Major funding boost for data science

The University of Auckland has been awarded $10 million in funding for data science research from MBIE's Strategic Science Investment Fund.

The University will lead one of four successful bids under the initiative, set up to harness the benefits of advanced data science and ensure strong data science collaborations in New Zealand and internationally.

The focus of the project, Beyond Prediction: explanatory and transparent data science for life and social sciences, is to develop new methods that discover, gather and integrate useful data that needs minimal human intervention.

The project is a collaboration between the Universities of Auckland, Otago, Canterbury and Massey and will involve computer scientists and statisticians working alongside scientists in fields such as computational biology and ecology.

It aims to improve the application of data science methods in complex research settings, make processing more efficient and create transparent and computationally-reproducible workflows that are published, open and easily reused.

Much of the budget for the project will go towards training and equipping doctoral and post-doctoral researchers who will successfully apply data science methods to unique New Zealand datasets that improve knowledge and understanding in specific fields.

Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland Professor John Hosking welcomed the funding.

“We know that data science has an important role to play in our ability to create good policy and to target specific areas such as healthcare, so significant funding in this area is vital to New Zealand,” he said.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods says the successful bids were chosen for their excellence and their potential to help New Zealand position itself at the forefront of emerging data science technologies.

Other projects chosen for funding ranged from teaching Siri to speak in Te Reo to crunching large environmental datasets collected via satellite.

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