Open Innovation Service Providers (OISP) approach problem solving by using the internet to tap into communication flow within and between virtual technical communities. In general, the OISP mindset is that innovation comes from where you least expect it; so you must look everywhere for it. Problems are often solved at the margins of disciplines. This means that someone from an unrelated field may have a novel approach to solving the problem, which is unbiased and unconventional but very applicable.
This approach to challenge/problem solving has additional benefits: cost effectiveness, short term contractual relationships, and participation of a global network. It is relatively inexpensive to post a challenge for 200,000 or more solvers to contemplate when compared to the costs of more traditional methods. Those solvers that propose a solution are only engaged for a few weeks, and in many cases produce a tangible product ready to be utilized with minor additional development required. The proposed solutions are reviewed and only those meeting NASA’s stringent success criteria will be selected and potentially offered short-term contracts if further development is required. In most cases, the solution rights are transferred once an award has been given. If further collaboration is needed a short-term contract to develop the idea or technology may be required.
The OISP methodology allows NASA to publicly issue challenges to seek innovative solutions and build awareness and collaboration with a global public. OISPs also represent a cost-effective and efficient way to seek solutions to NASA’s challenges.