Software tool to help government make IT investments

Two Canadian organizations have joined forces to create a knowledge management tool that centralizes the system of gathering and tracking intelligence on technology companies searching for government funding.

The Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI), an information

source in science, technology and medicine that’s part of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), and Sirsi Canada Inc., a software company that helps libraries connect to users, signed a two-year deal in an example of a public-private partnership.

“”This is an NRC project to help the IRAP (NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, comprised of government research facilities across Canada) business analysts to take good decisions about either if they will invest or not invest in a particular technology or (respond to a) financial help request from the enterprise,”” explained Louis-René Dessureault, national sales director of business solutions at Sirsi Canada in Brossard, Qué.

Dessureault said Ottawa-based CISTI will assist in gathering intelligence on Canadian entrepreneurs, which involves researching the company’s management, patents, competitors, and the overall product market, and provide IRAP business analysts with their “”conclusion on the proposed business project.””

If an innovative proposal to create a new chip in nanotechnology was put before IRAP, for example, but the company in question lags the progress of 12 companies already involved in research and development for this type of technology, IRAP is unlikely to bankroll the project, he said.

“”We’re not only looking at what’s retrospective, but also what is possible in the marketplace or what the marketplace could be asking in the future,”” added Bernard Dumouchel, director general of CISTI.

His group began its work in competitive technical intelligence about three years ago. As well as its know-how, CISTI also brings to the table client contacts that are direct users of this intelligence, initially addressing smaller firms, Dumouchel said.

He said the motivation to bring together the two groups was based on CISTI’s need to deploy its program on a larger scale and better serve a geographically dispersed organization.

CISTI, a strong believer in library-service innovation, especially in the science, technology and medical areas, was also keen to develop organization-wide common practices relating to the use of various information sources, techniques for interviewing companies and information provided to clients, Dumouchel explained.

Moreover, CISTI believes “”the tool that provides us with the ablity to share knowledge will actually yield much better results.””

Sirsi’s role in the relationship is to offer its 35 years of expertise in application and software development for public libraries, universities, government agencies and legal organizations, said Dessureault. Sirsi has 12 clients in the U.S. and six in Canada, although it cannot divulge names as most are in “”implementation mode.””

“”We have developed all kinds of different tools that help people to find information either from the library or outside of the library, meaning the Web,”” he said. The management tool Sirsi is building will be based on its Rooms technology, a three-year-old portal system still in its infancy.

Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Dumouchel said the groups have “”significant resources”” on hand to develop the tool, slated for release in winter 2005.

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