As governments and other institutions increasingly come to recognize Joy’s Law – “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else” – many efforts to solve big problems are being posed to the public rather than being exclusively addressed within institutional borders. Two of the central techniques for shifting the locus of innovation from within institutions to the general public are:
- Prize-Induced Contests – using monetary rewards to incentivize individuals and other entities to develop solutions to public problems; and
- Grand Challenges – posing large, audacious goals to the public to spur collaborative, non-governmental efforts to solve them.
The GovLab’s Chief of Research Stefaan Verhulst and Associate Director of Research Andrew Young shared their observations on what is known regarding these two innovative techniques on Medium, with an eye toward operationalizing a research agenda to determine their effectiveness and creating the environment needed for governmental and other institutional decision-makers to act on the innovation opportunity they present.