Big-Data grant provides validation of UNC Charlotte’s ‘Next Big Thing’

Mar 17, 2015 | Economic Development

UNC Charlotte’s focus on Big Data as its No. 1 priority has received a strong endorsement: a $2.1 million state research grant in data science and business analytics.

“This grant will further solidify the position of UNC Charlotte as the leader of Big Data analytics in both innovative educational programs and exemplary relationship with industry,” said lead investigator Mirsad Hadzikadic.

UNC Charlotte’s project, the NC Data Science and Analytics Initiative, is among six projects statewide to share nearly $9 million in grants through a new initiative funded by the General Assembly. The UNC Research Opportunities Initiative award provides targeted funding for innovative and potentially game-changing projects, said Christopher Brown, UNC Vice President for Research and Graduate Education. Teams of faculty from two or more campuses will use the awards to advance collaborative research projects in areas ranging from new carbon electronics to big-data science analytics.

Details of UNC Charlotte’s proposal

UNC Charlotte’s Hadzikadic will lead a team of researchers here and at NC State and UNC Chapel Hill to develop strategic research hubs of excellence that will position North Carolina as the national leader in fundamental and applied research in data science.

The project will involve setting up a sustainable cloud-based infrastructure to enable Big Data collaborations, partnerships and research initiatives that will bring together investigators from academia and industry, initially focusing on the problem of risk mitigation.

Mirsad Hadzikadic

The grant “will help UNC Charlotte and North Carolina establish a state-of-the-art infrastructure for collecting and analyzing data, as well as establishing a center of excellence for risk mitigation strategies,” said Hadzikadic, director of the university’s Complex Systems Institute and professor of software and information systems in the College of Computing and Informatics.

UNC Charlotte’s focus on big data

The new grant announcement provides a strong endorsement of UNC Charlotte’s decision over the past two years to focus on Data Science as the “next big thing” for the university, as Chancellor Phil DuBois has labeled it.

Big Data refers to the massive amount of information collected daily by businesses and organizations. Programs like UNC Charlotte’s Data Science Initiative seek to help businesses and organizations harness their data for maximum benefit.

Dubois says Big Data is an example of a big idea that will have a major impact to meet the challenges and demands of employers in a data-driven economy.

“UNC Charlotte is taking a lead role in data science and business analytics, which will drive high-end job creation and business investment in Charlotte and throughout the state and nation. This grant grows out of the continuing support of the North Carolina legislature in funding this important industry driven initiative.”

In an emphasis on data sciences and business analytics (DSBA), UNC Charlotte has established an industry-university-state partnership, offering interdisciplinary academic programs to develop a new generation of data scientists, business analysts and managers.

DSBA has received significant private support from Charlotte-area businesses, including a $5 million investment in 2013 from Belk Inc.

Learn more about Data Science Initiative

Visit the DSI website

This report was compiled from multiple news releases.

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