Academic journal

AnalytiXIN, where industry and academia co-innovate – Indianapolis Business Journal

Innovation invades our society in waves. Not the “enhancement” kind of innovation, when a cell phone gets a bigger screen or an extra camera, but the deep, all-encompassing innovation of “creative destruction,” as economist Joseph Schumpeter called it. in 1942. The innovation that changes the way we live our lives.

The first wave of rapid innovation dates back to the 1780s, when mankind greatly expanded its use of water power and developed the mass production of textiles and stronger iron; this wave lasted about 60 years. Since then, each new wave has been shorter, more intense and more demanding on us. We are now in the sixth wave – the era of artificial intelligence, robots and drones, clean technologies and data. Lots and lots of data.

I think I remember the beginning of this era in the mid-2010s. Headlines in the business and technology press were shouting, “Data will help change the world. Big data growth and success was promised in marketing, healthcare, shopping, travel, entertainment, gaming, all walks of life. As with previous waves, “creative destruction” was about to change the way we do things: automate processes, digitize products (when was the last time you printed a stack of photos from 35 mm?), develop more accurate predictive analysis images.

As an academic working in advanced analytics, I first noticed changes in the way computer scientists, many of whom worked in data science, began to spread new knowledge. Traditional journal articles – the gold standard of academia – have been replaced by conference proceedings. The new technology was developing so rapidly that by the time it was published in a journal, it was already obsolete.

Then I noticed the growing disparity in data science between large companies and small/medium companies, even in the same industry. Large corporations could afford to attract academics or create and maintain their own research labs to extract insights from growing volumes of data. Small businesses have had to rely on off-the-shelf products, occasional consulting services, or old, real ways of doing things, often far removed from the latest advancements in artificial intelligence or machine learning.

But for companies large and small alike, the growth of new technologies has far exceeded the industry’s ability to adapt its processes, acquire skilled talent, and develop its digital capabilities to drive sustained innovation. It was clear that the industry needed a solution that would help close this gap. In Indiana, where life sciences and manufacturing represent the state’s most important economic drivers, this need was particularly pronounced.

In March, I started as the Managing Director of the University of Notre Dame’s AnalytiXIN initiative at the 16Tech Innovation District in Indianapolis, where the initiative was already established. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, Indiana’s three major universities – Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame – as well as several large corporations that are part of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, are working together on this initiative.

Collectively, university and business representatives have worked for more than a year to figure out how to bridge the growing gap between advances in data science and the digital capabilities of Indiana businesses. The initiative consists of four major projects: Common Innovation Space, Life Sciences Data Assets, Manufacturing Data Assets, and Talent Attraction/Retention. AnalytiXIN is the commonplace of inclusive co-inspiration and co-innovation.

Each member of the AnalytiXIN community has their own strategy for building such a place. At Notre Dame, the initiative is part of the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society, a center that facilitates transformative interdisciplinary research for societal impact. The institute implements the initiative at four levels of engagement with Indiana businesses: strategic, R&D, project level, and community development/outreach.

We started small, with several projects to develop and deliver a custom data science platform and solutions to Indiana businesses. But looking ahead, Notre Dame has established a faculty scholarship program and an internship program for students to engage with Indiana businesses. Seventeen Notre Dame representatives are working with Indiana businesses this summer to address the challenges the sixth wave of innovation has presented them.

Notre Dame’s strategy transcends goals of building bridges of collaboration and recruiting and retaining top talent. The goal of the initiative at Notre Dame is to help establish Indiana as a leading state where industry and academia co-inspire and co-innovate, with a focus on creating a positive and uplifting impact on our communities.

I am excited for what lies ahead. Industry-university partnership models are not new, but most focus on the exchange of data and services. AnalytiXIN, rooted in bridging the gap and encouraging co-innovation, has the potential to make Indiana the leader in data-driven university-industry co-innovation. This, in turn, can inspire inclusive societal impact, enabling us to ride the latest wave of innovation together, however intense or demanding.•


Kuskova is general manager of Notre Dame’s AnalytiXIN site at 16 Tech in Indianapolis. She is also a professor at the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society.