Partnerships for change: US Big Data Innovation Hubs get funding boost
The National Science Foundation is awarding a second round of funding for the US Regional Big Data Innovation Hubs, organisations that work to build and strengthen data science partnerships across industry, academia, non-profits and government to address scientific and societal challenges.
The network is made up of four hubs, each based in and representing one of the four Census regions of the United States: the Midwest, Northeast, South, and West.
Each of the hubs will receive US$4 million over four years for a total investment of US$16 million, double the budget for the first round of Big Data Hubs awards.
“Developing innovative, effective solutions to grand challenges requires linking scientists and engineers with local communities,” Jim Kurose, Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at NSF, said in a statement.
“The Big Data Hubs provide the glue to achieve those links, bringing together teams of data science researchers with cities, municipalities, and anchor institutions.”
The University of Washington, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Diego, will continue to coordinate the West Big Data Innovation Hub.
The South Big Data Hub is managed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Northeast Big Data Hub network includes more than 650 individuals at over 200 organisations, across 9 states representing the most densely populated region of the United States.
The Midwest Big Data Hub is lead by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, Indiana University, University of North Dakota, and Iowa State University.
“We want to collaborate to help solve regional problems using the resources of the Hub,” explained principal investigator for the South Big Data Hub, Srinivas Aluru, in a statement.
“We are addressing truly regional issues that affect more than one state and more than one set of collaborators. These are challenges that can only be addressed by bringing these groups together.”
Each Hub pursues different major data priorities depending on the needs of the region, but all of them have a socially-conscious focus.
The West Hub’s first three years of operation have included a diverse set of application-focused projects. One example of these is the development of data analysis and tools to support access to safe drinking water, and their work to facilitate new insights in transportation safety.
The new funding allows each Hub to expand on this already impressive record and work in areas that make a difference to people’s everyday lives in their communities.
“There is a global shortage of data science and analytics talent that is threatening the future of innovation,” South Hub’s Executive Director Renata Rawlings-Goss said.
“By working across sectors, the South Hub joins in creating solutions to increase the capacity of universities and industry to work on pressing problems for our region and for the world.”