Sweden’s NetEnt has found an unique way to help consolidate its position as an industry pioneer, hosting an annual innovation week to develop and encourage a culture of innovation among its staff.

Google’s “20 per cent time” is rightly lauded as a major driver of innovation for the company and has led to the launch of some of its most successful products and services. Gmail, Google News, AdSense, all have emerged from this policy, which sees engineers spend 20 per cent of their work time working on projects that interest them.

Google’s former vice president of search products and user experience, and now Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, has even claimed that half of all new product launches in 2005 originated from this policy.

The online gaming industry praises innovation, but we are yet to see a similar policy adopted by many operators or suppliers, though this seems set to change with NetEnt’s innovation week. The company may only dedicate one week a year, rather than 20 per cent of total work time, but it is already paying dividends.

It sees figures from various industries come in to talk to NetEnt’s staff about noteworthy technologies and major changes in their sectors, as well as futurologists who predict the evolution of software and hardware development.

“We bring in people from different parts of the world,” NetEnt chief executive Per Eriksson explains. “It’s not just people from gaming and gambling, but also from other sectors, so we are not only looking into what is going on in our industry but also in others, because that is obviously important.”

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