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Common Questions


  • > General questions

    • - Who is ideXlab ?

      • We are a Paris based start-up founded in 2011. We develop an online service allowing innovative companies and experts to meet and collaborate.
    • - What is "Open Innovation" ?

      • Open Innovation is a paradigm formulated by Prof. H.Chesbrough in 2003 "that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology".
        For us O.I. is a fantastic tool for companies to boost their competitiveness as they benefit from external know-how and research results.
    • - What is your service offering ?

      • We are intermediating Open Innovation projects. More specifically we identify experts able to solve specific problems, see examples here. We connect the experts having the best solutions with the companies that have expressed the needs.
    • - Who can benefit from the offer ?

      • Any innovative company large or small, willing to leverage external research or know-how can benefit from it. Our subscribers are also research institutions willing to build partnerships.
    • - What is the value for my company ?

      • Our tools enable your company to innovate more quickly and efficiently. With a better understanding of the competitive landscape and existing knowledge, your company can also identify new opportunities.
    • - What is the price of your service ?

      • We have different price plans depending on your company profile, the number of users and the number of questions you plan to get resolved per year. Please look at our Plans and Pricing page.
    • - I want to try before I buy, can I ?

      • Of course, we have a Fee trial plan which includes 10 search credits and is refilled when you recommend us. You can simply sign-up here. If you are ready to submit a question to the experts we have a pay-on-results policy that make it completely risk free for you. Get in touch with us for a presentation.
    • - How do I subscribe to one of your paying plans ?

      • Please contact-us by email, phone or on-site chat and we will present the options directly to you.
    • - How long does it take to run an experiment ?

      • Your involvement to search for experts and draft one question is approximately 2 to 3 hours. An important prerequisite is that you have identified and qualified the question to be submitted to the experts. Once the question is clear and that you know precisely what you are seeking (maturity of a solution, IPR terms, expected performance, time frame) the work on our platform is seamless and quick.
    • - What is a "good" Open Innovation question ?

      • A good question is one for which the answer is important to your business. The problem that you are submitting shall make sense to your company's business and bring real value when it is resolved. An OI project involves resources and costs so the benefits shall be clear and allow a good Return on Investment.
        It shall be based on SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). Measurable meaning: being clearly defined in terms of target performances so that the agreement with the provider can be audited. You may however be interested in a longer term project as e.g. a contract research agreement but milestones and clear objectives are still necessary. You can look at a list of questions published on our website here. You and your organisation shall also be ready to welcome the external innovation, please refer to our whitepaper on the Open Innovation Transformation on this topic.
    • - I'm not sure I am conducting my search the right way, can you assist ?
      I have questions on the necessary company transformation, can you assist ?

      • Of course we can, please go to our contact page and either send us an email or chat online with us, phone still works too !
  • > Overall service questions

    • - What is the starting point of your service ?

      • The starting point is when you have a clear problem statement in hands. It is also important that you know at least the basics of the technologies involved in existing solutions but you don't have to be an expert. From that point you can start searching for experts and documents using the technology keywords you know. Our Smart Search system will guide you through the available knowledge to find your way to the best experts.
    • - What is the overall process idea ?

      • Working on your question resolution involves 4 main steps:
        1) A search for experts and knowledge. Use our suggestions to discover the existing knowledge.
        2) The selection of relevant Experts. Create a list of relevant experts to answer your question.
        3) Draft your Question.
        4) Submit your question to our team
    • - How many experts shall I select ?

      • Around 100 experts is a good number, 50 is a minimum (included in the Trial plan). Not all the experts will be interested, not all interested experts will have an attractive proposal to make. So in the end if you want to have a handful of interesting offers 100 is a good number.
    • - What happens when I "DRAFT MY QUESTION" (former "Ask the experts")

      • You will be directed to our questionnaire that will guide you with specific questions in order to include all important aspects of the formulation.
    • - When are the experts contacted ?

      • After you hit "Send for Review" on the question form, an Open Innovation expert from our team will shortly review it. If you choose to make your question public he or she will publish it on our website. Then we will contact each expert individually to submit the proposal. This process may take 2 to 3 days.
    • - What is my commitment when I do ask a question ?

      • The question you send must be a real case with strong interest from your side, should you find an attractive proposal from an expert. We expect you to answer the clarification questions that the experts may have as well as to review their proposals and make a decision.
    • - how many experts are contacted ?

      • The exact number depends on the number of experts selected in your list, we estimate that 50% will actually read your question.
    • - How many answers will I receive ?

