Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is an American multi-program science and technology national laboratory. It is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system and its programs focus on materials, neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security.
In order to meet program objectives, ORNL launched JUMP. JUMP is an online crowdsourcing community launched in 2015. Its an online place where innovators, particularly small entrepreneurs, can present ideas for new technologies for energy-efficient buildings to private and public sector leaders in research and development. Additionally, JUMP includes opportunities for all users to comment and vote on the posted ideas. This community discussion helps DOE, the labs, and industry partners gauge the market’s interest in the topic and potential solutions.
But because the program emphasizes the need to reach out to and grow budding entrepreneurs, they’ve baked mentorship right into their program. Although all ideas move through a five stage process of refinement and evaluation (challenge launch, idea submission, voting feedback, judging, and the announcement of winners), it is that final stage that is the most interesting.
Upon announcement of the judges’ decisions, the innovator (the submitter of the winning idea), Lab technical advisor (a technical member of a national laboratory with relevant technical expertise for the call at hand), and industry partner collaborate to move the technology forward. This three-way partnership is highly customized depending on the skill set of the ideator, the requirements of the technology and its potential applications. In some cases, the Labs are able to connect with and establish partnerships with accelerators programs to further support and expedite the technology to market. This means that the merits of the idea aren’t limited by the boundaries of the organization OR the capabilities of someone with a great idea.
To learn more about Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s use of crowdsourcing for innovation, read the full case study here.