Knight Foundation’s latest newschallenge launches its Entries phase today, seeking new ideas to improve the Health of communities by asking this question: “How can we harness data and information for the health of communities?” The platform is our first public instance of IDEO’s new open innovation platform OI Engine. Read on to learn more about the latest challenge and some of the stuff we’re learning about running open challenges with financial rewards.

Last year we began working with the amazing team at Knight Foundation to help shift how they run the ‘newschallenge’, a series of online challenges aiming to accelerate media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Our shared goal  was to help make the process easier to manage and more transparent, but also to infuse it with a design process, and in so doing, improve ideas with increased collaboration, encourage people to iterate ideas continuously, and make the process more visual.  The first public challenge we ran was focussed on open government and Knight received 819 submissions for grant funding, of which they chose eight to support with a share of $3.2 million and mentoring. We’ve been running challenges on other platforms using the OI Engine software for a while now (including, but with the introduction of financial support for the winners, we were unsure exactly how it would pan out: would there be too much competition? Would people try to game the system? Fortunately the guys at Knight Foundation have a lot of experience with managing competitions, and their process for vetting candidates is really well thought out. Despite these initial fears the platform had some clear benefits, namely:

  1.  All final projects had iterated their ideas online (and continued to do so even after being shortlisted).
  2. All benefited from platform, with some of the projects adding team members based on conversations that happened though the process.
  3. During the final MIT event where the winners were announced, one third of the house raised their hands saying they had engaged in the platform somehow.
  4. Provided a way for people to express their ideas visually. The submissions had visual explanations in the form of user scenarios, videos, interface mockups or demos.
  5. It enabled people to be included who weren’t potential awardees. This meant participants received feedback to improve their ideas or to learn how their idea had been implemented in a similar fashion.

health Challenge

The current challenge, focussed on Health & Data, will reward innovative media ideas that support the health of communities. Winners will received a share of $2M as well as an additional $200k from challenge partners the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation. In the inspiration phase, the challenge aimed to understand the needs of people in local communities, what we can learn from existing experiments in health data, and also what existing solutions were out there already to address the challenge.

Today is the launch of the Entries phase, so if you or someone you know had a breakthrough idea to data and information for the health of communities, then head on over to the newschallenge and add that idea!

Oh and check out this awesome video that explains the process:

If you’re interested to learn more about our open innovation platform OI Engine, then get in touch or read more at