An interesting approach to app development… reports on a competition, complete with 24-hour “hackathon,” for programmers to develop a new app for the Detroit Public Library . The competition is sponsored by Automation Alley, “a technology business association and business accelerator dedicated to growing the economy of Southeast Michigan.” Interested programmers and app developers could win a $5000 cash prize for creating the best app.

So here’s an example of a great outside-the-box partnership. Automation Alley gets a chance to encourage and promote app developers in their area. The developers might get $5000, and at least get a few meals and energy drinks during the hackathon as well as a chance to compete, show off what they can do, and have fun doing it. Detroit Public Library gets its app – probably a much cooler, more creative app than they would have gotten through a traditional development process. Everybody gets great exposure and press. Three cheers for Detroit!

So what crazy collaboration ideas does this give you? Do we get too locked in to traditional RFP and bid processes? Do we have to stay there?