Digital always is guiding principle at new innovation lab

A start-up at CBC’s French service, Radio-Canada, is demonstrating diverse ways of innovating from within.

RC Lab was created when Xavier Kronström Richard, then working in television news, got inspired by a visit to interactive conference South By Southwest. On his return he went straight to his boss, Thomas LeJouan, with the idea of creating an innovation lab.

The pair were further motivated by a New York Times virtual reality project with the tagline “see for yourself – put yourself at the center of our stories…”.

Officially known as the Digital R&D Lab, RC Lab was launched five years ago. Its aim – to introduce more digital creativity to the news arm of Radio-Canada.Radio-Canada encourages innovating at RC Lab

The pair started out tracking the work of other media outlets and soon evolved to doing their own experiments in digital storytelling.

“It’s not digital first. It’s digital always”, is their stated credo.

One of their projects is the Ideas Accelerator. Radio-Canada employees are invited to submit digital ideas which would be useful to the public broadcaster and can be prototyped.

After review by a jury followed by a public vote, the finalists are matched with developers (financed by the RC Lab) and given 90 days to make it happen.

A recent success story is Anonymous Source a platform that allows people to send sensitive information and documents to CBC journalists over the internet in a way that is secure, anonymous and free.  

The Ideas Accelerator has funding for four prototypes annually. It is in its fifth season on Radio-Canada and its second at CBC’s English service.

Another fun RC Lab project is a 360 virtual reality app that brings a popular radio program, La soirée est encore jeune, into people’s homes.

Successfully starting a new venture inside the bureaucratic, state-owned, funding-constrained behemoth that is the CBC can only be seen as a triumph.

Well done and bonne chance, RC Lab!

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