An idea contest seeks for innovative approaches for solving a problem or advancing a project, field of research or an open issue. A university, institute, ministry or foundation will hold this type of competition to address a particular topic. The goal is to collect ideas, to encourage young researchers, and possibly to bind them to the institution holding the contest.
Institutions often need a wide range of initiatives and formats, sometimes at short notice. Idea contests are held to create momentum for the creation and application of such new concepts. The institution will specify the participation conditions and analyse the entries at the end of the contest. A jury will usually select the best ideas and award prizes. This is an incentive for participants and can also give rise to media attention.
An idea contest encourages innovation and enables the winners to realise their ideas. It is a creative opportunity for networking and exchange. Some idea contests aim to attract large numbers of participants for realising a project, using the competition as a forum for exchanging experiences and ideas. The organisation that holds the contest can also draw the attention of young talents to itself, and thus expand its network strategically.
The topic or issue addressed in the contest as well as its conditions must be defined before it can be publicised. It must be clearly stated in the participation conditions who can take part, which assessment criteria should be met, and by when and in which form submissions should be entered. A jury is appointed and the prizes are specified. The call for applications and awarding of prizes should be published on all channels available (newsletter, press release, social media, etc.).
Some idea contests include support for the participants through consultation and seminars, to allow for close guidance during the development of ideas and the preparation of the projects.