UNC System $2.1M Grant to Fund Big Data Research Partnership

Date Published: 
Friday, February 13, 2015

UNC Charlotte has received a $2.1 million grant from the UNC General Administration to support research in data science and business analytics (Big Data). The funding, to be distributed across three years, is part of a continuing $3 million appropriation from the General Assembly in 2014 to support areas of "game-changing research" identified in the Board of Governor's strategic plan for the University system.

Mirsad Hadzikadic, director of the University’s Complex Systems Institute and professor of software and information systems in the College of Computing and Informatics, is the lead investigator for the project “North Carolina Data Science and Analytics Initiative.” In conjunction with N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Renaissance Computing Institute, Hadzikadic and fellow investigators will develop strategic research hubs of excellence that will position North Carolina as the national leader in fundamental and applied research in data science.

UNC General Administration awarded six three-year grants totaling nearly $9 million to faculty research in areas of strategic importance to the state.  Each of the funded projects involves faculty partners from two or more UNC campuses. More information on the series of grants is online.

UNC Charlotte’s 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.

Big Data refers to the massive amount of information generated daily. According to experts, in today’s data-driven economy there is nearly eight times more information produced each day than currently held in the existing collections of all U.S. libraries combined. Businesses and organizations that can harness this data they collect and utilize it strategically can maximize their competitive advantages. The implications stretch across virtually every business sector, especially retail and health care.

Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said 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.

Project leader Hadzikadic stated, “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. It 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."