In just a few short months, Big Data analytics firm, Aunalytics, has proven that highly sophisticated technologies and top-tier data scientists aren’t confined to Silicon Valley. Harnessing local resources – recent graduates, local resources and businesses, and a cool weather climate -- Aunalytics seems to have found an ideal home for growth and development at Innovation Park.
The collection and storage of digital information is no longer a limited, inaccessible technology. However, sifting through these vast amounts of data, searching for patterns or other useful information, can be a complicated and expensive endeavor. The data scientists at Aunalytics specialize in helping clients sort and understand their data, while also using the results to predict relevant future trends. Aunalytics, funded by Graham-Allen Partners, is rapidly growing, having hired four data scientists who are all Notre Dame graduates, including a Ph.D., from mathematics and computer science and engineering. And they’re actively interviewing for additional positions.
“[We’re] creating a Big Data analytics platform that is agnostic to the data source, but integrated and customized to the business and delivers action-driven insights that enhance business performance,” says Nitesh Chawla, Founder of Aunalytics and the Frank Freimann Collegiate Associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame. “It could be databases from companies…social media…documents…Excel sheets. We combine all of the data from a variety of sources into a singular platform. Then we tap that platform of data to provide business-driven insights.” Aunalytics has already used this strategy to assist a number of local companies.
However, analytics platforms and data science are only part of the equation. “One vision we have is to help create a big data ecosystem in South Bend,” says Chawla. The big data ecosystem is incomplete without hardware, specifically technology and computing resources that can power advanced data analysis. Another Innovation Park client, EMU, co-founded by Notre Dame professors Peter Kogge and Jay Brockman, is developing innovative hardware and software technology for rapid and scalable in-memory processing of Big Data.
Located in Ignition Park near downtown South Bend, Data Realty, a sister company to Aunalytics and an Innovation Park alum, is a powerful data center that can handle the computing load of high-throughput analytics in a secured environment. Using the industrial power infrastructure supplying the old Studebaker automobile plant, Data Realty created a state-of-the-art computing facility that can host and enable processing of enormous amounts of data.
South Bend’s cool climate can also aid in the analysis of large data pools. “For almost half a year, the outside temperatures are cool enough to efficiently cool the servers,” says Aunalytics President and Data Realty CFO, Jim Fulton.
Local colleges and universities provide innovative young minds, which are also a unique resource. “Coming from the South Bend business community, one thing really surprised me -- I always heard that Notre Dame students don’t want to stay in South Bend, and I’ve not found that to be the case at all,” says Fulton. “I’ve found that Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s grads do want to stay here, it’s just that they want meaningful, exciting opportunities. And I think that’s what we’ve been able to create…a chance to be part of a start-up.”
Due to its location and association to the University of Notre Dame, Chawla says that Innovation Park has been an excellent place to build a company. “Innovation Park is the key enabler and incubator for start-ups, and is the hub for professors, students, and South Bend community to interact and innovate, impacting local economy and creating jobs” he says.