The General Services Administration (GSA) is sponsoring a new campaign for that aims to expand the pool of higher education-based respondents to Federal challenges by discovering which digital platforms are best – and worst – to promote government competition outreach.

In announcing the ReachU Challenge this week, GSA is looking to expand outreach to university and college students, faculty, and staff and encourage participation in Federal challenges that crowdsource civilian help to solve national problems.

“University and college students, researchers, faculty, and staff are uniquely positioned to participate in Federal challenges – but Challenge.Gov needs to know where to find you,” the agency wrote on July 31.

“With prize competitions and challenges, higher education faculty, staff, and students benefit from demonstrating their skills, building experience and relationships – and could win cash prizes,” GSA said.

“Currently, just 10 percent of public solvers on Challenge.Gov represent academic institutions. We know that academic audiences are talented problem solvers with the potential to deliver new ideas, technologies, designs, algorithms, software, scientific solutions, and more,” GSA said. “We want to connect with you so you can learn about competitions and share your solutions to benefit the American people.”

At Challenge.Gov, Federal agencies “challenge” the public to solve problems – and have the chance to win cash prizes. The domain opens up problem-solving to the world, rather than keeping innovation within the walls of government.

From designers developing new face mask concepts, to students with ideas to improve airline travelers’ experiences, to engineers capturing the energy from ocean waves to power our world, the public can help solve problems big and small, GSA said.

Since 2010, the U.S. government has run nearly 1,800 prize competitions and awarded over $500 million to winning solutions – engaging public solvers ranging from students to small business owners and academic researchers.

The ReachU Challenge is looking for answers to one essential question: What are the best digital channels, forums, databases, or platforms to reach academic audiences about Federally sponsored prize competitions, challenges, and crowdsourcing campaigns?

The agency will hold a ReachU Challenge Chat Live Q&A on Aug. 15 at 3 p.m. The deadline to submit responses is Sept. 8.

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