Generating New Ideas for PERC’s R&D Pipeline

Client: The Propane Education & Research Council
propane tank installation spec sheets of propane challenge areas logos of conferences attended for propane challenge map of propane challenge submissions and impact graphic Propane challenge website

Project Overview

We managed and implemented key aspects of the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) Propane Challenge Program, an initiative designed to generate new, innovative ways to deliver and use propane. Nexight Group managed daily operations and open innovation efforts, conducted stakeholder outreach, and worked with PERC staff to identify promising ideas.

Need

PERC’s R&D network supports the development and adoption of technologies in a broad range of markets. In 2011, PERC launched Propane Challenge in response to the need for new, innovative research proposals in their R&D pipeline.

Our Solution

In response to PERC’s need, we developed a multipronged approach to seek out and solicit promising ideas from industry and the research community. We first established a web presence and worked with a communication firm to advertise the program and deliver newsletters to a wide audience. We launched targeted outreach efforts to attract ideas, conducting internet research to identify potential participants and attending trade-shows and conferences to network with researchers and promote the program. Lastly, we contracted two innovation brokers to solicit proposals from their network of contacts. We reviewed each idea that was submitted and enlisted industry volunteers to evaluate submissions. Ideas that passed industry review were reviewed by PERC staff within their standard grant management process. We also defined the characteristics of an ideal contributor for each of the appropriate challenge areas, and identified the most effective methods for engaging that audience. We then developed unique messaging to reach each group and requested that these target audiences solicit ideas through the program. In order to broaden the search for new and innovative ideas, we solicited ideas from researchers and manufacturers and created a community for PERC to leverage as part of future innovation efforts. To help PERC ensure that the program ran smoothly and met stated goals, we managed the day-to-day operations of the Propane Challenge program, including all initiation, planning, monitoring and control, execution, and closing of program-related activities.

Impact

Nexight Group’s contributions to Propane Challenge have helped PERC solicit more than 100 idea submissions for innovative propane-related technologies or adaptive uses and to identify 300 contacts that can be leveraged for future PERC innovation needs.