UNC Charlotte researchers have received two of 43 awards from the inaugural round of grants from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Convergence Accelerator pilot. The new NSF initiative supports multidisciplinary research teams and lays the groundwork for public-private partnerships with Fortune 500 companies to apply Big Data to science and engineering, and create technologies that enhance the lives of American workers.

The Convergence Accelerator is based on the premise that investing in “convergent approaches”–the collaborative and integrated work of experts across a variety of disciplines—will produce outcomes of greater value and impact for industry, government and the nonprofit sector than those of singular efforts as they explore solutions to complex societal problems.

“For decades, the private sector has not been able to justify investment in basic research due to a lack of obvious commercial applications,” said Douglas Maughan, NSF’s Convergence Accelerator office head. “With the Convergence Accelerator, we’re challenging that notion as we partner with others whose work will potentially change and enhance society.”

Funding to UNC Charlotte will support two separate projects. The first will address an across-the-board workforce challenge by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop an innovative smart training program that will be applicable across industries. The other will make possible the development and accessibility of a federal database that stores political, public policy, economic and social information that currently is available only state-by-state.

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Originally published Sept. 18, 2019.