to be partner
in Internet center
By Susan Trulove
Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 01 - August 27, 1998
Virginia's Secretary of Commerce and Trade Barry E. DuVal and the director of Virginia's Center of Innovative Technology (CIT), Robert G. Templin Jr., have announced the establishment of an Internet Technology Innovation Center (ITIC).
According to the release from DuVal's office, the center will nurture Virginia's entrepreneurial environment for information technology and Internet-based businesses; accelerate the creation and deployment of network-based information technology; develop hardware/software infrastructure; and expand Virginia's high-skill workforce needed to develop, support, and market Internet-based electronic products and services.
The ITIC is a partnership of 12 research groups at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Christopher Newport University, and George Mason University. The CIT is providing $2 million in seed money over five years for the center.
"ITIC leverages the research-and-development strengths of the universities, the vision of CIT and its partners, and the business experience and entrepreneurial spirit of its commercial affiliates to achieve its mission," said Edward Fox, Virginia Tech professor of computer science. "We will provide a rapid-response team that can analyze a client company's problems, recommend solutions, provide on-demand training, develop rapid prototypes, and deliver commercial-grade products or services."
The first virtual center to be established by the CIT, the ITIC will be run by a governing board of two members from each institution. Initially, Fox and Scott Midkiff will be the board members representing Virginia Tech. The positions of director and associate director rotate on a two-year cycle among the institutions. The first ITIC director is Alfred C. Weaver, director of the Internet Commerce Group at the University of Virginia. Stephen Ruth of George Mason University's business school, is the first associate director. A full-time industry liaison will be hired for the center and an industry advisory board formed.
"A core activity of ITIC will be its interaction with existing companies and entrepreneurs who are seeking to provide or develop products and/or services for Internet delivery," said Thomas P. Caruso, industry program-development coordinator at Virginia Tech. "ITIC and its partners will consult with Virginia's companies to speed adoption of electronic commerce and network technology. We will consult with companies to help them evaluate, choose, fund, install, configure, and use Internet-based software in their enterprise. In particular, manufacturing companies will be targeted because they can improve their competitive position by using this technology."
"Technology training is also critical, not only to serve a growing business sector, but to make sure that Virginians won't lose high-wage technology jobs to other countries," said Anne Moore, director of the Center for Innovation in Learning at Virginia Tech. "Through a combination of short courses taught at the universities or on-site for industrial customers, and the extensive development of on-line education and training courses, we can provide just-in-time education, workforce retooling, and education-to-the-desktop for our corporate clients."
The universities' researchers are already creating and transferring innovative applications for the commercial sector in critical areas such as electronic commerce, multi-media collaboration tools, information storage and retrieval, virtual environments, and human/computer interfaces; developing advanced Internet architectures and deploying high-speed, low-cost, and/or mobile-network-access technologies; and establishing application demonstration facilities, as well as other training and educational programs that teach the science, engineering, business, and communications skills that companies require.
"Our industry liaison will be working full-time to bring together companies working in the Internet field with university partners who have Internet expertise. Our rapid-response-team concept is focused on industry problems," Caruso said.
"We will use our combined research and development expertise to advance the state of the art in wireless, mobile, and fiber-optic communications technologies, as well as computing software and hardware, and to deploy the tools of electronic commerce to industry," Fox said. "With more than 80 percent of Blacksburg residents already on the Internet, the Virginia Tech team is ideally poised to help ITIC lead Virginia to be a world-wide center for the Internet."
The ITIC partners are: at U.Va., the Internet Commerce Group (InterCom) and Internet Digital Library; at George Mason, the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology (ICASIT) and the Internet Multimedia Center (ICM); at Christopher Newport, the Virginia Electronic Commerce Technology Center (VECTEC) and the Southeastern Virginia Network (SEVAnet); and at Virginia Tech, the Digital Library Research Laboratory (DLRL), NET.WORK.VIRGINIA, Center for Wireless Communications (CWT), Center for Innovation in Learning (CIL), Fiber and Electro-Optics Research Center (FEORC), and the Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG).