Georgia's Columbus State University has launched an IT Innovation Center that it hopes will make money for it, while also helping outside businesses and organizations become more successful and profitable.

Abraham George, CSU’s chief information officer and the person who will head the center, said Wednesday the center will serve a hosts of clients, becoming an incubator in time, while creating a “spirit of entrepreneurship” among the IT staff at school.

There are about 55 information technology employees on the university’s payroll. They already oversee everything from software development and wireless services to infrastructure and mobile app support at the school, he said.

“This is brand new,” he said of the IT Innovation Center. “It came about because of the exceptional work the IT staff has done over the past five or six years.”

George said the center will specialize initially in four areas. They include consulting aimed at “data-driven leadership and analytical services” and “business intelligence.”

Said George: “That is very important in this time and age because leaders get a lot of data, but a lot of them really don’t know how to use the data.”

Other areas of expertise, he said, will be development of mobile applications — the use of that technology is exploding among consumers — and training connected to cyber security. The latter is a threat routinely in the news with various data and financial breaches and hacking attempts.

George said the rollout of the IT Innovation Center and its services will be steady. Early on, it is drawing interest from other Georgia colleges — Georgia Southwestern and Dalton State among them — that want to learn how CSU can help them.

He said the center eventually hopes to cater to a range of clients — educational institutions, government agencies, health-care organizations and businesses that include banks, credit-card firms and insurance companies.

Aside from turning a profit for the university, George said, the goal is to give clients the skills and training they need to be competitive, secure and “use their data to their advantage.”

In a statement from the university, CSU President Tim Mescon said he has high hopes for the IT Innovation Center.

“We want to be able to provide a niche service to businesses, give our students real-world experience and allow our experts to stay on the cutting-edge of today’s technology environment,” he said.

George said his office is still in the process of developing a website for the center. It can be reached via phone at 706-507-8010 or via email: ITInnovationCenter@columbusstate.edu

©2014 the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)