Since it was established as an independent non-profit entity, the Business Innovation Factory has made great strides in putting innovation at the forefront of Rhode Island’s economic development agenda. With its current members, including American Power Conversion, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Citizens Bank, Cox Communications, Hasbro, IBM, Intel, Lifespan, Lucent Technologies, Metropolitan Life, Rhode Island Commodores, EDC, Rhode Island Policy Council, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, and UPS, BIF is creating programs and projects that redefine how value is delivered in areas such as health care, education, and security.
In 2005, BIF focused on several projects with broad-reaching impact:
- BIF is participating in a unique port-security communications demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Under a contract awarded to Smiths Detection Systems, BIF will partner with a team of communications and security experts, including Raytheon, Verizon Wireless, Stonecrop Technologies, and Newport-based LiveWave, to create a wireless broadband communications network. The network will allow government agencies and emergency personnel to share, distribute and use real-time text, voice and video data in Narragansett Bay. This effort has led to an $856,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) demonstration grant for a wireless communications system for first responders operating in Narragansett Bay.
- Through its collaborative innovation projects, BIF is setting a national example for how to use public/private partnerships to solve real-world problems. Launched in 2004, BIF’s Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks (RI-WINS) project seeks to create a statewide, border-to-border, wireless broadband network that breaks down barriers to innovation improves interoperability among new products and technologies, and establishes Rhode Island as an ideal place to explore and test new business models. In 2005, IBM, a global leader in building and integrating information systems, expanded its role in the RI-WINS partnership by serving as project manager of the RI-WINs pilot, the second phase of the RI-WINS effort to make Rhode Island the first state in the country with border-to-border broadband wireless coverage.
- In October, BIF hosted its first collaborative innovation summit. The BIF-1 Summit brought together representatives from such companies as CEOs for Cities, IBM, Council on Competitiveness, Intuit, Procter & Gamble, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as 150 local business and community leaders to discuss ways to increase collaboration and innovation.