Future Directions Handbook


Revised 5 February 2020 to reflect new FDC funding model.

IEEE has many different funding sources; one of which is through the Technical Activities budget, and another is through the IEEE New Initiative Committee. FDC does not maintain the status of a profit and loss center, therefore funding is provided on a yearly basis through multiple potential sources  

Sources of Funding

IEEE supports work in future technologies or areas of interest it considers vital to the interest of the IEEE by one or more of the following:

  1. IEEE BOD directly funds initiatives (Typically Incubation and Initiative phases)
  2. IEEE BOD delegates the oversight and funding through its New Initiatives Committee (NIC) (Typically Incubation, Initiative phases, but can support special projects or events during the Post Initiative phase)
  3. IEEE BOD through the efforts of its Technical Activity Board (TAB) Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) (Typically Incubation and Initiative phases)
  4. External funds, grants, other sources.

Note: Besides sources of funding directly associated with the IEEE BOD, individual Societies within the IEEE can internally fund initiatives as well, but those funds tend to be limited and rarely is this method used. Additionally funding can be available through activities or assets created in the Incubation, Initiative, and Post Initiative phases.

Phases and Types of Funding

As a rule, most initiatives follow 4 phases of lifecycle, which normally follow sequentially from phase to phase. Typically only during phase 1 and 2 does funding management of FDC initiatives come under the purview of the FDC. The phases, timing, sources, and types of funding are

  1. Seed/ Graduated Initiative Funding – 1 year
  2. Initiative – 3 years
  3. Post Initiative – Ongoing /Incorporation into Institute
  4. Sunset – Discontinued or absorbed into different form

Funding Models and Process

The funding models available to the Future Directions Committee (FDC) initiatives are not standardized. They are however typically funded through three basic funding models: TAB, NIC and Internal Revenue Generation. These models may be used separately or together to fund initiatives.

The descriptions of the three basic funding models, the two main funding organizations, and their basic rules and requirements are listed immediately below:

Technical Activity Board (TAB) Funding:

Please see: https://www.ieee.org/documents/tab_operations_manual.pdf page 110

The principal financial support for the IEEE Future Directions Committee is provided through the normal budgetary processes of the Technical Activities Board; as such it is at the discretion of TAB to delegate funds to initiatives if non discretionary funds become available. These funds are directly tied to availability based upon the current  needs of Technical Activities (TA) versus any surplus funds that may be available.

(TAB) Seed / Graduated Initiative Funding:  

Two types of funding are supported by this particular proposal process: 

  1. Seed Funding: Offered for new and innovative projects that have not been formerly funded by IEEE FDC, up to $50,000 USD for fiscal year of proposal 
  2. Graduated Initiative Funding: For former IEEE Future Directions Initiatives that have graduated and are seeking additional funding support, up to $50,000 for fiscal year of proposal.

See IEEE Future Directions Funding Opportunities for more detailed information on this proposal process.

(TAB) Initiative Funding:

Allocations for each initiative are determined from the overall Future Directions TAB budget. The budget is set on a yearly basis within TAB. The budget is reviewed on a regular basis with consideration of actual spending and forecast. Adjustments may be made accordingly within the overall budget.  

New Initiatives Committee (NIC) Funding:

Please see: https://www.ieee.org/documents/NIC_Operations_Manual_Nov_2016.pdf pages 5-9

The new initiatives program is designed to support potential new programs, products, or services that are of strategic importance to IEEE and will provide significant benefit to IEEE members, the public, the technical community, and customers, or which could have lasting impact on the IEEE or its business processes. NIC identifies, evaluates, recommends, and monitors new initiative projects and programs consistent with IEEE’s vision, mission, and Strategic Plan. It recommends new initiatives for IEEE Board of Directors approval.

Funding for initiatives must be requested and approved each year. On multi-year projects, a NIC member shall be appointed to monitor the project.

The two types of initiatives are defined below:

  1. New Initiatives are large-scale projects that are in line with IEEE’s strategic directions, support the vision and mission of the IEEE and require significant funding.
  2. NIC Incubation/Seed Funding aka Seed Grants are smaller scale initiative projects or pilot programs that are innovative and may entail more risk. Seed Grant projects may serve as a precursor/pilot for subsequent New Initiative proposals.

A proposal should include the following for best positioning:

  • Tie the initiative and its outcomes to a strategic benefit(s) to IEEE
  • Show that the supporting base will include multiple interested OUs/societies
  • Insure it is expandable enough to apply across IEEE
  • Promote activity that shows new and innovative way of providing value (new product or service not the typical core competencies like standards, conferences, publications)
  • Consideration of sustainability throughout and beyond its life-cycle as an initiative from the beginning
  • Identify possible revenue streams

It is anticipated that once an initiative is through completion of incubation, funding for the core competencies (education, publications, conferences, etc.) will be requested from Future Directions, and the NIC will provide funding for newer, more innovative products and services.

Once initiative has completed its cycle, it is anticipated to enter post-initiative phase. In some cases, funding from Future Directions could be allocated to support the post-initiative phase to insure the launch.