Atlantic Lottery Corporation hits the jackpot in Halifax’s Innovation District

February 19, 2019

ALC Outpost team

Jean Marc Landry, VP of Innovation and Renewal at the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) joined the team in 2005 with a focus on product development. When he was asked to set up an innovation team in the company in 2015, he was thrilled. “For ALC, innovation isn’t just a program or team. It’s central to our strategy. The market is changing so rapidly, and we need to keep pace. The coolest part of my job is that we’re constantly living in the art of the possible.”

ALC’s more than 600 employees throughout the region operate lottery on behalf of the four Atlantic provinces. Lottery is regulated at the provincial government level, and all four provinces collaborate to implement one lottery corporation on their behalf. Nearly $10 billion in profits have gone back into the region’s economy in the past 40 years.

ALC’s innovation team leads catalyst programs to train everyone in the company to think innovatively. “The program is a design thinking approach that can be used for any project. Whatever the problem, you can use this approach. It’s become a part of our culture.”

True to this innovative culture, ALC opened its Outpost Lab in Volta three years ago, a separate working space from its head office. The Outpost Labs allows ALC to quickly develop new products for testing without incurring high costs to the company. If a product is successful in the testing phase, they quickly scale up and deploy. “The Outpost Lab allows us to be much quicker and more efficient, especially if new products don’t quite hit the mark in the testing phase.”

The Outpost Lab consists of three developers, a digital designer, and a product lead. The team has built eight proof of concepts – a test that helps ALC understand the feasibility of an idea – and fully developed products that have been tested in market. They experiment with new technologies including virtual reality, block chain, and natural language processing.

Operating out of Volta, in the heart of Halifax’s Innovation District, has been beneficial for ALC. “There are two major benefits to being a part of Volta’s ecosystem. The first is the collaboration and collision with other startups. If you share an idea with another person, they might ask the right question or give the right input. This happens day-to-day.” One example was a connection made with Venture for Canada, which is known for its fellowship program for recent graduates looking to develop entrepreneurial skills in a startup environment. They introduced and connected ALC’s Outpost Lab to a graduate who was then hired as their new product designer.

“The second is being a part of Volta’s events. I was in Halifax in January and participated in a corporate innovation roundtable where we shared experiences with innovation and what we’ve learned. These events build a community of corporate innovation professionals and companies. It’s a huge benefit when you not only get to meet, but also exchange ideas with other innovation professionals.”

ALC’s Outpost Lab’s website features information on their projects, including PoolParty, a tool to help keep track of draws, deposits and winnings in an office lottery pool. “Soon we’ll be piloting Game Lab, a suite of up to six digital instant games targeted at the millennial demographic. They have a bit of a tongue-in-the-cheek personality.”

Through their Outpost Lab and Volta, ALC has also hosted a number of hackathons. From February 8 to 11, the Outpost Lab hosted its first pan-Atlantic hackathon out of Halifax, happening concurrently in all four provinces. Jean Marc says these hackathons are a great way for ALC to engage young professionals and is a good learning tool for them.

“We love our presence in Halifax. For ALC, Halifax is our biggest market so having a strong presence in the city is strategically important to the company. Not only that, Halifax is at the leading edge of Atlantic Canada’s future in terms of youth retention, diversity, and adoption of technology.” ALC recently opened its new office and street front retail space in the Nova Centre, where customers can purchase ALC products and winners can claim prizes.

To learn more, visit the Outpost Lab’s website and read Jean Marc’s Innovator’s Checklist.