Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is OpenIDEO?

Founded in 2010, OpenIDEO—IDEO’s open innovation practice—enables people worldwide to come together and build solutions for today's toughest societal problems. Online and around the globe, OpenIDEO works with world-class partners to convene diverse communities that collectively develop ideas and accelerate social innovation. OpenIDEO’s platform expands on the power of crowdsourcing, equipping participants with resources, connections, and design tools to create real impact. After tackling dozens of topics ranging from food waste to girls' education to Ebola, people everywhere are designing a better future with OpenIDEO.

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How does OpenIDEO relate to IDEO? To IDEO.org?

Good question! We know it can be confusing. OpenIDEO is part of IDEO, a global design and innovation consultancy. We use open innovation to help people connect and address a wide range of societal issues. IDEO.org is IDEO's nonprofit sister organization, which focuses on designing products and services that improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities. We often work closely with colleagues across the IDEO family, and we always draw from the same DNA.

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What is open innovation?

Today’s problems are too big for any organization to tackle alone– which is why we bring people together to drive change. At OpenIDEO, open innovation is a collaborative approach to social impact that brings diverse people together online and around the globe to share ideas and build on each other’s insights.

We’ve seen that openness and collaboration drives change further, faster. We built an open innovation model because it allows us to offer people everywhere equal access to the tools and process of designing for social good. Our platform and events enable innovators worldwide to come together, find support, and iterate on the ideas of many to create real change.

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What are OpenIDEO Challenges?

Challenges are guided idea accelerators that give people worldwide the design tools, connections, and support to build solutions for tough societal problems. This is a great place to start if you’re getting to know OpenIDEO. Explore our Challenges.

OpenIDEO Challenges—developed in partnership with a Sponsor organization—surface and support innovative solutions for pressing social and environmental issues. Hosted on OpenIDEO’s online open innovation platform, Challenges begin with a call for ideas and guide participants through phases of the design thinking process to advance their projects. Challenges expand on the power of crowdsourcing, bringing together diverse, collaborative communities that share insights and build on the ideas of many to accelerate impact. Challenges may include events, mentorship, tools, funding and other opportunities to help participants scale and implement their solutions.

Have a question about the Challenge platform or process? Learn more in our Challenges FAQ.

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What are OpenIDEO Alliances?

Alliances are curated communities that help people connected by a shared purpose find support, build partnerships and use design to advance solutions. Alliances are hosted on OpenIDEO’s custom online platform, and may also connect in person at special events. If you’re committed to driving change, check out Alliances.

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What are OpenIDEO Chapters?

OpenIDEO Chapters are an established network of volunteer-driven communities that organize events in cities worldwide, connecting creative problem solvers and designing local solutions for our global efforts. Join a Chapter in your city.

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What are OpenIDEO Events?

Events are online and in person opportunities to connect and collaborate with innovators in your city and around the globe. Explore our upcoming events near you and worldwide.

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How To Get Involved

Who can participate on OpenIDEO?

You! OpenIDEO welcomes all creative thinkers. No matter what field you work in, what level of experience you have, or what country you’re from—if you’re curious about collaborating on solutions to solve some of the biggest problems facing the world today—join us.

If you’re interested in winning funding or design support, make sure to look out for eligibility criteria in the Challenge or Alliance you’d like to join. Some seek existing concepts and established organizations, while some seek brand new ideas to develop. In most cases, we welcome open participation from anyone; whether or not you’re eligible to win, you’ll gain helpful insights and tools by getting involved.

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How do I participate?

First, sign up for OpenIDEO to join our global community and receive updates as big opportunities are announced. Then, explore current opportunities to get involved in our Chapters, Alliances, and events. 

There are many ways to participate on OpenIDEO, depending on your interests, expertise and capacity. You can contribute on a variety of levels, ranging from sharing inspiration, giving feedback, or contributing ideas and collaborating with others to make them real in the world. This may require anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. It’s totally up to you.

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What is sponsorship and how can I learn more?

