America Makes Announces New Series of Challenges Called Innovation Sprints

February 16, 2016 | Categories: America Makes News, Opportunities

The Institute Partners with InnoCentive Inc. to Reach a Broader Audience of Innovators

Youngstown, Ohio — February 16, 2016. America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), is pleased to announce its partnership with InnoCentive Inc., the pioneer in crowdsourced innovation and Challenge Driven Innovation™, to launch a pilot series of three challenges called Innovation Sprints. The goal of the America Makes Innovations Sprints is to further research and development (R&D) in key areas in support of the Institute’s Technology Roadmap and the advancement of the additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (3DP) industry while reaching a broader audience of innovators. America Makes will award each Innovation Sprint winner with a Silver-level Membership to the Institute for one year, worth $15,000.

Unlike the Institute’s formal Project Calls, which are deeper in scale and effort and must adhere to a wider set of criteria, the Innovation Sprints target a very specific technology need within the Roadmap and require compliance with a limited set of criteria. Participants in the Innovation Sprints will have 90 days to submit their written proposal and experimental proof-of-concept data.

“America Makes and our membership community are doing great, collaborative work to innovate and advance our industry,” said John Wilczynski, Deputy Director of Technology Development at America Makes. “However, we realize that there is a significant amount of R&D activity in AM/3DP that is not currently represented at America Makes. Other than Project Calls, we have not explored other vehicles to solicit feedback or provide additional information-sharing opportunities for members or non-members. The Innovations Sprints provide a tremendous opportunity for members and non-members who are currently doing relevant work that aligns with the Institute’s Technology Roadmap to engage with America Makes by sharing their work and findings on an abridged scale and timeline.”

The first in the series of America Makes Innovation Sprints, which launched today, focuses on “smart structures” using AM methods. A smart structure is any part with an integrated device, such as (but not limited to) embedded sensors or actuators that allow for data acquisition and/or smart manipulation. This application has been a long-standing promise of AM that remains unfulfilled. America Makes wants to better understand the state of the art of this potentially disruptive technology.

“By partnering with InnoCentive and pursuing crowdsourcing as a new engagement vehicle, we are optimistic that we will connect with some of the great smart structure R&D currently underway,” added Mr. Wilczynski. “Input from the ‘crowd’ will dramatically improve our ability to accelerate 3DP research and specifically target the supply chain associated with smart structures and devices in this first Innovation Sprint.”

The America Makes Innovation Sprints are open to both members and non-members. Because America Makes is committed to fostering a balanced member community of diverse organizations, the Institute is offering Silver-level membership, worth $15K, to America Makes as the award of each Innovation Sprint. Membership in America Makes provides significant benefits, including direct contact with the AM and 3DP industry’s thought leaders and innovators and access to valuable intellectual property, technical presentations, project calls, and much more.

Current America Makes members are eligible for award in the form of equivalent credit toward future membership fees.

“America Makes’ focus is on helping the United States grow capabilities and strength in 3D printing,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Director of Operations. “As a collaborative of innovators, America Makes is open to embracing innovation from whatever the source. We are excited to embark on this pilot series of Innovation Sprints with InnoCentive and look forward to a strong response to the challenges.”

Added InnoCentive CEO Craig Jones, “Challenge-Driven Innovation has the power to focus the attention of entire communities of diverse problem solvers and creative thinkers. InnoCentive’s unrivalled Solver network and extensive experience, combined with the pull of an Institute like America Makes, means we can engage with a wide, new audience of individuals and companies, bringing fresh ideas and further pluralizing and accelerating innovation in additive manufacturing.”

To participate in the Innovation Sprints, registration with InnoCentive through its Website is required. Innovation Sprint participants must also comply with the Terms and Conditions of the challenge, including being eligible for, and accept, membership in America Makes. Login access to all Terms and Conditions can be found on the America Makes Innovation Sprint – Smart Structure Challenge page on the InnoCentive Website under the Challenge Center or at

Innovation Sprint Smart Structures submissions are due on May 11, 2016.


About America Makes

America Makes is the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. As the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (3DP), America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM and 3DP technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. Structured as a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources, we are working together to innovate and accelerate AM and 3DP to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. Based in Youngstown, Ohio, America Makes is the first institute for up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes to follow and is driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). For more information about America Makes, visit


The NCDMM delivers optimized manufacturing solutions that enhance the quality, affordability, maintainability, and rapid deployment of existing and yet-to-be developed defense systems. This is accomplished through collaboration with government, industry, and academic organizations to promote the implementation of best practices to key stakeholders through the development and delivery of disciplined training, advanced technologies, and methodologies. For additional information, visit the NCDMM at

About InnoCentive

InnoCentive crowdsources innovation solutions from the world’s smartest people, who compete to provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy and scientific challenges. Our global network of millions of problem solvers, proven challenge methodology, and cloud-based innovation management platform, help our clients transform their economics of innovation through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. For over a decade, organizations, such as Astra Zeneca, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cleveland Clinic, Eli Lilly & Company, NASA, Procter & Gamble, Thomson Reuters, and several government agencies in the U.S. and Europe, have partnered with InnoCentive. For more information, visit