Convinced that cash prizes stimulate innovation, the CEO of one Bellevue, Wash.-based technology firm is giving $100,000 to employees with great ideas.
Naveen Jain is the CEO of Intelius, which provides online information about people to businesses. In addition, he sits on the board of the X Prize Foundation, a non-profit group that organizes public competitions with multi-million dollar prizes aimed at advancing technology.
The success of the X Prize recently prompted Jain to bring innovation-based contests to his own business. Last year, Intelius held its first-annual "iPrize," a company-wide competition that invites staff to submit ideas for cost-saving measures and new products.
A panel of Intelius executives judges the ideas, which can be submitted by teams of up to 10 employees. First place receives a check from Intelius for $50,000, second place gets $20,000, third place wins $10,000 and ten "finalists" are each awarded $2,000.
Now in its second year, the number of staff submissions for the iPrize has nearly doubled, Intelius executives told The Huffington Post. The company estimates that nearly half its 170 employees have entered an idea into the annual competition.
Winning ideas last year included software for Intelius salespeople and a consumer-facing mobile app that allows users to stake their online reputations on product recommendations.
Whether Intelius' iPrize generates ideas that ultimately boost its bottom line remains to be seen, but there's no question that contests aimed at spurring innovation and fostering entrepreneurship within corporations are en vogue, especially as nimble startups nip at their heels.
Recent research by the consulting firm McKinsey found that while today's best-known prizes, such as the Nobel Prize or the Pulitzer, are based on past achievement, an increasing share of prizes look to the future.
Before 1991, 97 percent of prize money was offered for past achievements, according to the report. However, since then, 78 percent of new prize capital has been offered for the future solutions of problems.
Does your company hold firm-wide competitions to generate new ideas and inspire staff?