What we would like to do is partner with a commercial OSS entity to apply for grants which could then be used to subsidize development and refinement of the tools, and their subsequent release, with the seemingly standard "free software and source if you want to DIY, but you pay for support and services" model being the eventual goal. Ideally this commercial OSS group would be local (in state at least) because that would open us up for many, many more grants.
We're doing our research into different projects and I have spoken to many people locally about their ideas, but I wanted to throw the question about how to find a partner and things to keep in mind out to Slashdotters to get some more.
How can we find an OSS group with a proven track record, that's local? What kind of things would that OSS group want from us? Has anyone engaged in these kinds of joint efforts before, and if so, what were your experiences?