Program unites professors with data for models

By Molly Packer

The Hankamer School of Business is launching the Innovative Business Accelerator, a collaborative research effort between industries and Baylor professors that will bring together researchers and data in an innovative way.

The Innovative Business Accelerator will allow companies to exchange financial support for three years of a Baylor professor’s research. The research that Baylor professors do will help companies revise business habits and become more effective in their services.

“[The Innovative Business Accelerator] links business researchers with the company and they coordinate that effort,” said Dr. Morris George, assistant professor of marketing and one of the developers of the Innovative Business Accelerator. “Companies get research and better practices. We, in turn, get real-life data.”

Dr. Jeff Tanner, Baylor marketing professor and associate dean of faculty development and research, calls the Innovative Business Accelerator an opportunity for professors to own commercialized intellectual property.

One of the first companies to participate in the Innovative Business Accelerator, Viverae assists businesses in improving the health of their employees in order to lower health care providing costs.

George is helping to develop a business model that will reduce client costs.

Viverae searched for medical experts to make its health care services more effective, but soon discovered they did not need medical experts.

“[Companies] thought they needed medical researchers. They needed business models,” Tanner said. “What [Viverae] is trying to do is find actions that will have the biggest impact and model that big impact on people’s lives.”

It is the researchers’ job to develop business models that will help companies work more efficiently.

Baylor professors will develop those models in exchange for business data.

Viverae is not the only company looking to participate in the Innovative Business Accelerator. ESET, an Internet security company has also shown interest.

Real-life data is especially hard to acquire in the realm of Internet security because there are many laws protecting such information from scams.

The Innovative Business Accelerator’s research with ESET will give Baylor professors a chance to work with data that otherwise would be hard to obtain.

Dr. Randy Vaughn, professor of Information Systems, specializes in counter electronic crime.

“[The Innovative Business Accelerator will connect] industry and university together where they can develop a more scientific approach to targeting crime,” Vaughn said. “We get fresh data. The anti-virus [companies] have huge databases and huge visibility into e-crime.”

The Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative will house Innovative Business Accelerator projects. The building is scheduled to be completed in March 2012.

“The goal is that 20 to 30 companies would invest into the Innovative Business Accelerator and want the faculty researching,” Tanner said. “We want to be able to cherry pick the best projects for the best faculty.”