NSF creates four regional data science hubs

NSF creates four regional data science hubs

The National Science Foundation is awarding more than $5 million through the Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs program to support four regional data science innovation centers.  The centers will serve all 50 states and focus on facilitating big data analytics, access and usage.

The hubs will help create multisector partnerships and collaborations between big data science researchers and more than 250 universities, cities, foundations and Fortune 500 corporations, according to the announcement.

The goal, NSF officials said, is to create a “big data brain trust,” that will target regional challenges through big data partnerships and activities, idea and resource sharing and cost-saving coordination efforts. The hubs will serve as sites for transitioning research into practice as well as education and training areas to expand the data science workforce.

"This program represents a unique approach to improving the impact of data science by establishing partnerships among likeminded stakeholders," said Jim Kurose, NSF's assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

The first phase of projects will work on a governance structure for the consortia of hubs, focus on recruitment of executive directors and administrative staff and develop inter-hub collaboration plans.  NSF anticipates awarding $10 million in grants for the next phase of the BD Hubs program, called the Big Data Spokes, which is intended to jumpstart research on the hubs’ recognized  priority areas.

The centers will be coordinated by top data scientists at Columbia University (Northeast Hub), Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina (South Hub), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Midwest Hub) and the University of California, San Diego, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington (West Hub).

According to NSF, the groups' priority issues include technologies for data-driven discoveries in health care, natural resources management, precision agriculture, precision medicine, education, energy, smart communities, finance and materials and manufacturing.  

The grants are part of the National Big Data Research and Development Initiatives, which were announced in 2012 to encourage collaboration among academia, industry and government.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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