Delhi, India | May 15, 2023 – Today, with the generous funding of over ₹18.7 crores INR ($2.3 million USD) from Wellcome, data.org launched the India Data Capacity Accelerator and announced the selection of three premier universities in India. In partnership with these universities and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia, the India Accelerator will support the ambitious work of equipping emerging professionals with the interdisciplinary data skills needed to address challenges at the intersection of climate and health.
The India Data Capacity Accelerator is the third workforce partnership in data.org’s Capacity Accelerator Network (CAN). To date, data.org programs have engaged 16 academic partners around the world to help build data capacity and tools within the social impact sector.
Selected by an open request-for-proposals process, Ashoka University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani), and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Delhi will support the design and rollout of curriculum, resources, and interdisciplinary and experiential learning programs to create and engage top data talent — a consistent challenge for the social impact sector.
“A million brains are better than one, and the fact is, we need to accelerate training more data practitioners in the social sector to take advantage of the data revolution,” said Danil Mikhailov, executive director of data.org. “Our recent Workforce Wanted report identified an opportunity for 3.5 million jobs in the data for social impact field in developing countries alone over the next decade. The India Accelerator gets us one step closer to our commitment to training one million, purpose-driven data practitioners by 2032. We are thankful for the support from Wellcome and our partnership with J-PAL, and we look forward to collaborating with these three prestigious universities, who, together, will offer a comprehensive platform that combines academic excellence with practical application and classroom learning.”
The World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year. This new capacity accelerator will train data practitioners on the front lines of the climate crisis to help advance solutions to climate-related health issues.
“Practical, effective, and scalable solutions to the climate crisis in India and the world will remain elusive unless innovations have been rigorously tested for effectiveness,” said Tithee Mukhopadhyay, Deputy Executive Director, J-PAL South Asia. “The India Data Capacity Accelerator is the latest step in J-PAL South Asia’s continued efforts to unlock and leverage data and scientific evidence for making effective policies in collaboration with our university, social impact, and policy partners. The program’s innovative model of combining theoretical lessons and practical training on harnessing, analyzing, and applying data will prepare young professionals to become leaders in the social impact sector.”
The three universities chosen for this important work demonstrated not only experience and capabilities in data, climate, and health — but in social impact; intersectionality; and inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA).
“Given the diversity of a country as large as India and the varied needs of a broad set of learners, we knew we needed a mix of public and private universities covering a wide geographic footprint and offering online, in-person, and hybrid learning opportunities,” said Priyank Hirani, associate director of CAN. “We are so pleased with our first set of academic partners in this network in India who each bring complementary expertise and cater to a specific segment of aspiring data talent.”
- Ashoka University is India’s first liberal arts and sciences private university and a prominent player in the Indian social sector through its esteemed research centers. As part of the accelerator, it will offer an online postgraduate certificate targeted to young professionals in climate and health organizations.
“We are excited to launch the executive development program for social sector practitioners with data.org’s support as part of their India Data Capacity Accelerator,” said Pramath Raj Sinha, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Ashoka University. “Much like data.org, Ashoka emphasizes nurturing leaders committed to addressing systemic social challenges, interdisciplinary approaches to solving global problems in its curricula, and inclusion and diversity in its student body.”
- One of the first six schools to be awarded the “Institute of Eminence” status in 2018 by the Government of India, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani) has four campuses across the country and will offer both an undergraduate minor to students in its Pilani, Goa, and Hyderabad campuses and a postgraduate degree through its work integrated learning platform for professionals who already have technology and data proficiency.
“India generates a lot of data that can be of immense use when addressing climate change or finding better healthcare solutions for the world’s population,” said Professor V. Ramgopal Rao, Vice Chancellor of BITS Pilani. He added, “BITS Pilani is committed to providing solutions to effectively utilize this data by increasing the trained manpower in data for social good through interdisciplinary programs for both first-degree level and working professionals.”
- Created by an act of the Delhi legislature as a comprehensive research-led teaching institute, Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIIT-Delhi) will provide both technical and non-technical professionals with the hybrid program Post-Graduate Diploma in Data Science in Health and Climate Change for Social Impact.
“Data for social impact is a growing field in India, but until now, there have been limited academic courses, training, or leadership development programs available,” said Ranjan Bose, Director of IIIT-Delhi. “Building on our experience of running existing programs in computing, data science, and AI, we are excited to bring our expertise to this partnership as we work toward increasing capacity in India, and, ultimately, helping improve lives.”
