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LinkedIn is catering to the entrepreneurially minded people on its team with a new program designed to advance great ideas they dream up in the workplace.

Appropriately called [in]cubator, the program allows employees to group together and pitch their big ideas to executives once a quarter. Should the team win the approbation of founder Reid Hoffman and co., the group will get to allocate up to three months of their time to bring the baby idea to life. They will also get weekly guidance from company executives, Hoffman included.

The safe cocoon was created after the company noticed that its monthly Friday “hackdays” were resulting in viable product prototypes, [in]cubator executive sponsor and LinkedIn engineering SVP Kevin Scott wrote in a blog post.

go/book, an [in]cubator idea

Above: go/book, an [in]cubator idea

“A group of our ‘hackday masters’ [employees who’ve won three-plus hackdays] came up with the concept of [in]cubator as a way to take hackdays to the next level. They evangelized the program internally, pitched the idea to the executive staff, got approval, and have been piloting the program for several months,” Scott said. “In a sense, [in]cubator was itself the first [in]cubator project, and has now opened the door for many more.”

To date, LinkedIn has approved five projects through the initial pilot of the [in]cubator program, one of them being an internal meeting scheduling tool called “go/book” that’s already in use. The smart booking system, which works across the company’s 26 offices, has done so well, Scott said, that it’s been approved for a second round of development.

LinkedIn certainly isn’t the first company to fund ideas spawned from inside the company. Chipmaker Qualcomm used to run an internal business plan competition called Qin, but it has just kicked off a new program called Impaqt. Currently in its first iteration, Impaqt encourages staffers to pitch ideas to a panel of experts. The best ideas get funding, moved to R&D, or incubated in Qualcomm Labs.

Photo credit: MarioSundar/Flickr

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