All too often, the biggest challenges require the most radical solutions and innovations. Yet most companies don’t recruit on the basis of candidates being radical, they tend to prefer reliability and consistency. Add in the adoption of an institutional mindset among longer-term employees and it’s easy to see why regular employees can often fail to spot and drive breakthroughs.

Where in your company, organization or community are you hitting a wall? HeroX takes your problems and re-arranges them into a series of open innovation Challenges with measurable targets that competitors must achieve for companies to realize solutions and for the freelance innovators to win prizes.

The competitors for each Challenge come from anywhere, though notably from HeroX’s global network of over 106,000 innovators who are categorized by their knowledge and experience in specialist topics. Their wide range of expertise allows organizations in virtually any industry or business sector to find solutions through open innovation Challenges. Though it isn’t necessary to be pre-registered to enter a Challenge. Some HeroX clients target specific audiences, such as university students

How much does it cost to use HeroX? Challenges are free to get started and work on at the idea stage. Once a Challenge is published there is a payment to HeroX based on a % of the prize value. If a Challenge receives submissions though decides not to award a winner, there is a 50% refund. If no submissions are received then project owners receive a full refund.

Top-of-the-list major Challenges for all of humanity, such as “how can we save the oceans’ coral reefs, how can we supply enough freshwater to the planet’s growing population and is there a cure for dementia?” may seem issues that are too big for many citizen scientists and other freelance innovators to grapple with, even though the prizes may be substantial to the point of genuinely life-changing. Some HeroX Challenges are much closer to home.

Here are three Challenges as examples of the range of subjects and levels of input that are required to be a winner with HeroX, whether that’s as an organization looking for a solution or as a freelancer looking to provide one. The categories are Brain Surgery, Road Safety and Space Exploration.

Brain Surgery

The HORAO Challenge aims to improve brain surgery with the help of a technology that visualizes brain fibers, and welcomes entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, engineers, students, and anyone eager to contribute, to search for a solution. It is run by a group of neurosurgeons at the Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, Switzerland in Europe.

How HeroX Helps Solve Humanity’s Problems

The first stage was to raise funds through crowdfunding in 2017 to be able to offer cash prizes as an incentive and fly the finalists to Switzerland for the final judging. Perks for the crowdfunding backers included the possibility to accompany the team of neurosurgeons at the Inselspital, Bern University Hospital for a day. 230 backers pledged CHf 68,000, almost $70,000.

Most brain tumor surgery is done under general anesthesia. Tumors close to brain areas responsible for speech or vision may require the patient to be awake in order to check the exact location of these important brain functions. The surgeons use a large, free floating binocular operation microscope that magnifies the operation site. The microscope enable surgeons to see brain structures more accurately, and beyond their normal vision, though it doesn’t help surgeons distinguish between healthy brain and brain tumor.

The most important goal of surgery is to remove as much tumor as possible without harming important brain functions. An overlooked rim of only 1 or 2 millimeters of tumor may lead to early recurrence of the tumor and reduced survival time. On the other hand, important brain areas may be damaged irreversibly if the surgeon removes 1 or 2 millimeters too much, causing devastating harm to the patient.

On 14 March 2019 up to five finalists from the 206 people who are following this challenge will be flown to the HORAO Conference as a part of Brainweek Bern in Switzerland. Only then will it be decided who will win the HORAO Challenge. The deadline for submissions is 28 September 2018, the first prize is $25,000.

Road Safety

Kal Tire is Canada’s largest independent tire dealer.  They seek a new technology or methodology to use in their 260 stores that will help inform customers about the health and condition of their tires.

Drivers can buy d-i-y gauges for as little as $20, though may fail to accurately measure the tread wear in enough places on an unevenly worn tire. Laser systems are expensive to install in-store and can be difficult to use when a rapid turnaround is required.

Kal Tire’s Challenge is to develop a tire tread measurement solution that will free up technicians’ time by taking just 15-seconds or less to collect all necessary tire data on each tire. The tire data must be able to be collected in a variety of lighting and environmental conditions, and all measurements must be captured within a sub 1 millimeter level of accuracy.

There is $40,000 prize money available, and the competitors will retain ownership of any intellectual property associated with their solution. 156 people are following the challenge. The deadline for submissions is October 17, with a winner to be announced December 11. There could be two winners, qualifying for a minimum $10,000.

Space Exploration

How HeroX Helps Solve Humanity’s ProblemsThe Base 11 Space Challenge is a $1M+ prize for the first student-led team to design, build and launch a liquid-fueled single stage rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers (the Karman Line, the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and Outer Space) by December 30, 2021. The Challenge is open to any team affiliated with a US or Canadian institute of higher learning, provided they supply all the required information by the cut-off date of September 28, 2018.

A key purpose of the Challenge is to help develop a future workforce for the commercial organizations involved in space travel and related activities. 50% of the engineers currently involved in space programs are eligible for retirement in the next 10 years. The Challenge is designed to both motivate universities to bolster their rocketry programs and to empower students to learn far more than the theory of liquid propulsion systems, thus acquiring essential skills demanded by companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Google, Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Dassault Systèmes and Boeing. They want to establish a pipeline of future talent, and all student team members are guaranteed an interview with at least one of these corporate partners.

Student teams may buy an engine and other off-the-shelf components and may use mentors and subject matter experts to provide design critique and similar guidance. However, launchable rockets are expected to be solely the product of student teams’ efforts in terms of design, execution against design, full integration and launch.

Base 11 will distribute $1.15 million to winners over the course of this three-phase challenge, with a $1 million award being the ultimate prize for the rocket that reaches the 100 Km altitude mark by December 2021. $500,000 will go to the team, the other $500,000 to their university. The other $150,000 will go to winners of interim challenges along the way, similar to being a stage winner of a big event. The prize money is intended to defray some of the financial burdens associated with the Challenge, which is currently followed by 379 people.

The decentralization of Innovation, particularly in Science and the Space Frontier, is a major theme of our CSW Global 2018 conference running October 24-28 in Washington D.C. HeroX is a conference Premier Partner. Our 60+ speakers and panelists include experts in collaboration, open innovation and crowdsourcing from NASA and Space Nation. Here is a full agenda, and some tickets are still available. We hope to see and meet you there.