Blazing Trails with Michael Ricciardi

It's no secret that innovation is the driving force behind all technological advancements and human creation. Every aspect of our world constantly evolves, from medicine, energy, and space to art, thanks to innovative breakthroughs. The future belongs to those who can think outside the box and push the boundaries of what's possible. An innovator by the name of Michael Ricciardi integrates creativity and enjoyment into his pursuit of knowledge, art, and innovation. His approach reminds us that learning and exploring new ideas can also be a joyful and fulfilling experience.

Meet: Michael Ricciardi

Michael, born in Worcester, Massachusetts (currently living in Seattle), has successfully solved open innovation challenges since 2011 but started in 2008. He has honed his skills and has become quite the master at tackling these challenges. With 12 winning proposals and six short-listed proposals across 4 Open Innovation platforms, including InnoCentive, OpenIDEO, HeroX, and XPrize, it's clear that he's a talented and dedicated innovator. That impressive track record speaks about his creativity and problem-solving skills. In 2022, Michael was recently honored to be selected as one of the five winning space game designers in the inaugural #EqualSpace Space Games Challenge sponsored by the Space Games Federation. It was an incredible experience for his work to be recognized and to have the opportunity to showcase his skills in this exciting field. The competition was tough, but he created a game that captured the essence of fun in space and zero-G. Michael proposed a new sport called ZeroGordian, where two-member teams of astronauts who are tethered together in micro-gravity are challenged to tie increasingly complex knots in the tether that links them. The game was inspired by a Space-based anxiety dream he had.

It's remarkable to witness individuals who excel in multiple areas of interest. Michael is one of those individuals, not only a talented individual but an award-winning multi-media artist who has received two grants from the former Paul G. Allen Foundation for the Arts between 2001 and 2003. He is a semi-retired science writer for print magazines and blogs and a poet with many poems published by journals, anthologies, and websites.

Inspired to Join HeroX

When asked what inspired him to join the HeroX community of Innovators, Michael said, “I discovered HeroX sometime around 2017 or so, having first heard about it on other OI forums. I was impressed with the range of challenges -- most especially several from NASA. In fact, my lifelong desire to contribute to Space exploration is what drove me to the HeroX site initially. It took over two years before achieving my first successful (awarded) proposal (though with two semi-finalist props prior to that), which focused on Climate Change 'collective action' (and actually sponsored by a former NASA engineer). I won my first NASA-sponsored challenge ('Waste2Base  Materials' 'Trash' category in June of 2022). I continue to check out HeroX challenges routinely, always on the lookout for that 'perfect' challenge that is best suited to my knowledge base and creative mindset.”

Proud Moments in Michael’s Career

Michael takes pride in his contributions to open innovation, particularly in global health, nuclear arms inspection, treaty compliance, climate change awareness, and space exploration. Michael also conveyed his satisfaction regarding work created in 2002 and 2003. This piece of art was backed by the Paul G. Allen Foundation and presented to audiences at both the Seattle Poetry Festival and Bumbershoot Arts Festival. It is an exhibition called “Future For WORD” about new and unique ways of conveying new media and experimental poetics. It was mentioned that “The core installation of this exhibition was the designing and building of the Dynamic Visual Poetry Landscape System (DVPLS) -- a one-of-a-kind fusion of Speech Recognition, Virtual Environment, and 3D CGI (essentially, a machine that turns speech into 3D visual-kinetic poetry) effected through an Art & Technology collaboration with artist and software engineer Peter Oppenheimer”.

The website and short documentary of the exhibition are available at and a mini-documentary on the DVPLS installation can be found on YouTube.

An Innovation Superstar

Michael’s dedication and hard work paid off, as he has achieved some truly impressive outcomes by participating in several challenges on HeroX. In 2019, Michael was declared the first-place winner of two awarded solvers for his proposal in the 'Alternative to Fear - Stimulating Collective Climate Action Buy-in' challenge, and in 2022, he was recognized as one of the winners for his 'Waste2Base Materials' proposal. Additionally, in 2018, Michael was chosen as one of the 13 semi-finalists in the 'It Doesn't Take a Brain Surgeon' challenge. Michael's accomplishments are truly remarkable! He has achieved success through his persistent effort and hard work. This demonstrates his innovative thinking and dedication to making a positive impact.

Michael's impressive track record in open innovation makes him an Innovation Superstar. He has a wide range of creative imagination and broad intellectual interests, which sets him apart. Michael is a master of innovation and can think outside the box, bringing new and unique ideas to the table. His ability to collaborate and work with others is also critical to his success. Michael is an inspiration to many, and his contributions to the field of innovation are truly remarkable.

Exciting Opportunities and Connections

“I received an Invitation to be interviewed for the Web documentary 'We Are Solvers' (2015; Georgia Mihalcea, producer/host). Invitation to join the XPrize community design forum (2018-2019), where I contributed to the XPrize Rain Forest Exploration Challenge 'road map' (published in 2019) and several other proposed challenges. While volunteering and working on this forum, a winning 'quick pitch' challenge proposal (for the proposed Longevity XPrize) led to an invitation to attend the 2019 XPrize 'Visioneers' party in Los Angeles. Plus, I am going to Space! (Ok, just kidding, there).”

Learning about Michael's past as a magician and sleight-of-hand artist from 1978 to 1993 and his participation in the Seattle National Poetry Slam Team in 1998. His life has been filled with a multitude of exciting and unique experiences. Throughout his life, he has been blessed with a multitude of unique and captivating experiences that have undoubtedly shaped him into the remarkable individual he is today. From these experiences, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that has inspired him to live life to the fullest and embrace every opportunity that comes his way. His journey is a testament to the power of chasing your dreams and living life with curiosity and wonder.
Michael reaches out to the brilliant minds within our community, delivering a message that is sure to spark inspiration. He says, “Read everything you and tech news, for sure, but read Arts and culture news, too, even financial and political never know where you'll find that key innovation or crucial detail that will trigger an ideational breakthrough and lead to a successful proposal.”

You can find Michael on LinkedIn at Michael Ricciardi and his website at


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