All articles

Labs awards prize money for employee innovation

November 01, 2017

Labs awards prize money for employee innovation

“It’s very easy to get lost in day-to-day firefighting and project delivery,” explained Tcha Wilson, Head of IT Operations at Labs, when asked the reason behind the Innovation Award. “It’s nice to be able to step back and consider how things can be made better every now and then.”

And who doesn’t like prize money?

A panel of four judges sorted through 24 entries from 19 different employees to award cash prizes for the most innovative problem/solution ideas. “We were extremely pleased with the suggestions and it was very hard to pick a winner,” said Morgan Sowden, CTO of Labs.

Among the winning entries was a system for transforming sales data into useable decision making tools through machine learning. The judges also selected an idea for a way of providing new starters with answers to their most commonly asked questions.

Data Scientist Alvaro Duran-Barata, whose machine learning suggestion gained him the £500 first prize, said the idea came to him during his first couple weeks at Labs while shadowing the sales team. “But I never thought of sharing [the idea] before the Innovation Award came along.”

Desktop Support Engineer Ali Sultani took home the £250 second prize. “I feel proud that we have such a programme,” stated Ali. “People get the opportunity to say what they see as a problem, what they think can address the problem, and more importantly get time to implement their idea.”

Along with the prize money, all winners are granted 10% of their workweek for developing and implementing the ideas. Claude-Alice Konda, one of the winners tying for third prize, stated that having time to work on her award-winning idea allows her to challenge herself with the implementation and not take the easy path.

“There are lots of ideas being lost in organisations because employees are not encouraged to share them,” said Alvaro, who joined Labs just eight weeks before the competition. Labs’ openness to new ideas was one of the reasons the company attracted him, he says. “I truly believe that is what sets good companies apart from the rest.”

As for his first-place win, Alvaro says he is still astonished. “There are loads of smart people here. I was surprised my idea was given first-place among so many good ideas.”