Tohoku University Enters into Industry-Academia Collaboration with Dai-ichi Life and NTT DATA

Tohoku University, Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and NTT DATA Corporation have signed a comprehensive partnership agreement that aims to address social challenges and improve quality of life through creative innovation and regional revitalization.

The high level industry-academia collaboration - which will leverage the partners' strengths in research, AI-related technologies and big data analysis - also includes the development of a large pool of data scientists and experts, and investment in the commercialization of advanced technologies and venture companies.

"We are entering an era of change so we need new solutions to address new problems," said Tohoku University President Hideo Ohno. "To do that, we want to take the cycle of education, research and co-creation with society to a higher level."

Big data analytics and AI have been a growing priority for Tohoku University in recent years. A Center for Data-driven Science and Artificial Intelligence is scheduled to open in October, offering practical education to all first and second year undergraduates to boost their AI and data science literacy. It is then hoped that senior undergraduates and graduate students will go on to acquire advanced skills that can further help them in their research.

The center will consist of four departments: practical data science, advanced AI, transdisciplinary digital education and data foundation/security. Students will have access to specialized lectures, corporate internships and Project Based Learning (PBL) opportunities.

"In learning data science and AI, it is not only important to know how methods and tools work, but how to manage them to solve actual problems," said Professor Mitsuyuki Nakao, Dean of the Graduate School of Information Sciences. "NTT DATA and Dai-Ichi Life have both become top companies by using their data science and AI assets. Our students will undoubtedly benefit by learning from them through lectures, training and the chance to handle big data in real life business situations."

This tripartite agreement was made possible in part by the shared vision and good relationship that the three companies have with each other. NTT DATA's CEO Yo Honma and Dai-ichi Life's chairman Koichiro Watanabe are alumni of Tohoku University.

"We all want to contribute towards solving social issues by combining digital data and healthcare," said Honma. Watanabe agreed, adding that "we will do our best so that this university-industry collaboration succeeds and becomes a model for others to follow in the future."

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