To help accelerate the growth of the data analytics field, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced four awards totaling more than $5 million to establish regional hubs for data science innovation.

The effort is coordinated by top data scientists at Columbia University (Northeast Hub); Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina (South Hub); the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Midwest Hub); and the University of California, San Diego, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Washington (West Hub).

Covering all 50 states, the awards include commitments from more than 250 organizations—from universities and cities to foundations and Fortune 500 corporations—with the ability to expand further over time< NSF says.

"This program represents a unique approach to improving the impact of data science by establishing partnerships among likeminded stakeholders," said Jim Kurose, NSF's assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, which funds the program.

"In doing so, it enables teams of data science researchers to come together with domain experts, with cities and municipalities, and with anchor institutions to establish and grow collaborations that will accelerate progress in a wide range of science and education domains with the potential for great societal benefit," Kurose said.

Building upon the National Big Data Research and Development Initiative announced in 2012, the awards are made through the Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs) program, which creates a new framework for multi-sector collaborations among academia, industry and government.

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