Our Challenges & Alliances are made possible through our partnerships with world-class organizations. We design and launch programs in partnership with our Sponsors, who work with us as thought partners and collaborators. To date, we have worked with Sponsors representing many sectors—from philanthropic organizations to corporate institutions, government agencies, and NGOs. Sponsors provide financial support to advance projects, as well as great ideas, networks, and technical resources.

These partnerships are rooted in a mutual goal to drive social change using open innovation. In addition to Challenge & Alliance Sponsors, we also work with other clients to develop custom open innovation programs that build collaborative networks for social good. To learn more about how we work with Sponsors, check out our Sponsor page.

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My confirmation email to register on OpenIDEO hasn’t arrived. What do I do?

First, don’t panic—we’ve got you covered. Please check your spam folder. If you still can't find it, try the sign up process again. Let us know if you still have problems by emailing us.

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I can’t log in! What do I do?

Check out this post for help. If that doesn’t do it, you can email us and we’ll sort it out.

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Help! I forgot my password. What do I do?

It happens to the best of us. Click here to get a new one.

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How do I change the email associated with my account?

If you’d like to use a different email, please send us a message including your name, current email, and preferred new email—and we’ll get you set up!

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How can I report abuse?

If you see a contribution or comment that you think crosses a line, please hit the red Report button next to the entry. If you’re concerned about something more significant, please email us.

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How do I deactivate my OpenIDEO profile?

We hope that you enjoyed being part of the community while you were here. You can delete your OpenIDEO profile by hitting the Edit Profile button there and then clicking the Delete button. Please note that your previous comments and contributions will still appear anonymously, under our An Old Friend profile.

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Stay In Touch

How can I keep up to date on what’s new on OpenIDEO?

First, join our email list to get our most important updates delivered straight to your inbox. Then, find us on social media: we keep our Facebook and Twitter up to date with highlights and interesting resources from OpenIDEO and beyond.

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I’ve participated online, but am interested in meeting other passionate people in my community. What should I do?

You can explore our events near you, and even host an event yourself! If you’d like to be part of a local community focused on using human-centered design to solve local Challenges, you can also check out our OpenIDEO Chapters around the world.

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I’m working on an idea I submitted on OpenIDEO, and I’d like to share the story of my experience in case it helps inspire others. How might I do this?

Share your experience with us on Facebook and Twitter, or shoot us an email. If this idea was related to a Challenge, you visit the Impact phase of the Challenge and post your story there as well.

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Will OpenIDEO ever share my email address?

No, we will not share your email address without your permission. We will check with you first if, for instance, one of our Sponsors wants to get in touch with you about your idea.

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Who owns the submissions on OpenIDEO?

All concepts publicly contributed to OpenIDEO become shareable, remix-able and reusable by anyone. Why? We've seen that the best innovation comes from co-creation amongst people with varied skills and experiences—people like you and the thousands of talented individuals that make up the OpenIDEO community. We operate under a mindset of open collaboration focused on social impact, and encourage anyone to act on submitted ideas and bring positive change to the world. If you’ve been inspired by an idea, we recommend that you comment on that idea and let the author know, as well as give credit to the idea by linking to it in your own submission. Who knows, it could be a great opportunity to work together!

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What if I have concerns about sharing intellectual property publicly?

At OpenIDEO, we believe that by openly sharing and building upon each other’s ideas we can accelerate social innovation. However, we understand that there may be special cases where highly sensitive or technical information may be difficult to share publicly. For participants in this position, we encourage you share a high-level conceptual explanation of your idea on the platform; we don’t need every detail to get a sense of its potential, and this gives our community the opportunity to offer valuable feedback on your idea.

If you are concerned about your intellectual property, there may be opportunities to privately share sensitive information directly with our team. Look out for special terms and conditions when you join a new Challenge, or send a message to the specific Challenge email address on their respective pages. If you need extra support, reach out to us.

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Where is the fine print?

Read the full text of our Terms and Conditions.

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What if my question isn’t answered here?

Just send us an email; we’ll be happy to help.

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