A while ago I blogged about Open Innovation as a way forward for think tanks. TED, which in a away fulfils think tank functions, has launched its fellowship call.
Fellowships, I think, are a great way for think tanks to take advantage of ideas that have been developed elsewhere but are longing for a platform from which to be launched and make an impact.
At ODI I had the chance to sit through quite a lot of recruitment sessions. They took quite a lot of time but I always saw them as a great opportunity to find out about good and original ideas from the candidates. For anyone planning to apply for an ODI post, the standard process involves a short presentation on how to tackle a problem or issue of interest to the programme hosting the position. More than once I would have wanted to buy their ideas -even if we could not offer them the job.
An ideas based competition or a call for promising fellows would be a great alternative to massive in-house investments in the development of new areas of research.
This could certainly attract many young graduate student looking for jobs in the think tank market and think tanks in developing countries should pay attention to this. North south transfer of ideas? Access to new literature? Networks? Etc? Just get someone with a good idea or project to developed it in your office.