New Contest Launched for Best Oil Spill Solution

Listen up, social innovators and social entrepreneurs. This month, InnoCentive -- the global idea marketplace that invites solutions to the world's most important problems for cash rewards of up to $1 million -- is hosting what it calls "The Emergency Situation Challenge." It's an attempt  to crowdsource new and better ways to clean up the oil spill along the Gulf Coast.

But wait. Not so fast. Unlike InnoCentive's other Web contests, this one is open to all and -- surprise -- offers no prize money. Yes, it's still a big-deal contest. It's just that InnoCentive managers haven't yet been able to recruit a sponsor to put up the prize money.

"This is an emergency Situation Challenge and will be quite different than any other Challenge we have run on the InnoCentive website," the company explains. "No one has requested us to do this and InnoCentive is not getting paid to run this Challenge. We are doing it because we believe our Solver base can and will help and we will do everything we can to get solutions into the hands of the appropriate responders. This is an experiment and we believe our Solvers will answer this call for help. We believe trying to mitigate this international disaster is the right thing to do."

The deadline for submissions is May 30. Each submission, typically no more than two pages long, must identify and describe a solution that can help prevent further damage caused by the explosion and ongoing oil spill along the Gulf Coast.  People who submit ideas are required to give InnoCentive and any emergency respondents "free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information submitted specifically to be used for this oil spill crisis." The good news? "You will still retain ownership of any idea submitted," Innocentive says. For more information, go to the InnoCentive site.

What do you think, folks? Should this social innovation prize carry a cash reward like all others launched on the site? Or, in this case, is prize money not that big of a deal?

If ever there would be a reason for a prize money partnership, might this be it?

Let us hear from you.