UW Business School Ties Up With Game Maker

 
 

The University of Washington is emerging as a pioneer in the emerging world of applying game technology to real life situations.

UW biochemists and computer scientists have been working for some time on ‘Foldit’, a game website now in beta, which allows any interested party to go online and play puzzle-like games while, in the process, helping to solve tough problems in molecular biology. 

 

Now UW’s Foster School of Business has established a strategic partnership with Novel, Inc. a pioneer in developing game-like simulations of what it's like to run a company. Brayden Olson, CEO of Novel Inc., says the partnership will help develop a new approach to teaching business management. 

 

In November, Novel completed Empire and State, a virtual on-line game that allows players to create and manage their own companies.

 

“Our shared goal with Novel is to become the undisputed heavy weights and thought leaders in the new enterprise simulations space,” says Dr. Bruce J. Avolio, executive director of the Foster School of Business Center for Leadership & Strategic thinking.

Avolio says that Novel is further along in this kind of enterprise simulation development and in their vision than any other company they know of. 

 

Mike Marr, Novel’s creative director, says Novel’s massive multiplayer game allows participants to explore, during a compressed time period, complex business situations involved in running a business. The outcomes of the decisions, which might play out over months or even years in real life, can be resolved in just thirty minutes while playing the game.

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.