      • This depends of course on the number of contacted experts. We recommend that you interact with approximately 5 experts so we manage the process to aim for this number of experts and proposals.
    • - How do you manage confidentiality ?

      • This is an important aspects to which we pay a lot of attention, this includes:
        1. The name of your company does not appear
        2. You can decide to make the question public or not
        3. The Experts must agree to our Terms of Use and confidentiality rules.
        See more details in the Confidentiality section below.
  • > Search engine questions

    • - How does your search engine work ?

      • For a quick introduction of it's functions you can refer to our video demo and our guided tour page. More advanced features are addressed below. Our search engine is patented under EP2608129.
    • - Where do the references and publications come from?

      • Our system collects and aggregates publications from various sources, ranging from publishers with whom we have agreements to Open Access sources.
    • - What is the language for the keywords ?

      • English only at this point. If this is an issue please contact us so that we can assist you.
    • - Are all publications in English?

      • Yes most publications are in English as it is the language of reference today for scientific and technological activities. We are considering translation services for some users, please contact us if this is important for you.
    • - I cannot find the person I am looking for, what is happening ?

      • If you are searching by keywords, the person may not be in the list or in the subset displayed, you may select MORE at the end of the list to display the next experts or search using different keywords.
        If you are searching by name, make sure you are using 'firstname lastname' as a query and not last-name first, be also careful with potential typos.
    • - Where is the experts ranking coming from, who decides ?

      • The experts ranking is automatically calculated based on their digital fingerprint. These include scientific or technical documents they authored, patents or online activities.
        More specifically a given expert score is higher when he is associated with many relevant documents with regard to your query and if these documents are important (ex. Journals are more important than web pages). We spend considerable efforts with academic partners to continuously improve our ranking algorithm and to include more diverse data sources.
    • - Can I search for a given person ?

      • Yes you can "Search by Name", check the tick box first then enter the firstname first and then the lastname, in this order. However this is not the primary usage of our search engine.
    • - The results include documents from domains I want to exclude, is this possible?

      • yes, we support an advanced query language which allows you to exclude terms (using the NOT statement) as well as more options. Please refer to the guidelines provides in the tooltip on the small question mark sign (?) at the right of the search bar.
    • - What does represent the number 'XXX Experts' on top of the list ?

      • This is an estimation for the total number of relevant experts on the topic you are searching for.
    • - What are the suggestions ?

      • The suggestions (left panel) are a very important feature to guide your search. We build the suggestions list based on the initial query you entered and the knowledge areas found in the documents. They can represent constituent technologies or applications. Looking at the suggestions definition (pop-up window) and adding them to your search will allow you to discover new areas of expertise and experts able to contribute to your problem resolution. The technology behind the suggestions extraction is one of the key components of our service.
    • - What are the number displayed between brackets after the suggestion ?

      • They represent an approximation of the number of experts having worked on both your initial query and the suggested topic.
    • - What is the window displayed when the mouse passes over a suggestion ?

      • Each suggestion is either associated with a definition from Wikipedia or with a list of Wikipedia articles that are related to it. This allows you to quickly get a sense of what the suggestion is about before deciding to include it in your search or not.
    • - How can I use the suggestions ?

      • You can first look at the definition(s) displayed when you pass your mouse pointer over it. If the suggestion makes sense to your search you can check the left box to add it to your search terms, a new search will be started and a new list of experts and suggestions displayed. If you want to search only for the suggestion you can remove the initial query terms by clicking on the small cross on the right side.
    • - How can I filter the results ?

      • The left panel includes facettes that can be used to filter results. These include: Suggestions, Type, Year, Country, Institutions. When you select a value in one category (e.g. year = 2010 or Institution=MIT), only the experts and documents with this property (e.g. from 2010, or from the MIT) will be displayed.
    • - How can I rearrange the results ?

      • By clicking on the table header. Select 'Name' to sort the experts list by name or "Author of" to rank them by publication name.
    • - What is the main goal of the search result page ?

      • The objective in this page is to allow you to identify and select the most relevant experts to contribute to your challenge resolution. When you have identified an expert, clic on 'ADD' to add it to your List. When you have enough experts selected (50 to 100) you can Finalize your List. (refer to the Process questions below).
    • - What happens we I select Finalize list ?

      • You will be directed to a page showing the list of experts you have selected. In this page you can review the experts publications, remove experts and add similar experts from the list proposed at the bottom of the page.
  • > Process Questions

    • - When am I notified of the evolution of my question ?

      • You will receive a first email when the question you have submitted is validated by our team. You will then receive emails from us when either: i) a question is asked by an expert ii) a solution is proposed by an expert iii) an answer to your question on a solution is available.
    • - How are managed the messages to/from experts ?

