Disconnected: Industry AI Needs vs. University Capabilities

Disconnected: Industry AI Needs vs. University Capabilities

Earlier this year, a disconnect was identified among entities investing and working with artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics technology in Indiana. Companies are putting resources toward AI and analytics and universities are conducting valuable research that could help steer investment, but the two groups had not been collaborating effectively. This divide was holding back Indiana as a potential leader in the field of intelligent systems, so the state has been working quickly to bring everyone to the table and drive innovation.


Troubleshooting: No Connection

Near the start of the year, TEConomy Partners, a global economic development research firm based in Ohio, published a report titled Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics in Indiana: An Initial Discussion of Industry Needs and University Capabilities. The research was commissioned and released by BioCrossroads, an Indianapolis-based organization that works to advance the life sciences sector.

In the report, a series of interviews was conducted with major employers in Indiana along with leadership at Indiana University (IU), Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame to generate their findings, perspectives, and recommendations. It was during these interviews where researchers identified the disconnect between industry and academia.

“Technological change is affecting our economy at an unprecedented pace and is driving significant investments by Indiana’s industry partners and research universities to ensure that they stay ahead of the curve. However, there is limited coordination between industry and academia leaving missed opportunities to leverage investment, recruit and retain talent, and drive economic growth for the state,” the report’s authors said.

One key area where the affects of this gap produces major problems is in the area of talent development. Universities are striving to produce candidates that companies need, and companies are competing against one another for talented people. If they aren’t working together, things won’t align and our economy will take a hit. Companies will look for other talent regions for their operations.

Patty Martin, president and CEO of BioCrossroads, said, “In order to drive more data analytics investments into Indiana, we must take a more intentional approach to promote engagement between and among our industry and research universities.”


Solution: Build New Ways to Work Together

In step with the release of the TEConomy Partners report, the first few months of 2020 have brought about several new major investments into new university capabilities in AI and analytics. Together, Indiana’s three main research universities have announced over $125 million worth of new investments and other Indiana schools are launching their own efforts to better coordinate advancements in the field.

Indiana University is investing $60 million to establish the new Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence, a multidisciplinary initiative in artificial intelligence with an initial focus on AI approaches to digital health. Officials said the university places special emphasis on partnering with information technology businesses and addressing needs in Indiana.

Notre Dame is investing $25M to establish the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society, a hub that will connect faculty, students, and research across existing data science and analytics programs. Officials said that Notre Dame will be growing its faculty across a broad range of disciplines, creating new innovative academic and research programs, and enhancing external engagement through conferences, publications, and industry partnerships.

Purdue is building a new $40 million facility dedicated to data science. The flagship four-story building will be 86,000 square feet, featuring classroom and teaching space alongside collaborative workspace for researchers, faculty, and corporate partners through the school’s Integrative Data Science Initiative.

Additionally, IUPUI announced plans during the spring to launch a new Institute for Integrative Artificial Intelligence. The main purpose of the new institute will be to develop major research initiatives and collaborations for high-impact AI technologies and applications. According to IUPUI officials, the institute will be critical to engaging companies and organizations across a wide range of sectors.

“AI is impacting every sector in direct and indirect ways, offering countless opportunities and posing significant challenges that require new and radical approaches — particularly multidisciplinary approaches, which is a focus of this new institute,” said Shiaofen Fang, director for IUPUI’s new institute and professor of computer and information science.


Alignment Will Inform Investment

A stronger bond between industry and academic in the fields of AI and analytics will help steer the direction of investment and development in Indiana. Fortunately, after the disconnect between the two groups was identified, parties throughout the state have moved very quickly toward solutions to the problem. Doors are open, and there is a clear willingness to work together towards the advancement of the field.