Entrepreneurs Michelle Melbourne and Phillip Williamson are redefining the shape of modern philanthropy with a major new donation to the University.
The couple, both ANU graduates, have given a gift in kind by donating high-technology software to help the University streamline its complex administration processes.
The gift from their Canberra-based company Intelledox is worth more than $1 million, but has the potential to save the ANU millions more as the software is used to digitalise manual paper-based processes.
“Phil and I are both passionate alumni, and it is such a great privilege and an honour to be able to share the technology we’ve invented with our alma mater,” said Ms Melbourne, Intelledox co-founder and Executive Director.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announced the donation at a ceremony at ANU.
The donation includes University-wide perpetual licenses to use Intelledox software.
A trial of the software has allowed the ANU to update its bureaucratic travel processes by replacing as many as 10 paper forms with an integrated on-line travel application system, saving the University up to half a million dollars a year.
The donation also involves a new collaboration with ANU staff and students to develop new applications. Students will own the intellectual property rights over their work, which could lead to a new generation of entrepreneurs and business start-ups.
Chris Grange, ANU Executive Director (Administration and Planning) said the University spent around $2 million a year on administering its travel for staff and students, and the Intelledox donation would save the University around $500,000 a year over the next five years.
“For two ANU alumni to offer a solution to one of our biggest problems is terrific,” Mr Grange said.
“The value of this gift is what we do with it. The real value is what we achieve over the next few years as we look at more paper processes.
“So this gift could well be worth more than $10 million to the University.”
Pro-Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Advancement at ANU, Professor Michael Cardew-Hall, said the donation was a new form of philanthropy that helped improve the close innovation collaboration between the University and the business sector.
“The gift that Michelle and Phillip have given us gives us a great commercial return in terms of saving money from within the University,” he said
“It will also allow students to engage in projects of an entrepreneurial nature. That will allow students to take those ideas forward and perhaps start their own businesses.”
Intelledox, formed more than 20 years ago, has offices in Canada, New York, the UK and Singapore, but is run from its headquarters in the Canberra industrial suburb of Fyshwick.
“The ANU absolutely opened our minds to the opportunities of thinking globally and taking the global perspective to everything we do,” Ms Melbourne said.
“We could run this business from any city in the world, but we choose to do it in Canberra. This is a great chance for us to give back to the Canberra community, and the ANU.”