We're posting our application for the Open Science Prize here (on our own website). We would very much appreciate feedback from the community.
A few notes:
What is Thinklab?
Thinklab is a platform that facilitates two things:
We're creating Thinklab because we believe the interests of science and society are best served if the entire scientific process is open — not just the software, data, and papers produced at the end. And while we're convinced this kind of openness is in the best interests of science as a whole, we understand many scientists will not feel it's in their personal interests. That's why our goal is not just to facilitate open research, it's to actually create incentives for it.
Thinklab is intended for broad use across all of science, including biomedical research. An early version can be seen at thinklab.com.
Why grant proposals should be reviewed in the open
In conclusion, open review can improve research plans, reduce wasted resources, spread best practices, accelerate the exchange of ideas, and lead to more collaboration with less redundancy. In short, it should significantly accelerate scientific progress. Many of these ideas have been talked about by Daniel Mitchken: The Transformative Nature of Transparency in Research Funding 
But will scientists participate?
While it may be clear that having grant proposals reviewed in the open would be a very good thing for science, the question is: will scientists participate? Won't they be concerned about people stealing their ideas?
The answer is yes, many will be concerned. Scientists currently operate under a system that values the publication of papers in journals above all else. Under this system, keeping ideas secret is seen as a good strategy in the publish-or-perish game — a game that they're forced to play, but never asked to play. In our view, the solution to this predicament is clear: we need to change the rules of the game! We need to align the incentives of scientists with what's in the best interests of science and society as a whole.
Thinklab as a service for science funders
If our goal is to open up grant proposal review, we believe science funders are in the best position to do it. Funders can use the power of the purse to create new incentives and compel adoption of new behaviors. In fact, they're already doing it. Many funders have started to require that the results of the research they fund be made publicly available. That changes the game!
Thinklab wants to help funders take the next step. We want to help funders create grant programs that require openly posted proposals. In addition, we want to help them manage an open peer review process where anyone from the scientific community can share ideas and feedback to help improve research plans.
With that said, we recognize that persuading funders to try a different model of funding will be challenging. Fortunately, there's something we can do in the meantime: we can do everything we can to drive adoption by making Thinklab a valuable service for grant writers directly.
Thinklab as a service for grant writers
Benjamin Good suggested  that grant writers could use Thinklab to have their proposals openly reviewed prior to submission for funding. There are a number of benefits to this. In fact, we've used Thinklab to get feedback on the proposal you're reading right now! X reviewers provided feedback through a total of X annotations and X comments. You can take a look at the feedback we received here: think-lab.github.io/p/thinklab-prize.
Benefits for grant writers
How Thinklab works
Thinklab is a platform that facilitates open review of grant proposals, and real-time open science. All content and discussion posted to Thinklab is licensed CC-BY. Note that at this point the code that runs Thinklab itself is not open source.
The proposal review system
The review process:
When the review process is complete, the proposal authors (or designated reviewers if the review is on behalf of a funder) will rate the value of each reviewer's contributions. These ratings contribute to an impact points system that allows us to highlight the most impactful reviewers.
Figure 1. Proposal annotation options
This menu appears when proposal reviewers select text to make an annotation.
Real-time open science
When a proposal on Thinklab gets funded, the research team has the option to continue their work as an open research project. Researchers can engage the community by sharing ideas, project plans, updates, and questions in real-time as the project progresses. Reviewers that made valuable suggestions during the proposal stage can continue to share ideas and give feedback throughout the project.
The big payoff from open research comes not just from being open, it comes from the real-time collaboration that openness enables. It comes from bringing a cognitively diverse set of people together to tackle challenging problems. In support of this Thinklab is building a system that intelligently direct researcher attention to the exact discussions and problems that match their interests and areas of expertise. These ideas are described by Michael Nielsen in his book: Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science 
There's one big problem with this vision: there needs to be incentives for scientists to participate. There needs to be an incentive for researchers to share their work, and their needs to be an incentive for outside scientists to share feedback and insights when they have something valuable to add.
Benefits for reviewers/contributors
While we believe our impact points system will help create an incentive, we'd like to point out that it's extremely difficult to get scientists to take time away from their research, and share feedback and ideas on the work of their peers, over the internet . At the same time, we can all recognize how incredibly valuable it would be if they were to do so.
For these reasons, Thinklab proposes that science funders create an additional incentive. We propose that a portion of project grant money is set aside to reward feedback and ideas from scientists in the community. These monetary rewards could be applied at the proposal stage and/or the research stage. The system would piggy-back on the impact points system we've already discussed.
Finally, we want to emphasize that we consider monetary rewards to be an experiment, and that we see large value in the Thinklab even without them.
What will the prize money be used for?
Alternatives to Thinklab
Google Docs for open review of proposals
If a researcher wants to get feedback on a grant proposal, a common solution is to put it in Google Docs, and send it to colleagues. Here's why Thinklab is better:
GitHub as an electronic lab notebook
The Open Source Malaria project is using GitHub to openly manage their project. There's a lot to like about GitHub. But here's what Thinklab can offer:
Team and resources
Thinklab is founded by Jesse Spaulding. Jesse has a background in the startup world, and has founded and sold several startups. With no formal academic background, Jesse brings a fresh perspective to the challenges facing our scientific system. Jesse has been working with Gleb Pitsevich who has a broad background in mathematics, programming, and web development.
Thinklab is setup as a for-profit and we intend to use this status to attract talented people to help us pursue our mission. In the near term we're looking for a talented individual with a strong academic science or philanthropic background to join the team as a co-founder and lead business and community development.
Thinklab is a bold experiment in open science. We understand there's powerful incentives working against us. But we also understand the future of science is not a world where scientists continue to hoard knowledge and work in silos.
We believe Thinklab has a legitimate shot at opening up grant proposal review, and if we're able to do so, we believe the benefits will be enormous. Perhaps our most compelling argument is this: what we're doing has the potential to affect all of science. Anytime you can make changes that positively affect a system there's potential for massive impact. Given a wide variety of problems  in our current scientific system, isn't it worth experimenting with ways we might improve it?
PublishedFeb. 15, 2016
(Last updated March 25, 2017)
TopicsPeer reviewOpen scienceScience FundingOpen Notebook ScienceGrantmakingGrant Writing
Cite this asJesse Spaulding, Gleb Pitsevich (2016) Thinklab: A platform for open review of research grant proposals [proposal]. Thinklab. doi:10.15363/thinklab.a12