How one small firm combines contract wins with community service
Futrend pledges portion of profits from CIOSP3 to charities
- By Mark Hoover
- Jul 30, 2012
When you’re one of 54 winners of a huge government contract, it can be difficult to stand out, but Futrend Technology Inc. thinks it found away to get some attention and do some good at the same time.
Futrend is one of the recent winners of the National Institutes of Health’s Chief Information Officers Solutions and Partners 3 contract, a $20 billion multiple-award vehicle. The company has decided to donate one percent of its annual net profits from the previous year’s contract to four charities: Children’s Inn at NIH; various universities for technology innovations; community health care service centers; and the Carson Scholars Fund.
“We wanted to select the ones that make an impact; the ones that can solve a problem, impacting people’s lives right now,” said Yvonne Zhou, Futrend president.
Additionally, Futrend will also set aside 1 percent of its net profit from the previous year for research and development for internal innovation projects.
The company specializes in software development and system integration services, with a focus on health care IT, federal financial management, and grants management.
Zhou comes from a health care background; both of her parents worked in the health field—her mother was a nutrition expert in China; her father, a professor in pathology.
While Zhou may not have the same medical training, her knowledge of the health care field is such that she understands how to implement technology in such a way that makes a difference. What she finds important is “using technology to support health and human services, she said.
“It all depends on good work, and that’s where our passion is,” Zhou said.
Such was the mentality of her husband, Jerry Zhou, when he immigrated to the United States. in 1993.
“He really wanted to found his own company, he wanted to do something better,” Zhou said. Three years later, and with only four suitcases, Yvonne Zhou joined her husband in 1996. Futrend was founded four years later in 2000.
Zhou believes the CIOSP3 contract win to be an important step for Futrend.
The company worked with the following partners to secure the contract:
- Accelera Solutions, a virtualization solutions provider focused on desktop, application and server virtualization.
- CTSI Inc., a technology and communications solutions provider.
- CTS Corp., a designer and manufacturer of sensors and actuators, electronic components, and an electronics manufacturing services provider.
- Longview Inc., a registered investment advisor.
- Victory Global Solutions, a private telephone and communication line construction company.
Futrend also has other agreements with companies that have specialized expertise in health care IT:
- KnowMED Inc., semantic web in health care.
- Nuance for speech recognition, natural language processing and clinical language understanding.
- KBSI Inc. for biosurveillance, data mining, and predictive algorithms.
- Sutherland Global for health care IT outsourcing and helpdesk.
- Humana, for claims fraud detection.
As the company begins the CIOSP3 work, money will begin to be donated to the company’s charities.
While Futrend has not yet selected the universities and health care service centers that will receive donations, the framework for picking them is already hammered out.
“We want to work with the universities and health care centers that don’t just have innovations, but have innovations with the potential to survive,” Zhou said.
Indeed, the Children’s Inn at NIH and the Carson Scholar’s fund have survived since their inauguration.
The Children’s Inn at NIH provides lodging for sick children while they undergo treatment, and also provides lodging for their families. While receiving treatment, the inn will cater to the emotional wellness of children, providing activities and events to keep spirits high, including a resident therapy dog with that the kids can play with.
The Carson Scholars Fund was established by Dr. Ben Carson, who sits on the advisory board of Futrend, to praise those students who deserve credit for their accomplishments. These are students who work hard each day, but whose talents may be overshadowed by other students’ extracurricular accomplishments.
The fund is “very committed to helping children read that don’t have access to these resources,” Zhou said.
The fund has two vehicles: One is a scholarship program named Carson Scholarships that awards exceptional students money toward their college expenses; the other is called the Ben Carson Reading Project, which aims to instill in children a love of leisurely reading. To this end, the project has established over 70 Ben Carson Reading Rooms, which provide children with a comfortable atmosphere in which they may curl up with a book and pass a few hours reading.
“Growing up, we read a lot of books and we benefited a lot from that. It’s something that really resonated with us,” Zhou said.
The company is excited to move forward and do what it can do help out.
“We want to make sure that these things being commercialized will have an impact,” Zhou said. “That way, we can make a difference.”