Venture SpiritAs soon as I had collected my thoughts about a more engaging way to foster innovation in an organization and published The Venture Capital Model for Innovation in Organizations, the Belgian consulting and innovation solution company Venture Spirit replied and told me: "We have what you are looking for!" No way! As if they could read my mind.

Stefan Triest, General Manager of Venture Spirit, walked me through their innovation platform and service that is an online business game, where employees fill out the roles of three types participants: investors, entrepreneurs and talents (or experts). A typical "game" runs for three to four months, and employees can join the game regardless of their function or location. In a completely self-organizing way employees are encouraged to collaborate and share knowledge on ideas and invest in them and find resources. At the end a ranking of ideas (or plans as they call it) is provided through the investments done by the players.

Independent of the employees' function in the organization, their ideas are ranked by "pure capitalist greed": what do the investors see as the best opportunity to increase their investment? An important aspect, given that traditionally influences like internal company politics, the opinion of the highest paid person in the room and other biasing factors, can distort the outcome for innovation.

Venture Spirit was born through a students competition in 2009 called "Battle of Talents" (watch the movie), where in this annual contest the most promising entrepreneurial talents were rewarded. In late 20120 Venture Spirit was founded, and since then it has been used by Philips, Johnson & Johnson, Alcatel Lucent, Barco and other companies. Employee participation in the Venture Spirit events for some companies skyrocketed from a targeted 10% to 30% points. Typically 20% of the employees participate, according to Stefan. Company managers who monitored the competition were taken by surprise by the engagement level of their employees. "Are these really our employees?" some managers were overheard reflecting emotionally on what they were seeing.  

Venture Spirit platform is delivered today as a turnkey project, with a cloud based game platform.

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