Pittsburgh DataWorks Launches

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New consortium is formed to inspire innovation around big data

Responding to a greatly increased need for a centralized and interactive community that brings together the growing field of all those involved in today's big data economy, leaders of Pittsburgh’s business, technical, and academic community today announced the formation of Pittsburgh DataWorks (http://www.pghdataworks.org), a non-profit consortium aimed at building the Pittsburgh region’s profile as a leader in big data education, talent, and technologies.

Big Data represents a huge opportunity. Public and private sectors alike need to harness big data to increase competitiveness, improve decision-making and profitability in consumer and business applications, increase manufacturing and distribution efficiency, and reduce costs. The market opportunity is large and growing. Industry analysts predict the Big Data segment to grow from about $23B in 2011 to about $44B in 2016. Along with this growth comes the demand for a whole new set of analytical skills.

Pittsburgh DataWorks will bring area companies, development organizations, universities, and the state and local government together to provide access to computing infrastructure, hands-on workshops, education and training courses as well entrepreneurial opportunities in a big data-driven economy.

The initiative has already attracted a number of companies, universities, and economic development organizations as founding members.

“Pittsburgh DataWorks pools local big data capabilities in a way that yields big results for business, industry, government, and academia,” says Randy Bryant, Dean of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) School of Computer Science. Bryant is a founding member of the Pittsburgh DataWorks Board of Directors.

Other founding board members are Karl Herleman, VP IT, Management Science Associates; Tom Jones, Managing Director, Draper Triangle Ventures; Rebecca Kaul, President, UPMC Technology Development Center; Ramayya Krishnan, Dean CMU Heinz College; Dr. Michael Levine, Scientific Director, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; Rich Lunak, CEO, Innovation Works; Jerome Pesenti, Chief Scientist, Big Data, IBM; Audrey Russo, CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council; Mike Wallace, Director, Big Data, Netapp and Dennis Yablonsky, CEO, Allegheny Conference.

Supporting the Board is an active Advisory Committee that includes Linda T. Ambroso, Leech Tishman; Kristee Blanciak, Netapp; Susan Buchman, Management Science Associates; Mike Capsambellis, Google; Panos K. Chrysanthis, University of Pittsburgh Computer Science; Matt Gaston, CMU Software Engineering Institute; Saman Haqqi, IBM; Jim Kasdorf, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; Iftekhar Kazi, UPMC; Alexandros Labrinidis, University of Pittsburgh Computer Science; Bob Monroe, CMU Tepper School of Business; Des O'Connor, Innovation Works; Joel Reed, Pittsburgh Technology Council and Jennifer Wilhelm, Urban Redevelopment Authority .

“Pittsburgh is a growing market with leading providers of big data solutions and organizations such as banks, retail enterprises, logistics firms, and energy companies, that are using the data science to optimize their businesses. We have hospitals, universities, non-profits and a thriving entrepreneurial community,” says Jerome Pesenti, Chief Scientist, Big Data at IBM. “Pittsburgh DataWorks can bring these thought leaders together to solve real world business an civic problems.”

Pittsburgh DataWorks plans to help the local workforce participate in the Big Data economy and address the huge skill shortage in the industry by hosting training sessions, executive education programs, and curriculum development initiatives in collaboration with local universities and businesses. The consortium will also sponsor pizza-fueled “hackathons” where experts and newcomers alike come up with solutions to a diverse predefined problem set, such as traffic congestion, distributing snow removal assets during a winter storm, healthcare automation and retail operations management.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald welcomed the creation of the consortium: “As County Executive, I believe that one of my biggest roles is as a promoter of talent retention and job generation in the area. Pittsburgh DataWorks can be a vital component of regional competitiveness and represents a tremendous opportunity for southwest Pennsylvania to establish itself as a leader in the big data industry.”

Audrey Russo, CEO of the Pittsburgh Tech Council and a member of the Board, said, “Pittsburgh DataWorks will unleash opportunities for developing ideas and solutions that rival the information-sharing impact of the first public libraries founded by Andrew Carnegie.”

Today’s launch celebration for Pittsburgh DataWorks kicks off an extensive calendar of big data activities in 2013. The consortium also plans to promote development of a geographic hub – a “Big Data Corridor” – with complementary big data enterprises across a stretch of communities such as Oakland, Squirrel Hill and East Liberty. The organization's physical office will be located at Revv Oakland, the new co-working community located in the heart of Oakland.

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