their raison d’être is bringing together actual problems with potential solvers of such. Typically, they publish a “Seeker’s” problem and their registered “Solvers” can compete for the reward.
There is no limit to the type of problems or promised rewards. The problems can range from small improvements for existing materials or technologies to brainstorming of most complex problems and searching for novel ideas, processes, and so forth. Just to give you an example of what it is about, here is a screenshot of an actual and current problem, with a deadline of Feb. 12, 2016, as obtained from a screenshot:
Accompanying this headline is a brief description of the desired idea or development and more details on the “Challenge” can be found once you open the link and log in. This particular challenge by the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center is probably quite representative in its terms of advice, idea, or actual product desired by the seeker. Of course, the level of rewards is not set by the SPs that provide their dissemination but by the seekers.
With access to all kinds of government procurement modes, and hundreds or thousands of researchers with (presumably) first-hand experience and potential ideas in numerous government facilities, one might think that a solution (if it exists at all) to this challenge could be found in-house. Obviously, that does not seem to be the case here. If that is so, is the “reward” shown in the figure commensurate with the challenge?