Frequently asked questions

Last updated 15 February 2016.

  • What is the Imperial CrowdSolve pilot?

    Imperial CrowdSolve is a new channel for organisations of all types to gain access to the expertise and capability of the Imperial research community. In response to problems submitted via this website, relevant expertise and interest is crowdsourced from the research community to help solve problems, find partners and develop projects.

    The initial phase is a one year pilot in 2016 to test the concept and deliver learning to inform future developments.

  • How do I submit a problem to the Imperial CrowdSolve pilot?

    This website is the place to submit problems. You can find the submission form here.

    If you prefer, you can email your submission to crowdsolve@imperial.ac.uk.

  • What type of problems are suitable for the Imperial CrowdSolve pilot?

    We do not want to be too prescriptive, because one of the aims of the pilot is to learn about this through our experiences. However, the following general guidance applies:

    • We are looking for problems that are ‘scientific’ in nature – i.e. there is a need for researchers to apply their specialist knowledge, higher?level skills and expert techniques.
    • Regarding timeline/urgency, it should be noted that we envisage a period of up to one month for crowdsourcing relevant expertise from the research community.
    • Problems should be expressed as broadly as possible, to potentially enable the application of a solution/technique from an unrelated industry/science.
    • Problems might, for example, be related to a need for improved efficiency or performance in a certain area of the business.
    • Problems that are likely to require collaboration between multiple disciplines are particularly welcomed.

    These example problems are provided to give an indication of the type of problem that might be best suited to the Imperial CrowdSolve pilot.

  • The problem I want to address is confidential. Can I still submit it?

    All information submitted at the initial stage must be non-confidential. The information you provide should be enough to connect you to the right researchers. A Non-Disclosure Agreement could be put in place at a later date.

    If it is not possible to explain your problem in broad terms without including confidential information, please contact us and we can refer you to another group such as Corporate Partnerships or Imperial Consultants.

  • Who can see my submission?

    Your submission will be viewable by the entire Imperial research community:  7,000+ researchers from a range of disciplines within the Faculties of Engineering, Medicine and Natural Sciences, and the Business School. While we will treat your information carefully, please remember that it is provided on a non-confidential basis.

  • What should I include in my submission?

    You should include a Problem Title, Problem Description, Keywords and any relevant images or other supplementary documentation. Further guidance is as follows:

    • The Problem Title field (maximum 150 characters, including spaces) will be the ‘headline’ seen by researchers in the first instance, so this should be as descriptive and engaging as possible.
    • The Problem Description field (maximum 500 words, including spaces) is a free format, but the following content is recommended:
      – Background/context
      – Possible approaches
      – Desired output/outcome, or success criteria
      – Possible modes of collaboration (e.g. consultancy, research project, work placement, etc)
      – Envisaged timeline for solving the problem

    We encourage you to attach any relevant images or other supplementary documentation. While each File Upload field can have attachments as large as 10MB, the maximum size for all attachments per entry cannot exceed 20MB.

  • What happens after I have submitted my problem to Imperial CrowdSolve?

    We will make your submission available to 7,000+ researchers via an internal message board and other digital media. PhD students and postdoctoral researchers will be subscribed to weekly updates of newly published problems, and they will be encouraged to engage more senior researchers directly. For the pilot, we are asking researchers to review the titles of all problems to maximise opportunities for new collaborations.

    Researchers will be able to register an interest in problems via the internal message board. They will be asked to provide a comment, stating their relevant knowledge/skills/projects and how they might contribute.

    Problems that generate significant interest or appeal to multiple disciplines will be selected for exploration at a series of ‘Problem Workout’ events to be hosted at Imperial College later in the year. For your problem to be selected, you or a suitable colleague will need to commit to attending the event. We will also arrange ad-hoc meetings where this is a more convenient option for the company and/or interested researchers.

  • What sort of response can I expect?
    1. You will receive an automated email to confirm receipt of your submission. We may discuss your submission with you before making it available to the research community.
    2. You will be informed as soon as your submission is published on the internal message board.
    3. You will receive updates on any responses/comments received from the research community, at an appropriate frequency to be agreed by you.
    4. If you wish to participate in the online discussion, we can facilitate this by setting up a separate forum.
    5. We will facilitate the next steps, e.g. Skype call, in-person meeting, or participation at a ‘Problem Workout’ event.
  • What will happen if the problem I submitted generates interest and there is good commitment from both sides?

    We will work with colleagues from across Imperial’s other support services to facilitate the progression of CrowdSolve-originated interactions into more formal collaborations, e.g. placements/secondments, consultancy, funded research projects.

  • Is there a fee for using Imperial CrowdSolve?

    During the pilot there is no fee. We expect participants to cover their own travel costs to any meetings/events.

  • How does the Imperial CrowdSolve pilot fit with the services offered by other groups such as Corporate Partnerships, Imperial Consultants and Imperial Innovations?

    Imperial CrowdSolve is a pilot of a new mode of engagement and it is complementary to the services offered by other groups. If we think your enquiry could benefit from involvement of teams such as Corporate Partnerships, Imperial Consultants or Imperial Innovations, we will coordinate with them as appropriate. Imperial CrowdSolve is about connecting people based on a common interest in a challenging problem. We may collaborate with other groups for the purpose of (i) making connections and (ii) progression of CrowdSolve-originated interactions towards formal agreements.