Select Ideas to Fund for Next Round
Think of TV like America's Got Talent or American Idol. These shows are much like an innovation challenge. They start with a very large number of hopeful contestants, some wild and some amazing. Through rounds of competition the best acts get moved to the next rounds of the competition. They are also given coaching and some additional money for set development and backup performers.
Similarly, your innovation challenge will have multiple rounds and you too will have to sort through the wild and the amazing to get to the vital few solutions that will eventually get funded and implemented. Like the TV show, you are well advised to provide additional time and funding to further refine and polish solutions before they go through the subsequent rounds of increased scrutiny.
Set Parameters for Next Round (Time, Funding)
Be sure to set some parameter about the amount of time and funding that will be available for participants to enhance their ideas prior to the next round of evaluations.
Provide Suggestions to Step up the Quality of Entries
Let the participants know that you are looking for increased quality in the later evaluation rounds
Allow New Solutions or Combinations of Entries
You may also want to consider selecting solutions where there was a cluster of submissions, but no clear winner. Sometimes forming a new group or combining a few groups can be a way to bring the best out of the mediocre but potentially winning solutions. It is also possible to combine different groups with different solutions to form a new team with a combination of some key elements from each.
Repeat as Necessary
Ideally your screening process is rigorous enough to get to the vital few winning solutions in two or three rounds total.