Mission Possible: Experts Plot the Steps for Running Successful Prize Competitions

Fighting businessmen

Long before the final prize is awarded, a successful challenge starts with a master plan.

That’s the point experts drove home during Operational Best Practices and Lessons Learned, the third webinar in Challenge.gov’s ongoing series on running successful prize competitions.

Sandeep Patel, open innovation manager for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Idea Lab, joined forces with Ben Bain and Dr. Jyotika Virmani, of XPRIZE, to offer strategies for agencies to plan and execute problem-solving events that deliver on their potential.

Putting together a team is the first step. While teams consist of different elements inside and outside of government, the experts agreed your team is key. Once your team is set, the decision points include registration, development, judging, and testing.

Making sure you get the word out is crucial. “Sell your prize,” Bain said. “You’ll need to tell your potential competitors why they absolutely must be a part of your competition.”

Ben Bain of XPRIZE listens to colleague during the DGU webinar

Patel added, “You should use all the tools you can to get the word out to recruit competitors, not just press releases and more traditional methods, but use a wide variety of channels including social media.”

Each panelist underscored the significance of making it easy for teams to sign up and compete and stressed the importance of feedback loops for providing help and answers to would-be problem-solvers.

But there’s more to it than that: Agencies also need to define a time frame for their events. Virmani pointed out there are benefits to both short and long time frames.

“A short time frame means you’re likely to get competitors with experience in the field, while a long time frame can lead to more innovative, perhaps even unusual solutions,” she advised.

Patel, whose program at Idea Lab has met with tremendous success, highlighted the value of a varied judging panel. “Remember to thank your judges and help make their jobs as easy as possible,” he said.

You can watch the entirety of the webinar in the video below, or jump to specific parts from the table of contents. Also, sign up for the next training event in the series, The Importance of Marketing and Public Education, on October 20th.

Recap Video Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to the presentation
  2. Decision points
  3. Registration
  4. Solution development
  5. Judging
  6. Testing
  7. Q&A
  8. Resources

Full Video