Got a bright idea? Harvard Catalyst, the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center, wants to know. Using federal stimulus funding from the National Institutes of Health, the group has joined with InnoCentive, a global platform for innovation contests, to launch a series of challenges aimed at uncovering novel solutions to thorny scientific problems. Such contests, which have successfully fostered innovation in the business sector, may spark investigations in medicine as well.
The first contest, earlier this year, challenged the entire Harvard community—including faculty, students, and staff—to brainstorm fresh ideas related to type 1 diabetes. This condition “has touched many people at Harvard and elsewhere,” says Eva Guinan ’80, an HMS associate professor of pediatrics at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and one of the project’s leaders. “As a result, they may have questions or ideas that could help spawn new collaborations and areas for research.”
To sweeten the deal, Harvard Catalyst offers between $2,500 and $10,000 in prize money for ideas that the review panel deems most promising. For more information on this and future contests, visit http://catalyst.harvard.edu/.