Thanks again to everyone who got involved in the 2011 Revenue Diversification process. Dozens of people participated, but I’d particularly like to thank Joy Hymel and Lynne Henkiel for co-chairing this year’s effort.
As reported earlier, the EI2-wide team narrowed down more than 140 suggestions to 11 finalists, then 11 individual project teams spent a month (April/May) refining those into business plans. Four of the teams reported back “no go”… meaning that, after significant diligence and competitive analysis, they didn’t think they could justify an investment of EI2‘s scarce funds.
These teams were not failures! It’s important to know when to say “No,” and I appreciate their willingness to overcome pride of authorship when the facts didn’t promise to quickly generate a new source of revenue for EI2 that could be sustained over the long term. (And at least two of these ideas turn out to be projects that should be pursued by other units at Georgia Tech, and we’re going to try hard to find them new homes.)
Of the remaining seven ideas, my senior management team and I listened, asked questions, debated… and ultimately chose to fund six in full or in part. The winners come from all across EI2 and represent a very diverse set of ideas. This year, winners came from Industry Services, AMAC, Strategic Partners, and Innovation Partners. There was even a GTRI connection with one of the winners!
Two projects were presented with enough detail that we chose to fund them without further diligence:
- Accessibility Consulting Services around the Student Accessibility Manager (SAM) product
Team Lead: Christopher Lee
- Economy, Energy and Environment (E3)
Team Lead: Bob Hitch
Four other projects were interesting enough to justify a small level of investment to prove out a market or to more fully specify a program:
- Employer-Driven Health Transformation
Team Leads: Sherry Farrugia & Don Betts
- Tourism and Regional Assistance
Team Lead: Ann O’Neill
- SBIR Partnerships
Team Lead: Connie Casteel
- Braille Service for the Packaging Industry
Team Lead: Carey Jackson
You’ll be hearing more about each of these projects as we move into our new fiscal year on July 1. In total, pursuing all six will cost EI2 a total of just over $250K in FY12, and we expect payback on some of them to start within the fiscal year. (We’ve reserved a bit more money for follow-on investments into one or more of the four “partial” projects in case they prove out to have traction.)
In the short term, we don’t expect these programs to make up for the state budget cuts which take effect on July 1. But, over the longer term, they’re an important part of reducing our dependence on the Board of Regents budget and becoming a more self-sustaining organization.
I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day holiday, and that you’re ready for a busy summer! As always, thanks for all you do.