The world is your R&D unit

The world is your R&D unit

By Rajesh Setty on Wed 27 Apr 2005, 10:29 PM – Leave Comment

We have talked about this multiple times – if you want to have a

competitive advantage, you need to innovate. What if we have no

resources to invest in R&D and innovation. No problem. The whole

world can be your R&D unit :)

There are several examples where companies have used outside help

(paying in the range of $0 to hundreds of thousands of dollars)

Lego Mindstorms:

I think it was in 1999 that Lego introduced the Robotics Invention

System. In simple terms, they opened up the SDK for programmers to

create their own games. And they did. There were almost hundreds of

games and variations of existing games that programmers created out of

this system. Lego would put up a catalog showcasing the outside


Innocentive: Innocentive

connects the world’s top scientists with the toughest R&D

challenges out there. One of the solutions will win the money but as a

bonus company gets to see all other entries and approaches to solve the


Technorati: Last november Technorati launched their first developer’s contest.

They were looking for innovative uses of Technorati API. The Grand

prize winner got $2,500 and the runners up got an iPod. Once again, the

company got to see the hundreds of other cool entries (I think)

Top Coder: When I last saw it, there were more than 54,000 members in this community. Top Coder posts design challenges

and the members can participate and win. Once again, one person wins

and the company gets to see the designs of several other folks.

Isn’t this cool? I love the model as long as there is a win-win approach.


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