November 14, 2022

Can competitions replace traditional RFPs?

When it comes to generating new ideas, finding new partners, and streamlining your innovation pipeline, traditional RFPs can be time-consuming, inefficient, and ineffective. Carrot competitions offer a new way to manage these important projects while saving your organization time and money.

Procurement can be daunting. For many reasons, many organizations get stuck using the same tools, working with the same players, and relying on outdated processes to meet their needs. There are new ideas that can increase their innovation capacity and garner long-term success. By gaining access to new vendors, new markets, and by having teams build proposals that are optimized for your specific challenge, your team can spend your valuable time working to implement and scale solutions you may not get from traditional methods.

Fair competitions ensure that no applicant can gain an unfair advantage by any means outside of their application itself.

Carrot uses our proprietary software platform and pressure-tested methodology to produce results you may not get through traditional RFPs. We create custom competitions that are optimized for the specific needs of our partners. Put simply, our process builds more open, fair, and transparent sourcing methods that have a very high potential to lead to better results.  

A team at a conference table.

When are competitions most effective?

Any time you're looking to allocate resources or need to find a vendor to support innovation, competitions and grand challenges are a unique strategy to tap into the creativity of individuals and organizations around the world. They can help you find new partners, learn about new solutions that exist in the market, and establish a brand identity for your organization. Carrot has a proven track record of helping our partners achieve their desired results through our custom competition platform and methodology to gain a competitive advantage.  

Custom Competitions

These methods allow your team to be specific about your desired outcomes and KPIs and to incentivize organizations to devote time and energy to proposing solutions that are custom built to meet your needs. Over the years, we've even seen groups form joint ventures or start new businesses solely to apply for our Carrot challenges and competitions. Whether your organization is striving for technological innovations, such as sourcing new parts for the International Space Station, or seeking disruptive innovations that are will help close the gender gap, Carrot can help you design custom applications and scoring rubrics that will guide applicants to build solutions that are tailored to your project at a rapid pace.  

Procurement can be daunting. For many reasons, many organizations get stuck using the same tools, working with the same players, and relying on outdated processes to meet their needs.

Grand Challenges

Grand challenges can also be an effective marketing tool by helping to attract attention and resources from around the world. They can play a role in building a company’s brand by demonstrating its innovation capacity to potential customers, employees, and investors. As part of our service package at Carrot, we design a unique brand, website, and digital identity for your program to make you stand out from the crowd.  

Diverse team in discussion.

Attributes of Effective Challenges and Competitions

While competitions and grand challenges can be a wonderful tool when used correctly, a poorly run competition could be harmful for your brand. It is important to create a clear and concise set of guidelines for participants, and to make sure that your program is properly advertised to ensure that you receive high-quality submissions and that applicants feel that their time was well spent. At Carrot, we do this by working to ensure that every competition we run is open, transparent, and fair:

Grand challenges can play a role in building a company’s brand by demonstrating its innovation capacity to potential customers, employees, and investors.


Open competitions are built such that any organization that meets the eligibility criteria defined by your organization can easily register and apply. We make this simple by using tools like targeted outreach and engagement, organizational readiness quizzes, and streamlined registration processes to ensure that—whether you're running a challenge on a global scale, or just looking for participants from your local community—qualified individuals and organizations can easily apply.  


Transparent competitions are built to ensure that each participant knows exactly how they are being scored and by whom. We publish our custom scoring rubrics on every website we design so that applicants understand how their ideas are being evaluated and can put their best foot forward in their responses. Additionally, it is important to have a qualified team in place to evaluate submissions. Carrot has the expertise to help you recruit and train judges and evaluators, so each applicant has the confidence that their submission is being graded by thought leaders and experts in their field.  


Fair competitions ensure that no applicant can gain an unfair advantage by any means outside of their application itself. Too often under the status quo applicants feel that organizations favor groups with whom they have existing relationships or connections and are less likely to put forth the effort to apply for RFPs or traditional grants. Carrot levels the playing field by making sure each idea is scored by at least five judges and that scores are statistically normalized to prevent advantages gained by easy or difficult graders. Because we normalize scores, Carrot can also offer a unique application review process known as 'Peer-to-Peer Review.' Read more about this methodology and book a demo of out platform and services here.  

Runway during a sunset in the horizon.

Where the Rubber meets the Road

Whether you're searching for new business models for your accelerator program, seeking disruptive innovation for a technological challenge, or looking to move into a new market, Carrot can help you source the best partners to make sure your collaborations are  successful. Here are a few examples of our services being used to replace traditional RFPs in the market:

GenH Challenge

GenH Challenge

Partners: Johnson & Johnson Corporation

Casting a net across every continent in the world, Johnson & Johnson sought to attract new models of healthcare delivery from the frontlines, representing the least developed communities and countries, with seasoned experience serving under-resourced communities. This global competition realized new economic and operational models from social entrepreneurs working at the heart of healthcare.

Future of Data Challenge

Future of Data Challenge  

Partner: Omidyar Network  

This competition is designed to induce new solutions for reimagining how we think and talk about data, activating a more equitable data economy and responsibly unlocking data’s value for all. The sponsors are actively protesting how data is collected and monetized online, and this global challenge will be used to foster new operational models and a stronger regulatory framework that will benefit humanity

NASA C02 Conversion Challenge

CO2 Conversion Challenge  

Partner: NASA  

As NASA prepares to initiate a Mars Landing Mission, new technologies must sustain life on the planet surface. Carrot has designed, developed, and managed a competition to induce new devices to convert astronaut breath into glucose and that meet the payload constraints of the testing and landing teams. 

Professional woman looking at sticky notes.

Is a competition right for you?

When it comes time to tackle your next big project, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer 'yes' to most of them, a competition may be right for you.  

- Are you looking for new ideas or solutions to a problem?

- Do you want to increase awareness of your brand or mission?

- Do you want to engage with a new or different group of people?

- Do you want to save time and money while still attracting high-quality submissions?

- Are you looking for a more efficient way to vet and select partners?

If you answered 'yes' to most of the questions, reach out to Carrot today. We would be happy to walk you through a demo of our platform and methodology to see if running a challenge or competition could help your organization achieve its goals.  


Competitions and grand challenges can be an effective replacement for traditional RFPs, saving organizations time and money. Carrot has the expertise to help you design, develop, and manage a competition or challenge that meets your specific needs. Contact us to learn more about our services and book a demo of our platform here.

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