An estimated 95% of all technologies coming out of universities never make it to the real world. Marblar, which was launched in September by a bunch of PhD students in Britain, aims to harness the collective imagination to prevent such waste. Other ongoing competitions invite people to come up with uses for a new kind of foam, a probe inspired by a wasp sting or paint-guns to squirt layers of paint just few molecules across.

And how does it work?

The original inventors pay a small fee to post a challenge on Marblar’s website, using videos and slideshows to explain in plain English how their technology works. Geeks of all ages then submit their ideas about what it might be used for. Other users rate these before the inventors themselves pick the winner, who typically receives a cash prize of about £500 ($800). In future, says Daniel Perez, one of Marblar’s co-founders, winners may be invited to partner with the inventors and gain a stake in the commercialisation of their joint intellectual effort.

This is simply a brilliant idea, be sure to check out the website, Marblar