Frequently Asked Questions

How does OpenIDEO work?

After a challenge is posted at, the three development phases – research, ideas, and evaluation – are put into motion. Community members can contribute in a variety of different ways, from inspirational observations and photos, sketches of ideas, to business models and snippets of code. Sometimes this can be in the form of a comment; other times, it’s building off a previous person’s work.


People participating in OpenIDEO can provide feedback every step of the way. Between each development phase, IDEO helps shape the journey through framing the challenge, prototyping, and encouraging the conversation.


Eventually a selection of concepts are chosen as winners. All concepts generated are shareable, remix-able and reusable by anyone – in a similar way to Creative Commons. The hope is that some of these concepts will become reality outside of


We've created a simple video to explain how OpenIDEO works...


Who can participate?

OpenIDEO welcomes all creative thinkers. To participate in a challenge, we first ask you to sign up – but don’t worry, we’ll never share any of the personal information you give us, unless you explicitly agreed to being contacted by a challenge sponsor when you signed up for a challenge.


How much time and effort does it take to be a part of a challenge?

OpenIDEO participants can contribute on a variety of levels, ranging from applauding research to contributing complex concepts. Being a part of a challenge requires anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. It’s totally up to you!


How do you decide on the challenges?

We’re always looking for new challenges for We’re looking to work with organizations that would like to address problems for the social good. Please get in touch if you have an idea:


What is a Design Quotient, and why does it matter?

The Design Quotient (DQ) is a measure of your contributions to OpenIDEO. It corresponds to how active you are in the Research, Ideas and Evaluation phases of a challenge. It also measures your collaboration, increasing every time you comment or build on other people’s research and concepts. When you take part in a challenge, you build up your DQ by accruing points.


A DQ can help to publicly identify your design expertise and strengths. Maybe you’re excellent at providing research that shapes the conversation, or you’re great at building off of others’ ideas. Share it with your friends, colleagues, teachers, and even potential employers to give them some insight into what you’re best at.


How are ideas selected?

Everyone contributing to OpenIDEO helps select the best ideas. In the early phases, you can increase a concept’s or research'ss exposure by applauding it. Later on, when we move into the evaluation phase, you get the chance to rate concepts according to specific criteria.


What happens to the top ideas?

All concepts generated are shareable, remix-able and reusable because the Contributor grants a non-exclusive license to the Challenge Host. Beyond that, organisations we partner with on challenges may choose to implement the top ideas.


Who owns the ideas submitted on OpenIDEO, and who can act on those ideas to bring them to life?
We love that OpenIDEO is a collaborative, optimistic space. Basically, we operate under a mindset of open collaboration, where our collaborators work to make an impact – so we encourage people to act on submitted ideas and do something awesome with them in the name of social impact!  

While a user will own the copyright to any submission made on OpenIDEO, the user also grants a license to others to use the submission. OpenIDEO has always maintained that all concepts generated are shareable, remix-able, and reusable by anyone.  As of 9th January 2014, we have modified our Terms of Service to further clarify that the license extends to other OpenIDEO users, as well as IDEO and the Challenge Sponsor.  Please see the full text of our Terms of Service.

What do I do if I think someone else used my contribution but did not attribute it to me?
Many times the other user meant to attribute your contribution but simply forgot.  Other times, attribution of a particular concept may be impractical.  Please also keep in mind that similar ideas are often developed independently of each other.

In any of those cases, the best next step should be to reach out to the other user and investigate whether there is a potential opportunity to collaborate. See if the collaborator would be interested in adding you to their team or building further upon your respective contributions.  Share a link to your idea and ask if they saw it.  The similarities in your contributions could become an opportunity for you to both increase your design quotients, work together, and improve the world.


What is IDEO’s involvement in the challenges?

Think of us as facilitators: we’re here to help make the process work as well as possible. Sometimes we’ll help tidy things up in between challenge phases, re-framing ideas so they're clearer and help you focus on what’s most important. It’s your job to constitute what makes a good design.


What if I want to know about more challenges ?

Simply enter your email here and we’ll make sure you’re up to date on all of the challenges in the OpenIDEO queue. We promise not to share your contact information with anyone.


Is this a competition or a collaboration?

It’s a collaboration. While one or more top concept may be identified at the end of each challenge, OpenIDEO participants rely on others’ inspirations and feedback throughout the challenge. There is no 'winner' selected – only a concept that will likely be the result of a long process of iteration and collaboration.


Why is IDEO doing this?

We believe passionately that innovation requires collaboration and that technology can facilitate teamwork across great distances. We couldn’t find a platform that accommodated all of our core needs (which included being able to split up the innovation process into phases and to build on the ideas of others), so we created our own. Now, we’re sharing it.


Do I have to be a designer to participate?

Absolutely not. We welcome all creative individuals.

Who is the typical OpenIDEO user?

A creative type who's optimistic. Beyond that, we hope that there is no such thing as an average user. OpenIDEO reaches across disciplines, perspectives, contexts, borders and time zones. Diverse participants will make this platform a place where everyone comes together to think, work and build toward a collective good.


Who can post challenges?

Organisations or individuals can sponsor a design challenge, as long as it’s for social or environmental good. All OpenIDEO challenges require financial sponsorship to help underwrite our own costs associated with managing the challenge and providing tech and community support. Do you have a challenge idea? Let us know.


My confirmation email hasn’t arrived.

First, please check your spam folder. Then, click here for a new one.


Help! I forgot my password.

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


Does OpenIDEO share my user information?

No. We will never share your information, unless you explicitly agreed to being contacted by a challenge sponsor when you signed up for a challenge. (For example, this may happen if the sponsor needs to contact the challenge winners.)


I want to suggest a new feature or tell you about something that’s broken.

Thank you! Please email us


How can I report abuse?

You may flag any content that you feel is abusive or going against OpenIDEO's community rules.


How do I deactivate my account?

We hope that you enjoyed being part of the community while you were here. Please contact us at, and we’ll pull the plug.


My question is not listed above.

Please submit questions (with answers, if you'd like) to
Login to OpenIDEO