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Governor Cuomo announces support for University-led data science consortium

September 14, 2017
Andrew Cuomo shaking hands with Danny WegmanNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo (left) and Danny Wegman, president and chairman of the board of the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation and chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, shake hands during an announcement of a statewide academic-industry partnership on data science that will be led by the University. The governor announced $20 million in state funding for the initiative, and Wegman announced $10 million in support from the foundation. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

New York State, Wegman Family Charitable Foundation commit a total of $30 million as part of initiative. Harris Corporation is the first partner.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $20 million in state support for the creation of a Rochester Data Science Consortium at the University of Rochester.

With Harris Corporation as the consortium’s first partner, the University-led project will create up to 184 new direct jobs and is expected to leverage more than $285 million in federal research funds and private investment. The project also includes Wegmans Hall, the new 60,000-square-foot River Campus building that will house the new consortium, which is part the Goergen Institute for Data Science.

“The funding for this innovative endeavor is part of my administration’s ongoing efforts to foster new opportunities for companies and workers looking to unlock next generation discoveries,” said Cuomo. “By investing in this consortium, we are providing the resources needed to fuel innovation which will create opportunities, jobs and support the economy in the Finger Lakes region as it continues to move forward.”

Harris Corporation, a leading technology innovator which supports government and commercial customers, is particularly positioned to partner with the University on this project due to existing relationships that the company has in the Intelligence and Department of Defense communities. The company is committing its intellectual property to the consortium as well.

Wegman Family Charitable Foundation

In 2014, the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation donated $10 million to help establish the University’s Goergen Institute for Data Science. Today, the foundation announced another $10 million commitment to the project. The Goergen Institute is located inside the new Wegmans Hall, which will also be home to the New York State Center of Excellence in Data Science.

“Data science analysis is a rapidly growing field, with all sectors using more data to make better decisions. Whether it’s health care, education, or satellite imaging, the impact will be felt in every aspect of our lives,” said Danny Wegman, the foundation’s president and chairman of the board and chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “Higher education is a critical partner in helping industry to understand and analyze the mountains of data that will be processed to discern the right decisions from the wrong ones, and the University of Rochester is in position to lead the way.”

University of Rochester President and CEO Joel Seligman said, “Data science is a defining field of our future and New York is now poised to be a leader thanks to the support of Governor Cuomo. With his commitment to this transformational academic-industry partnership, along with the incredible vision and generosity of Danny Wegman and his family, and the support of our New York State delegation, we will create a high-tech innovation hub in the Finger Lakes region that leverages our core competencies of optics, photonics, and imaging to meet industry needs, create new jobs, attract new federal R&D funding, and develop the workforce, technologies, and companies of tomorrow.”

Funding for the collaborative endeavor will come through Empire State Development which has committed $20 million from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative for the project, which was a highlighted priority in the Finger Lakes Forward strategic plan. Another $2.5 million for the project was previously awarded through multiple Regional Council capital grants.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Governor Cuomo’s approach to supporting locally developed economic plans that capitalize on regional strengths, is paying off. This collaborative project will also provide needed workforce development training for those hoping to work in the high-demand, burgeoning field of data science.”

The University has identified data science as the centerpiece of its strategic plans. The University created undergraduate and graduate degree programs in data science and is helping train technical specialists, managers, clinicians, and others versed in the field of data science. Additionally, the University is already among the most powerful university-based supercomputing sites in North America, thanks to previous support from IBM and New York State.

The University is focusing on three initial domains of data science research: health analytics; artificial intelligence and cognitive science; and the development of new data science methods, tools, and infrastructure to drive discovery in science, national security and defense, business, medicine, and other fields.

Another shared domain for both the University and Harris is their core strengths in optics, imaging, and photonics. The new consortium will build off this strength and is expected to have an initial focus on three main areas:

  • Multi-Intelligence Correlation/Analytics and Deep Learning will evaluate advanced techniques such as deep learning to structure and label data and data analytics to extract information, trends, and correlations within the datasets.
  • Transportation Analytics will combine this information with weather, traffic, and other sources to evaluate the social economic impacts on companies, regions, people, and government.
  • Connected City Analytics will look at how datasets may be used for applications in commerce, law enforcement, and urban development.

The Rochester Data Science Consortium is a priority project and a signature initiative in the Upstate Revitalization Initiative Plan for the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. This partnership between two of the largest employers in the Finger Lakes region is expected to give New York State a competitive advantage in this growing field.

For additional information on the Goergen Institute for Data Science click here.

For additional information on the Harris Corporation click here.

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Category: Science & Technology

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