In this phase you'll determine the appropriate channels for announcing your winners. You'll work with internal teams to expedite payment and document your processes. You'll also explore important non-monetary incentives for all participants. These include detailed feedback, recognition and information about follow-on funding opportunities.
Award Nonmonetary Incentives
Non-monetary incentives can attract participants as much as a cash prize. It's not as cut-and-dry as sending a check, but you can still do a variety of things to motivate participants that have nothing to do with prize money.
A few examples:
- Offer access to testing facilities.
- Give participants "facetime" with experts in the field.
- Provide an entrypoint to fast-tracked regulatory processes and business incubation.
You may need to provide these types of incentives through a process separate from any cash payment. But just like the prize money, make sure you provide them in a timely manner.
Keep in mind that you don't have to wait until the end of a challenge to provide these incentives. For example, you can make mentorship opportunities available throughout a challenge.
At the end of the day, your participants make your challenge. And at the end of your challenge, you should make that clear.
Let participants showcase their solutions as part of your final challenge event, whether that's at an award ceremony or elsewhere. You could also give them an opportunity to put their solutions on display at a conference, convention, trade show, fair or other public event.
Include participants in displays, booths and demonstrations. Invite them on a panel at an event like SXSW. Such venues offer participants the opportunity to meet potential partners for further development, investment or business venture.
For many participants, interactions with agency leaders or other luminaries are as important as winning the challenge. Organize meetups and photo opportunities to provide them some material to promote themselves and continue to build on their ideas.
Share their stories on social media and fold their journeys into the success story of your challenge.
Some winners and participants may already be seasoned and savvy fundraisers. Others won't know where to start.
All of them will appreciate any guidance and resources you can provide on topics including:
- technology-to-market opportunities
- small business funding opportunities
- making effective pitches to investors
- the grant-making process
You can provide these resources during the competition phase of your challenge, at the final award event or even afterwards.
You may even want to host a "demo day" where your participants can demonstrate and pitch their ideas to investors.
One reason we turn to open innovation methods such as challenges is to unlock the "black box" of government decision making and quickly release data that otherwise would be delayed or even never released.
Data could include anything from information about the process you used for a testing program and those who took part to detailed scoring rubrics and templates developed for the competition. And then there's the data contained within the solutions from participants.
If your challenge rules state that data and solutions will be made public, then you need to determine when and how to do so. If you're running a software or algorithm development challenge, that may mean releasing code as open-source. Just make sure you're in line with your agency's policies on open-source licenses.
The broadcasting of data products can be a big motivator for participants, who see the potential for their ideas to be shared and used the world over. It also allows participants to compare their solutions and sets standards for other agencies who may run their own competitions.
Finally, releasing data allows untold numbers of innovators who didn't participate to use the information generated by your challenge. After all, open innovation is all about collaboration, problem solving and the continued advancement of ideas, no matter where they come from.
One little reminder, though. As we mentioned in the "Accept Solutions" phase, stay true to your terms and conditions.
The Software and Apps challenge type section has more information about open-source coding.
Your challenge is being conducted out in the open. Your participants understand this and expect a certain level of information exchange, especially when it comes to feedback they can use to enhance their solutions.
Let participants know what the judges said about their solutions. Provide this feedback after you announce winners. Consider doing so in an open forum for the benefit of all participants.
Your participants assumed some risk when they signed up for your challenge. After all, they could work for months on a solution and not win anything.
But remember, a cash prize isn't always what they're after or the only way to show them your appreciation.
You can provide winners and other participants opportunities not typically available to the public. Consider providing them a once-in-a-lifetime experience such as:
- spending a day with agency management or other notable persons;
- a personalized tour of facilities;
- use of laboratory facilities or equipment; or
- some other behind-the-scenes experience.
If your agency can't do it, maybe you can partner with other agencies, companies or governments to provide these resources to participants and winners during or after your challenge.