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Outcome-driven open innovation at NASA

December 06, 2016 by Jennifer L. Gustetic, Jason Crusan, Steve Rader, Sam Ortega

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In an increasingly connected and networked world, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recognizes the value of the public as a strategic partner in addressing some of our most pressing challenges. The agency is working to more effectively harness the expertise, ingenuity, and creativity of individual members of the public by enabling, accelerating, and scaling the use of open innovation approaches including prizes, challenges, and crowdsourcing. As NASA's use of open innovation tools to solve a variety of types of problems and advance of number of outcomes continues to grow, challenge design is also becoming more sophisticated as our expertise and capacity (personnel, platforms, and partners) grows and develops. NASA has recently pivoted from talking about the benefits of challenge-driven approaches, to the outcomes these types of activities yield. Challenge design should be informed by desired outcomes that align with NASA's mission. This paper provides several case studies of NASA open innovation activities and maps the outcomes of those activities to a successful set of outcomes that challenges can help drive alongside traditional tools such as contracts, grants and partnerships.