Shooting Pool on the Medical Campus

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 7:41 AM EDT

By WKBW News

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 7:41 AM EDT

Rather than spend eight hours in a cubicle or behind a desk, workers at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. are encouraged to team up to share ideas and be creative.

"We have a lot of soft seating areas where they can sit down," said COO Patrick Whalen. "There's usually a white board nearby so they can draw what their idea is."

Meetings are also held around a pool table on the first floor of the Innovation Center or in the midst of an Xbox Kinect game. According to Whalen, such informal settings drive productivity.

"They can go down to the Kinect game and play virtual tennis or go down and play real pool at the pool table," he said. "It's just something to get people together and to get them to collaborate."

Sometimes co-workers take part in the games. Other times you'll find people from different companies discussing business deals and ideas - the Innovation Center is home to nearly 30 businesses, most of them startups.

"The idea behind this building and the Innovation Center on the medical campus is to house early-stage companies," Whalen said. "So the idea is to provide a lot of common space, collaborative common space, where people can sit down and mull over ideas."

He said many researchers work odd hours or long hours, sometimes at night and on weekends, so the amenities are also used at break time.

BNMC Inc. is responsible for coordinating activities across the 120 acres of the medical campus. It employs less than 20 people who facilitate collaboration among member institutions and help create a "distinct environment" on the campus. So they take part in a weekly "ideas meeting," which is where many unique workplace practices were born.

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