The gift will be used to strengthen the university's research capacity in the emerging field of data science and tap its potential to impact studies in fields as diverse as genetics, artificial intelligence, drug development, material science, and business. Over the next decade, $10 million of the gift will be dedicated to continuing research, while the other half will establish an endowment for the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute (AFIDSI), an initiative designed to support the university's data science community and foster new industry partnerships.
In 2015, the Madison-based company entered into a partnership agreement with the university and has since collaborated on a number of community-based projects, including UW Odyssey, IT Academy, the UniverCity Alliance, and student outreach projects. The formation of AFIDSI builds on the university's previous data science initiatives, including the creation of a data science major; work conducted by the Institute for Foundations of Data Science, an interdisciplinary research effort supported by the National Science Foundation; and the creation of the Data Science Hub at Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
"Creating the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute will bring faculty together from across campus to collaborate on cutting-edge research, spark new opportunities for our students, and give us new ways to work with industry partners," said UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank. "It will advance discoveries in sectors vital to the Wisconsin economy and make sure our university remains a leader in this important area of research."