In Montpellier, the Institute of Data Sciences helps companies and researchers navigate the complexity of data

Digital data, omnipresent today and the use of which feeds all fantasies, is described as the black gold of the 21st century. But the exponential growth in the volume of data collected, the question of the reliability of this data, changes in legislation and the need for cross-referencing between heterogeneous data require new skills.

“This is proving more and more true, underlines today Anne Laurent, professor of computer science in the fields of databases and artificial intelligence and director of the Institute of Data Sciences of Montpellier (ISDM). Today, you have to know how to cross your own data with administrative data, mobility, health, etc., you have to learn to navigate this complexity and not only look under your own lamppost … The challenges of ISDM , it is therefore not to do research on data science or artificial intelligence but to make people understand the richness of the methodological palette that exists behind and to support to use the right tool. “

Open the field of possibilities

It is to respond to these new challenges (massification of data, complexity of statistical and algorithmic models, ethical and legal issues, etc.) that the ISDM was created in Montpellier, in 2019, at the initiative of the director of the Laboratory of computer science, robotics and microelectronics of Montpellier (LIRMM) Philippe Poignet, the director of Polytech Montpellier Lionel Torres, and the director of the mathematics laboratory at the time Jean-Michel Marin. With one ambition: to federate and make visible regional strengths and actions in data science, create synergies, map skills, and democratize data science for the use of researchers or academic engineers but also companies for the implementation and concrete solutions.

« They are sometimes powerless to process the data and it is not the missions of the research laboratories to support them, adds Anne Laurent, who is now in charge of around ten people on these subjects. We work at the request of fellow researchers or companies to open up the field of possibilities or alert them to a direction to take. And we are also at the initiative of setting up projects. “

A DU Scientific Data Management

The ISDM thus supports the Montpellier startup Kyli, whose ambition is to take advantage of the potential offered by artificial intelligence and data science to offer decision-making tools for public or private R&D laboratories and to promote data from the research. These notebooks contain valuable information (hypotheses, experiments or results from analyzes), a “data capital” which constitutes an exploitable potential in other research programs.

« They offer a solution of electronic laboratory notebooks, with health, biological and diagnostic data, and they want their solution to be as intelligent as possible, even predictive, indicates Anne Laurent. We support them in defining their R&D plan. “

ISDM also carried out the Axiaum project for which seven theses, in connection with finance, health or the environment, were co-financed within the framework of the doctoral contracts program in AI of the National Research Agency ( ANR).

“On the business side, we still have work to do to be better identified, points out Anne Laurent. We are in contact with the incubators, French Tech, but we are often referred to companies that work in data, when they are not always the ones who need us the most. “

Attached to the University of Montpellier, ISDM created a DU Scientific Data Management a year ago and the first promotion opens in 2021. Anne Laurent indicates that around forty people have registered to date, registrations remaining open .

“We target in particular companies wishing to discover data science, its multiple aspects and the associated innovation potential”, specifies Anne Laurent, who, aware of the lack of notoriety of the young ISDM, is planning projects that would combine research organizations, the University Hospital of Montpellier and Nîmes or even communities such as the Montpellier Metropolis and its future Med Vallée …