Future Directions Handbook


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. Incubation /Seed – 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 93

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) Incubation/Seed Funding:  Is available  through the IEEE FDC Society/Council New Initiative: Proposal form which provides incubator funding for new initiatives. The basic requirements include:

  • A description of the most important objectives and goals of the initiative. If the initiative has been previously funded, discuss the outcome of the initial investment and the successes achieved. Identify steps to successfully transition.
  • A priority of goals with a description of the specific focus of the goals
  • Identify the fundamental enabling technologies (and related industries) that are to be the subject of the initiative and show how they can be used and exploited in other domains.
  • Explanation of the relationships with the industrial world. Describe/Identify industry verticals or organizations mentioned in the proposal which will be involved from the inception of the Initiative and which will help provide credibility. If possible, identify key people/organizations that will be involved to populate the think tank to develop the deliverables.
  • Indicate how the initiative will engage the larger Technical community. Show how to engage, nurture, and increase a large technical community by means of new approaches. Please consider new ways of interactions and community constructs such as Virtual Conferences, or new ways of supporting the spread and creation of knowledge
  • Describe which assets the initiative will seek to create or foster (publications,conferences, open or traditional standards, educational products etc.). Possibly add metrics for success such as measures of the demand for or sales of deliverables, targets for technical community membership, conference/event participation expectations, and so on.
  • If the proposal has a strong interest for humanitarian actions, then the proponents should describe how external humanitarian Organizations will be engaged.
  • List the various hurdles (of a technical, regulatory, sociological or other nature) that can stand in the way of the proposed project. For each identified hurdle, please propose the outlines of a mitigation plan

(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.