Crowdicity and the RSA go back to the future

Marie Peach

ARTICLE BY
Marie Peach
Senior Account Manager

Posted by Marie Peach in News on 15 May 2014

RSA Premiums - a long tradition of open innovation competitions - are being revived with Crowdicity.


Crowdicity, the online idea management platform, is helping the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) to go back to its roots by reintroducing RSA Premiums – one of the first ‘open innovation challenges’ ever to be seen in the UK. At its foundation in 1754, the RSA introduced a series of competitions in which awards (called ‘Premiums’) were granted for useful inventions and discoveries aimed at tackling social and industrial problems, such as improving workers’ welfare and boosting agricultural productivity. Last awarded by the Society in 1850, RSA Premiums have now been revived with the support of Crowdicity, a company that specialises in enabling collaborative innovation and crowdsourcing.

Two RSA Premiums are now up and running, both powered by the Crowdicity platform. First up is the Good Business Challenge, which aims to make the heart of London an experimental zone for activity that creates new commercial, social and environmental value. Second is the Valuing Your Talent Challenge, which calls for new and better ways for organisations to understand and invest in their employees’ knowledge and skills.

Rob Wilmot, founder and CEO of Crowdicity – and also an RSA fellow, said: “This is a significant step for the RSA and hails back to its roots as an organisation which values open innovation and change for the improvement of society. The Crowdicity-powered platform was selected by the RSA as the perfect partner to bring the RSA’s principles into the 21st Century.”

Julian Thompson, Director of Enterprise at the RSA, said: “We are proud to be returning the RSA to its roots in open innovation. With these and future challenges we hope to inspire innovation not only on specific topics, but in the whole process of open innovation itself. We want RSA Premiums to achieve lasting change, and see Crowdicity as the partner with the technology, expertise and values to help us do that.” Crowdicity is building on two years’ of amazing growth – which sees them boast customers such as John Lewis, LEGO, WWF, P&G, and the NHS.

Rob Wilmot continued: “With future projects with the RSA already in the pipeline, we are certain this relationship will further develop RSA Premiums’ reputation as a leader in open innovation. This flagship project is hugely significant in positioning the RSA, once again, as a driving force in innovation and Crowdicity is looking forward to reviewing the tangible outputs it will produce.”

The RSA’s first premiums were offered for the discovery of cobalt and for the cultivation of madder (both dye-stuffs). By 1757 the scheme had flourished and committees were established to preside over six categories: Agriculture, Manufactures, Chemistry, Mechanics, Colonies and Trade and the Polite Arts. The Premium Award Scheme was the main focus of the Society’s work for its first one hundred years, and came to an end around 1850 when the Society changed the way in which it disseminated knowledge and information by establishing a lecture programme and publishing a Journal, both of which continue today.

Examples of RSA| premiums include:

  • 1800 - George Davis awarded the Gold Medal or 30 guineas for his invention for preventing passengers in carriages being injured when horses take fright
  • 1802 - Henry Greathead awarded a gold medal and fifty guineas for his lifeboat - the first practical craft of its kind. -1805 - George Smart received a gold medal for an invention which cleaned the greatest number of chimneys without the use of children.
  • 1809 - Mr Knight Spencer (a Captain in the London Volunteers) was awarded a silver medal for his invention of the forerunner of the ordinary hand semaphore on which the Army and Navy relied well into the 20th century.
  • 1810 - John Morrison awarded the Silver medal and forty guineas awarded “for inventing a variety of implements by which persons that have had the misfortune to lose their hands may usefully assist themselves
  • 1810 - John Davis awarded the first award for a ‘device for preserving life in case of fire’ for his design of a telescopic ladder on wheels. The ladder was tested with a ‘rescue’ from the top storey of the RSA’s House. The concept is still used today.

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