The launch of this new accelerator was celebrated at a day-long convening of leaders across sectors hosted by data.org and the Working Group on Sustainable and Resilient Communities: Climate, Environment, and Net Zero Targets under Civil Society 20 during India’s G20 Presidency 2023. The convening took place at the University of Chicago Center in Delhi, where participants presented expert perspectives and discussed shared goals for impact through the creation of data capacity for climate and health.
data.org is accelerating the power of data to solve some of our greatest global challenges. Launched in 2020 by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation, data.org serves as a platform for partnerships to build the field of data for social impact by widening access to the tools, resources, and talent needed to make sustainable and equitable change.
A global organization, data.org convenes and coordinates across sectors and is committed to supporting and amplifying visionary — but also practical — solutions to drive greater impact, through data.
About Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia:
The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of 294 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty.
J-PAL was launched at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003 and has 7 regional offices around the world. J-PAL South Asia, hosted by the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai, has built partnerships for the generation of new research and advancement of evidence-informed policymaking with 20 Indian state and central government ministries, as well as training partnerships with the governments of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
For more information, visit povertyactionlab.org/south-asia.
About Ashoka University
Ashoka University is India’s premier interdisciplinary research and teaching institution, providing higher education at par with the best in the world. A unique example of collective philanthropy, it is funded by close to 200 leaders, thinkers, academics and philanthropists from a range of fields. Its faculty body consists of eminent individuals who have studied and taught at the world’s finest institutions. Ashoka offers a diverse and inclusive space for its students to think deeply and critically. It envisions developing global leaders who understand disciplinary boundaries, express themselves creatively, and communicate with meaning to cause impact and change. With over 2600 students and 14 dedicated research centres today, the university offers programmes and research opportunities in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. In its next phase of growth, the university is building a second campus and making major investments in the Sciences, including original cutting-edge research in vital areas like biosciences and information technology. Ashoka’s 4000 alumni are making a significant impact in hundreds of leading organizations and dozens of leading universities across the globe. Ashoka is a non-profit university established under the Haryana Private Universities Act, 2006. It is located in Rajiv Gandhi Education City, Sonipat, Delhi NCR, India.
About Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani)
The Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani), is a deemed university recognized as an “Institution of Eminence” by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. BITS Pilani is a pioneer in Higher education in all the major disciplines of Engineering and Sciences, with Humanities, Social Sciences, Economics and Finance in its ambit. Its four modern, aesthetically beautiful and fully residential campuses at Pilani, Dubai, Goa and Hyderabad with state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research provide a unique ambience for student and faculty interaction. BITS Pilani is establishing yet another campus in Mumbai to house the School of Management and School of Law. The primary aim of BITS Pilani is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. The Institute was established in 1964 by the late Shri G. D. Birla, an eminent industrialist, a participant in the Indian freedom struggle and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Over the years, BITS Pilani has provided the highest quality technical education to students from all over India, admitted on the basis of merit. Its graduates can be found worldwide in eminent leadership positions in all areas of engineering, science and commerce. BITS Pilani is proud to have given 13 unicorns to the country and more than 7500 founders and co-founders. The Institute’s commitment to excellence, adherence to merit, transparency, innovation, and enterprise have characterized its steady march to eminence.
About Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIIT-Delhi)
IIIT-Delhi is a comprehensive research-led teaching Institute where faculty, students, and alumni work together in a spirit of discovery and creativity to build a better world. The Institute, set up by an Act of Govt. of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD), awards B.Tech., M.Tech., and Doctoral degrees. It emphasizes quality education, curiosity-led research, and innovation leading to entrepreneurship. The teaching activities at the Institute derive strength from the cutting-edge research conducted by faculty, strong industry linkages, and international collaborations.
IIIT-Delhi has six academic departments – Computer Science and Engineering, Electronics and Communications Engineering, Computational Biology, Human-Centered Design, Mathematics, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Its research centers include the Infosys Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Centre for Design and New Media, Centre of Technology in Policing, Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Mobility, Centre of Excellence in Healthcare, Centre of Excellence on Light Fidelity, Datakart Centre of Excellence, Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Human-Centered Computing, and Center for Quantum Technologies.
The IIITD-Incubation Centre on campus is instrumental in driving the growth of entrepreneurial activities. IIIT-Delhi has also set up a Technology Innovation Hub called iHub Anubhuti under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems. There is also an Electropreneur Park focused on electronics startups.
More details can be found at iiitd.ac.in.