One of the most seductive forms of open innovation is to recruit the best minds in the world to work on really tough problems. Often this is done in the form of competitions. And, when the goal of the competition is to make the world a better place by solving a tough social problem, they tend to attract world-class talent as well as considerable press. What’s great is when the people who are attracted to address these challenges have a lot of local knowledge, because without that local knowledge and context, the designs are often fatally flawed.
Two such competitions caught my eye this month:
* Local Motors Goes International: Still Time to Vote on Five Great Vehicle Designs
Shell is sponsoring this competition with Local Motors for the design of appropriate vehicles for five different cities in the world. Each vehicle is supposed to be able to be built from locally sourced materials, be environmentally friendly, and to address a social issue that is specific to the city. It’s really fascinating to look through the entries and to read about both the problems being addressed and the local materials being promoted. It’s also great that in each case, the competitors include designers from the local regions who are familiar with the local traffic and road conditions as well as with the local materials.
Among my favorite designs are: