Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Job posting: Innocentive Novel Molecule Challenge Program Manager

From the inbox, an interesting position with Innocentive in Boston:
The Innovation Program Manager (NMC) is responsible for helping clients achieve maximal value from the InnoCentive Open Innovation services. A key responsibility includes leading the execution of InnoCentive's Novel Molecule Challenge program. Additionally, driving Challenge posting volumes by providing pre- and post-sales Challenge consultation with InnoCentive clients is essential. The position is extremely rewarding for technically trained individuals with superior communication and project management skills.  The successful candidate will join a team of scientists in the Client Services and Operations Department of InnoCentive, reporting to the Director of Premium Challenges.  This position is based in the InnoCentive headquarters in Waltham, MA.
  • Ph.D. or Master’s degree (Ph.D. preferred) in organic chemistry
  • 2+ years post-academic work experience in a research or external-facing position
  • Chemistry skills:  retrosynthesis, SciFinder, Chemdraw, database software (e.g. ISIS)
  • Superb group presentation skills – professional, dynamic, and poised with senior-level audiences
  • Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills
  • Personal attributes:  Self-motivated, entrepreneurial, optimistic and can-do, collaborative, personable, effective at multi-tasking, and excited to explore new disciplines,
  • Willingness to travel
Click through to see the whole role, which sound pretty interesting, really. 


  1. I don't like InnoCentive - it creates a conflict of interest and abuse/rip-off type of situations. You can get easily couple hundred of qualified people working on your problems for free and have them to send their solution of your problem. You may completely low-ball them, and you can also ask for something that is impossible to do as defined (make a peptide from coal in one economic step). Then you may reward one solver if you feel like doing so - or pay no-one and say that no solution has met the original definition . Either way, the background info and the ideas contained in the remaining 299 reports you are getting completely for free.

    I showed some Innocentive projects/problems pertaining self-assembling polymers for biomed applications to my colleagues and they laughed about what was demanded, and for how little money, and with zero IP protection to boot.

    1. I put in a few proposals (4 or 5) when I was in graduate school. Very easy to do. I got one reply back for more information, then rejected. The rest were flat out rejected.

      After I left school and went into industrial positions, I realized how ridiculous the offers were. If you had solutions to most of these problems, you could shop them to VC's for funding and start your own company based on the technology. Most of these solutions are worth orders of magnitude more than the rewards given.

    2. My sense is that some of the problems there were written by pretty coy operators. - The management wants you to do something that you do not want to do because you fear is is a stinker and your superiors do not realize how much time and money it would actually take to come up with anything useful. So you make it someone else's problem and ensure that no-one can solve it, by making the demands very demanding. You achieve 1) covering your ass 2) acquiring a bunch of free ideas, suggestions and pointers from few hundred people. You can say - even all these people do not know how to do it. Then, few months later you come up with your own brilliant solution (which just happen to coincide with few compiled ideas from the Innocentive submissions). There is zero transparency and hence great abuse potential

    3. Dear milkshake and Polychem,

      I wanted to reply to your posts regarding InnoCentive.

      Protecting Solvers’ Intellectual Property
      InnoCentive takes significant measures to ensure our Seekers don’t use solutions inappropriately. Our legal agreements with our Seekers, as well as our discussions of the evaluation process with Seeker scientists, significantly stresses this item. Additionally, our Seekers are well-respected companies who are very concerned with appropriate use of intellectual property, particularly regarding their potential liability if they were to use a submission inappropriately.

      I would also like to reply to your concerns about InnoCentive’s awards. First, InnoCentive has made over $13 million in awards to our Solvers throughout the company’s history. Second, regarding the award amounts for solutions, *if* you could reduce an idea to practice, patent it, create a start-up management team, and then successfully solicit VC funding, you certainly might be able to make much more money with a solution to an InnoCentive Challenge. What makes this a fair exchange (where many Solvers continue to participate) is the fact that our Solvers are typically trading very early stage ideas and our Seeker clients are the ones taking on the risk of the many “if’s” noted above.

      I hope this information is helpful and I would encourage you to become a Solver if you believe there’s value in it for you.

      All the best,

      Christian Stevenson, Ph.D.
      InnoCentive, Inc.