Welcome to Inside EI2!

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Inside EI2, our new and improved internal newsletter. As mentioned at the quarterly meeting last week, this newsletter will serve as a clearinghouse for internally-focused information. Although the newsletter will be published on a monthly basis, we still think it will provide you with the timely information you need, and hope it will promote dialogue throughout the organization. (Please, use the comment sections to post your thoughts or suggestions!) Or, feel free to contact me or Nancy Fullbright with story ideas and suggestions for improvement as we go along.

First, I’d like to thank everyone for their continued frugality in the face of state budget cuts. As you know, we’ve been asked to take a 4 percent “holdback” (which means “cut”) already this fiscal year. But due to your ability to hold the line on costs, plus some advanced planning by EI2 management, we’ve been able to absorb this cut with no real effect on staffing or operations.

Second, I’d like to encourage everyone not to panic as they read the story of the meltdown in Georgia’s public finances. I’m not going to pretend that state funding is going to return to the “good old days” of only three years ago. Georgia’s funding for discretionary items — like higher education, and economic development activities — will be under continued stress for years to come. But EI2 has recognized and adapted to the changes. We’re increasing our proportion of federal contracts. And we’re accelerating a number of private-sector contracts and governmental opportunities outside of Georgia… some based on the revenue diversification efforts of many of you earlier this year.

We’ve made some difficult adjustments, but I believe the worst is behind us, and FY2011 has the potential to be a very good year for EI2.

Bill Meffert’s energy and sustainability practice continues to attract new clients; its reputation has been enhanced by our role in shaping ISO 50001, the new international standard for energy management. This will continue to be a growth area for EI2, and is one of the keystones of our revenue diversification plan.

And although Georgia Tech did not win the $122 million Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) contract — it went to Penn State — this remains a core focus for Georgia Tech. Charles Ross and Chris Downing are briefing President Peterson on what we learned during the proposal process, and how Georgia Tech can build a successful research and consulting enterprise based around improving energy efficiency in buildings.

Our other revenue diversification programs are proceeding as planned. Lynne Henkiel’s program — Technology Innovation Practices — will include multiple facets of new business incubation, including helping a community decide if a new business incubator program is right for it. And under Chuck Schadl’s leadership, EI2 will begin offering training classes to federal contracting officials, all of whom are required to attend a certain number of hours of training annually to maintain professional certifications. Chuck’s group also just received a $100,000 award from the city of Albany to help with its procurement work.

Our new health care practice is establishing itself under Steve Rushing. Creation of electronic medical records and linking them through regional health information exchanges is one of the priorities for the nation as we work to control health care costs. Georgia Tech has become a trusted advisor for the state of Georgia’s Department of Community Health, and is under contract to develop the architecture for Georgia’s health information exchange. All such federally-supported exchanges, which will transfer medical records between physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers, will be based on data-exchange standards developed at GTRI.

Likewise, we’re under contract with the National Center for Primary Care (located at Morehouse School of Medicine) for a new regional extension program. In September, we’ll kick off a series of informational sessions for hospitals and physicians in the western and southern parts of Georgia, where we are responsible for educating, planning, and implementing the “meaningful use” of electronic medical records.

In addition, the Global Center for Medical Innovation – a partnership of Georgia Tech, Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute, Piedmont Healthcare and the Georgia Research Alliance and headed up by Wayne Hodges – was recently awarded a total of $2.6 million to build and equip a prototyping design and development facility that will accelerate the commercialization of next-generation medical devices and technology. EI2 is well positioned to continue making important contributions to health care in Georgia.

We welcomed AMAC (Alternative Media Access Center) to EI2 in July, and it is growing its client base rapidly. And most other sectors of EI2 are healthy, with new clients and new contracts.

Thanks for all of your hard work, focus, and creativity. I’m just past my one-year mark in this job, and I continue to be impressed by all that I discover within this organization.

I hope you enjoy the first issue of our newsletter, and please give us feedback!