Currently the model that the XPRIZE Foundation is using is the one outlined above by @edmcnierney and it provides a simple baseline for a competition - every team is on their own, with a clear set of criteria, and will be judged independently on their accomplishments at the appropriate milestones. Teams are welcome to collaborate, but there is no incentive for them to do so.
While this model works, it does have some limitations.
Firstly, it builds an inherently competitive environment, which is great, but so much innovation flows when people collaborate. We can see this in industries such as Open Source, the cloud, Internet Of Things etc. The consequence of an inherently competitive environment is that most teams become silos. This could result in many teams solving the same problems. Collaboration could prevent this duplication of effort.
I think the other potential downside of siloed teams is that it makes it more complicated for an ecosystem to develop because most teams are publicly silent for much of their development period, for fear of giving away something to other teams. This makes it more complicated to build a thriving ecosystem around a particular problem to solve as most teams are essentially proprietary startups in stealth mode.
So, I think are some clear limitations in the current prize model, and I think to @curious's point, there is a good opportunity to explore how collaboration could play a role. What I am unclear about is what specific criteria would be appropriate for a collaboration component.
Initially I have thought that it would be neat if a small portion of the overall prize score could be based upon active collaboration. This would include things such as:
- Active participation in the forum for team members.
- Active collaboration around code in a place such as GitHub.
I am confident there could be an interesting collaborative component that could still give the teams the opportunity to build unique solutions, but to also tend to the silo and ecosystem limitations I mentioned above.
We have indeed been encouraging teams to collaborate and partner where it makes sense. I even went so far as to survey teams who had registered an Intent To Compete to get their perspectives on collaboration. The result here was an eagerness to collaborate.
The subsequent reality though has been relatively little collaboration, despite an interest. I believe that this is because of the competitive nature of the environment - there is no reason to collaborate and some may see it as a risk.
I would love to see a culture where coopetition is a core part of the XPRIZE experience. I think it could take some awesome future XPRIZE competitions and make them even better.
I would love to hear how you folks feel this could potentially work and what the positive and negative effects could be.