Are you the kind of person always up for a challenge? Who will fix what can’t be fixed? Find the solution no one has thought of before? Take on the task that makes everyone else shudder? Or maybe you are just a nice normal person who has a great idea now and then! Perhaps Challenge.gov is for you. One component of the Open Government Directive was to encourage more public-private collaboration. To quote President Obama, The challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck. Challenge.gov was a direct result of this directive. On this site, over 80 federal agencies host challenges and prize competitions to find innovative solutions to their most pressing problems.
How it Works
A government agency announces its challenge on Challenge.gov. So far, there have been over 707 contests in several different areas. Members of the public register free of charge to enter the competition, interact with others on discussion boards, or simply follow what interests them. Prizes range from bragging rights and exposure for your idea to millions of dollars in cash. New competitions are always being announced as old ones are closing. Here are some success stories to give you an idea of the kinds of challenges that are featured and the winning solutions.
- Frank Schilder (Thomson Reuters) of St. Paul, MN won a U.S. Census Bureau software challenge to easily allow people with disabilities to find housing and means of travel in the state of Minnesota. His reward was the opportunity to demonstrate his application to the Census Bureau’s chief technology officer and Commerce Department’s chief data officer.
- Amos Winter and Natasha Writing of MIT in Cambridge, MA accepted the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) challenge by creating cost and energy efficient water desalination technology. They received $140,000.
- Laquitta DeMerchant (Fuzion Apps) of Sugar Land, TX found a software solution for the Department of Labor to create tools that promote equal pay. Her prize was full tuition to attend an immersive program in digital product innovation.
- Lauren Elachi and her four-woman-team enabled the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery to receive $60 million to implement an energy-efficient water desalination program.
- Sean Mahoney’s team (Masten Space Systems) designed a rocket powered ship that simulates how vehicles land on the moon for more cost-effective moon landings. Their prize was over $1 million.
Although the above winners are impressive, you need not be a rocket scientist to enter. Here is a short video for more information.