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North Carolina’s Leadership at Stake as the ‘Data Economy’ Rises

N.C. Board of Science, Technology & Innovation recommends action to position state for success in the new economic environment


Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: 2/9/2017

Contact: David Rhoades
Phone: 919 814-4611


Raleigh, N.C. - Closer collaboration, proactive branding, and a greater focus on data science education and talent development will propel North Carolina to the top of the emerging data economy, according to a new report published today by the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology & Innovation (BSTI).  Leadership in the data economy is becoming increasingly critical as more and more economic value is based on the ability to successfully collect and manipulate data for insight and profit.

The new report, NC in the Next Tech Tsunami: Navigating the Data Economy, identifies North Carolina’s many assets and advantages, but also contains findings that raise concern.  For example, despite the state’s high ranking in important technology sectors, the report reveals that data professionals rank the state about 12th in the country for data economy leadership.

“The data economy can generate new, high-paying jobs in all industries, in all jobs, and in all areas of the state,” said Anthony M. Copeland, North Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce. “We must ensure we have the educational and economic ecosystems in place to support these new jobs because diverse industries like manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare all will require more sophisticated data skills from their employees.”

The transformative power of the new data tools and techniques have led observers at the World Economic Forum to declare this new economic environment the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’
Data science is not just for technology companies either, according to the report. North Carolina companies as varied as R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and General Electric use data for insights into customers, products, and operations.

The report describes the state’s tremendous educational data assets at the community college, undergraduate and graduate university levels. Many global companies providing tools for the data economy like SAS, IBM, Inmar, and Red Hat reside in North Carolina. Other leading companies in the state’s key life sciences sector like Quintiles and Biogen, and in the critical financial sector like Bank of America and Fidelity Investments, rely on data to compete.
 
The report offers recommendations that include elevating the data economy to the top of state economic development priorities, increasing the number of data startup companies, creating a pipeline of data science literacy, branding the state as the “Open Data” state, and increasing the amount of data science research.

“Although North Carolina has tremendous data assets, we need to focus our efforts on connecting and branding them,” says Scott Doron, project leader and Associate Director of the Office of Science, Technology, & Innovation, a division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

To create the report, BSTI partnered with the National Consortium for Data Science—
a public/private collaboration housed at the UNC Chapel Hill Renaissance Computing Institute.

The initiative’s next step is the formation of a public/private working group to implement the recommendations. For more information and a copy of the report, visit the website nccommerce.com/sti or contact Scott Doron at scott.doron@nccommerce.com.



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