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First Event: Match-Making in Big Data with Academia and Industry 10.11.2020

The National Research Program, NRP embraces research projects that contribute to solving key issues of today. The Federal Council makes the final selection of topics, which it then refers to the Swiss National Science Foundation, SNSF, to address within the scope of an NRP. NFP 75 provides foundations for the effective and appropriate use of big data. The projects focus on computing and information technology but also deal with the effects on society as well as on big data applications in various areas of society.

In its aim to help companies develop new products and services the Swiss Alliance for Data-Intensive Services is also looking for joint workshops and conferences with partners who are active in similar areas. This is how the collaboration with the National Research Programme NRP 75 “Big Data” came about.

On 10 November 2020 a first match-making event took place. Short pitches of ten projects in two blocks focused on technology transfer and were followed by breakout sessions to answer questions, make contacts, and exchange ideas. Originally planned as physical events at three different locations in Switzerland, the series had to be moved into a virtual space due to the current Covid-19 situation. 

Beatrice Huber, head of knowledge and technology transfer at NRP 75, opened the event: “We believe that we are doing excellent research in our NRP. But that is not enough. Research must also be useful for the society, for the industry. That is why technology transfer is important and that is why NRP 75 looked for partners to promote it. Swiss Alliance for Data-Intensive Services was the ideal partner to this end.”

Gundula Heinatz, Managing Director of the alliance then welcomed the participants and speakers and introduced the alliance “We are an innovation network with members from Academia and Industry. Our mission is to provide a significant contribution for data-driven value creation. With events like these we create an inspiring ecosystem, even during special times like today. It is a pleasure to know that some of our academic members are presenters and some industrial members are participants today. Take this opportunity to exchange and discuss collaborations”.

Cedric Huwyler from FHNW held the first talk “Automatic analysis of solar eruptions” about the impact of solar flares and the huge amount of data that it produces when it’s being recorded. 

Then Antoinette Weibel, from the University of St Gallen, talked about “Big Brother in Swiss companies? Trust, data and personal privacy of employees”. More and more spying software is bought by companies. Weibel talked about the ethical handling of this and how the software is used in Switzerland.

Michael Lechner, from the University of St Gallen, talked about the “Causal Analysis with Big data.” 

Kristen Schmidt, Attorney-at-Law, talked about “Who owns data”. Personal data is key since it is useful for personalisation in sales.

Joseph Molloy from ETH talked about “Using data traces to improve transport systems”. He talked about mobility behaviour on the large scale for tourism, retail, marketing and public health (covid). For example, to understand travel patterns during the lockdown.

Thomas Brunschwiler, IBM Research,  talked about “ICU cockpit: computer assistance for intensive and emergency medicine”. There are a lot of alerts in the ICU that are sent from many different devices. They want to use all the signals and sources of data to reduce the amounts of false alerts.

David Bresch, from ETH, talked about “Combining theory with big data? The case of uncertainty in prediction of trends in extreme weather and impacts.”

Helmut Harbrecht, University of Basel, talked about “Big data for computational chemistry: Unified machine learning and sparse grid combination technique for quantum based molecular design.”

Then Mira Burri, from the University of Luzern talked about “The Governance of Big Data in Trade Agreements”. She talked about the largely ignored link between international trade law and the regulation of data.

Finally Zalan Borsos, ETH, talked about “Scaling Up by Scaling Down: Big ML via Small Core sets”.

The event on 10 November was only the first of three match-making events as NRP 75 has many more projects. Two more events will therefore take place: one on Thursday 19 November and the other one on Tuesday 24 November.

More information regarding the participating projects: