What exactly happens in the wavespace?
Desmet: "This is a place for open innovation, where we organize hackathons or brainstorms, for example. Here, start-ups and large companies can get to know each other and exchange ideas. This setting inspires innovation. In the wavespace you can write on the wall or get to work with Lego. Of course you can brainstorm anywhere, but you get far fewer results in your normal office than in the wavespace."
"You get a very different dynamic here. That is why our team also consists of people you don't traditionally find at EY: hackers, software developers, designers, etc. They support the teams that are working internally or externally on innovation. At the same time I can reassure the established values. Compared to a traditional incubator or accelerator, it is all a bit more defined here. We have monitored the balance: both groups feel at home here. No empty pizza boxes are lying around (laughs)."
Christiaens: "Large companies are increasingly realizing that they need a broad perspective. Just looking at their sector is no longer sufficient. They also don't need us for that. They want to learn from others, from other sectors, and also from the younger companies. Those often come with innovative and creative ideas. And so we help those multinationals to think out of the box and see how additional value can be created, and this supported by technology."
Are Belgian companies ready for that?
Christiaens: "This out-of-the-box approach is opposite to the traditional mentality that every hour spent must produce a yield. Here, companies get oxygen. The new ideas come naturally when they brainstorm for a day, or even a few hours, outside their familiar nest, inspired by us and others. You can't usually quantify that, but they still feel the vibe. They often end up with us afterwards and we help them give concrete shape to their ideas."
Does this wavespace belong to an international network?
Desmet: "That's right; each of the 19 international labs has its own focus. In Antwerp this is open innovation and agile finance, in Paris cyber security and in Madrid artificial intelligence. There are differences, but there is also uniformity, which means we can work together efficiently. The technology that you see here can also be found elsewhere and can be easily connected, allowing us to truly immerse ourselves, even across physical regions and time zones."