ICE Council this week agreed to press forward with plans to seek commercial support for many of its learned society activities, in a bid to bolster falling subscription and publishing revenues.
In a paper presented to Council by vice president David Balmforth this week, he estimated that over £750,000 a year could potentially be raised through the so-called “partnership strategy” from organisations looking to leverage commercial advantage from association with ICE.
The proposal followed the results of work carried by consultants last year and presented previously to Council with a recommended approach and projected potential income streams.
“As a result of the research […] we believe that ICE has a range of potential income streams from partnership activity in addition to the existing events income and sponsorship both regionally and centrally,” explains the report.
“As soon as somebody’s [company] name appears on a report, I worry”
Ed McCann, Council member
“These potential partnerships could be with organisations across many sectors outside the civil engineering industry - insurance, legal finance, recruitment, technology, academia, government accountancy etc.”
Balmforth said that, for example, firms in the reinsurance sector had already expressed interest in working with the ICE in the area of risk to critical infrastructure.
However, some Council members still expressed concern that the ICE’s reputation and impartiality could be compromised by this strategy.
In particular, members sought to be reassured over the nature and implication of any such partnerships.
“As soon as somebody’s name appears on a report, I worry,” said Council member Ed McCann.
“We cannot remove all risk, but we will use due diligence to mitigate it”
David Balmforth, ICE vice president
Balmforth told Council that the paper addressed these fears and said that the ICE would set up a special governance panel to monitor the initiative and with the power to veto or modify any proposals that risked damaging the ICE reputation or professional standing.
“I’m not going to pretend that we cannot remove all the risk, but we will use due diligence to mitigate it,” explained Balmforth.
Council voted to move forward with the proposals and in April will sign a contract with a specialist fund raising consultant to develop the idea.
The plan is for the ICE to work alongside the ICE Benevolent Fund. It is estimated that in year one the commercial support initiative could raise £24,000 rising to £440,000-£786,000 net income by year 5.