And the ChemDraw Innovation Challenge Winner Is…


Back at the beginning of the year, we were curious: what would the million-plus users of ChemDraw add to the premier chemical drawing platform to help them do better science? So we asked them, launching the first-ever ChemDraw Innovation Challenge in March.

The ChemDraw Innovation Challenge

The Challenge - which concluded in June - was a tremendous success. From nearly 1,000 participants in 88 countries who supplied more than 300 ideas, we engaged in peer collaboration and voting, expert panel review, and pairwise testing before selecting not just one, but four winning ideas and seven Honorable Mentions. 

The ideas - with 305 initially submitted - ran the gauntlet of the Innovation Challenge’s review process . After eight weeks of collecting ideas and evaluating for feasibility, 261 advanced to the collaboration phase - in which anyone who contributed an idea could remark on, build upon, and then vote for the ideas presented by others. From these refined ideas, 67 advanced by a vote of the Challenge Community to a review panel of experts from within PerkinElmer. 

The expert reviewers scored the ideas based on criteria, ranging from feasibility to impact on the chemistry and biology community, to further pare down the list to 47 ideas. The Challenge Community then voted to identify the Top 10 finalists, and the expert panel selected the winners from this list. 

Honorable Mentions went to individuals selected as Expert Panel Favorites (3), Top Innovators (2) for generating the most ideas, and Top Contributors (2) for being most involved in voting, commenting, and contributing to the development of other ideas.

The Challenge Winners

Reaction Condition Arrow
Ehsan Fereyduni, a graduate student/research assistant at the University of Florida, won for his idea to simply right-click on the reaction condition arrow to be able to enter data on reagents, solvents, temperature, etc. and for ChemDraw to automatically fit them on the arrow. This saves users from manually adjusting the reaction condition - especially when you have more than 100 reactions to report.

Enhanced Structure Clean-Up
Wayne Mascarella, a senior chemist at RTI International, submitted a winning idea that would allow the enhanced clean-up of structures relative to a user-defined template so that small variations in drawn ring systems could be forced into a consistent appearance.

Atom Numbering
S. Barrie Walker, a consultant in chemical information, data, and databases, suggests ChemDraw show atom numbering as used in chemical names. When a structure is drawn and then named, ChemDraw could provide a toggle switch to turn on atom numbering - which is particularly useful for larger molecules.

Smarter Structure Perspective
Alex Stirk, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, won for his idea to change the center of rotation for a smarter structure perspective. It’s a better way to help draw 2D representations of complex 3D constructs.


The Hall of Fame

These four Challenge winners will be entered into the ChemDraw Hall of Fame, along with the Honorable Mention recipients:

  • Expert Panel Favorites:  Jennifer Beveridge, Tim Williams, Linda Press
  • Top Innovators: Bharat Kumar Allam, Luc Boisvert
  • Top Contributors: Nicholas Ondich, Leo Betschart 

This new Hall of Fame will be a virtual presence on PerkinElmer’s website, to honor the contributions of Challenge winners and others in advancing the legendary drawing tool.

From Challenged to Changed

PerkinElmer is committed to building out the winning ideas in future versions of ChemDraw - as well as several of the other ideas generated by the Innovation Challenge.

“The ideas submitted through the Challenge were truly of high caliber, and I’m sure our ChemDraw development team will be excited to bring many of these innovations to life in future releases of ChemDraw,” said Philip Skinner, product manager of PerkinElmer Informatics chemistry portfolio. “We’ll be able to draw from these ideas and build out the product roadmap for some time to come. It is always rewarding to incorporate user feedback into the product, but this has been a uniquely fun experience for us — and I think for our user community too.”

Leo Betschart, a Top Contributor Honorable Mention recipient, agrees. “It was a pleasure to participate for two reasons,” he says. “First, to learn what other people think about ChemDraw and to see which direction they would like to see it headed, and second, for me to voice some aspects of ChemDraw that I would like to see addressed.”

ChemDraw – 32 Years Old and Going Strong

“At 32, ChemDraw is going strong,” says Michael Swartz, Vice President of Business Development for Informatics at PerkinElmer. “We recognize it wouldn’t be what it is today without the support and involvement of our million-strong user community. Hosting the Innovation Challenge leveraged the enthusiasm of our users, and the open and collaborative approach to problem-solving and software development, to ensure many more decades of success for ChemDraw and its users.”

Click on the below image to access the "ChemDraw Hall of Fame"