      • All messages through our platform are subject to moderation. This is necessary to ensure the quality of our services. However no changes are made to the content unless they infringe our Terms of Services.
    • - What are the principles of the process implemented by your website ?

      • The process is made of four main steps
        1) A search for experts and knowledge.
        Start by entering keywords representing the domain of your question. As an exemple a user willing to "find smaller antennas design for a 3G device" may start by searching for "compact antenna". The system will return results and suggestions of relevant domains or technologies that should also be investigated, as "metamaterial antenna" or "USB dongle application". Select these suggestions if they make sense to look for particular expertise, new experts and new suggestions will be presented.
        For more details please refer to our video demo and guided tour.
        2) The selection of relevant Experts.
        Each time you find an expert having authored relevant publications or patents you can add him or her to your contact list, clic on ADD. For the overall process to be successful you must select a fair number of experts, typically around 100. This is required to make sure you will receive enough proposals. To help you with that, the system automatically detects similar experts to the ones you have selected. When you have selected a fair number of relevant experts you can "Finalise your List". This will give you an opportunity to review it, remove some experts or add similar ones.
        3) Draft your Question.
        When your list is finalized you can draft your question. The questionnaire will help you specify the most important aspects of the question (problem statement, IPR, maturity). Make your question more appealing by including a picture, a reward price if possible and a detailed version as an attachment.
        4) Submit your question.
        With an experts list and a question drafted you are almost done. Hit the "Send for Review" button and your question will be sent for validation by our team.
        What happens next ?
        We will review and potentially update your question and the experts list, identify the contacts and write to the experts and ask for their interest. You will receive some notifications along this process (question validated, question published, question asked, solution received) until you decide to select one or more proposals.
  • > Confidentiality questions

    • - How do you manage the confidentiality of my question information ?

      • We implement five controls to manage confidentiality as you need.
        i) The name of your company does not appear on the question unless you explicitly ask for it.
        ii) You can decide to make the question public (visible on our website to all visitor, pushed to external experts groups, Social Networks) or private, in this case it will be only visible to the experts contacted.
        iii) You can specify organisations names that you don't want to be contacted.
        iv) The Experts and our subscribers must agree to our Terms of Use and commit to our confidentiality rules.
        v) Finally we recommend not to share confidential information in the question details, these can be shared later when you have selected one our more proposal(s).
    • - How do you manage the confidentiality of the solutions submitted on the website ?

      • The solutions submitted are only visible to our staff and to the seeker who has agreed to our terms of Service. We however recommend to not share the full details of your inventions when they are not protected by IPR titles. Solutions may be described by their external performances and constraints in the first place. Implementation details can be discussed on a later stage under NDA.
    • - What data are stored from my activity on idexlab.com ?

      • Our servers contain your account data excluding passwords that are only stored in an encrypted form, the questions you have drafted and the messages exchanged with the experts.
        We store time limited usage statistics for optimization and maintenance purpose only.
    • - How do you ensure data security ?

      • Only our servers know about your account, nothing is shared with third parties. Passwords are encrypted. All our servers are based in France, backed-up locally and dedicated to our application, they implement all known security procedures and fixes.
    • - how is Intellectual property managed in an Open Innovation project ?

  • > Practical questions

    • - I have signed-up but my account is not activated.

      • Right after your sign-up we send you an email to activate your account, please follow the link included in this email. If you can't find our email look in your spam folder. If you haven't found it please write us an email or ask for online support on our website: contact-us.
    • - I lost my password, what can I do ?

      • Go to this page to reset it. You will receive a validation email.
    • - What are the web browsers supported by your service ?

      • we support all recent web browsers versions, these include: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer from version 9, Firefox and Safari.
    • - My trial account has expired before I could build my experts list, how can I extend it ?

      • When your account expires you will receive an email explaining the options.
    • - I experienced a connection / Browser / service interruption during my activity, can I restore my data ?

      • In most cases yes. Experts added to a List shall be still visible in your list except potentially the very last one. Messages sent and read shall still be in your messages page.
        However if your browser closed when you were drafting a question this data may be lost, we recommend to save draft versions periodically. You can reopen your draft questions from this page
    • - I submitted a Question but haven't received any notification of approval and I don't see it online.

      • It may happen that the question was not validated. But in any case you should have received a notification. Check your email spam box. If you can't find our messages please contact-us directly.
    • - I haven't found the answer to my question here, what can I do ?

      • please contact-us by email or onsite chat, we will be happy to answer.