Data analytics lab hosts grand opening in Research Park

By Lilly Mashayek

Corporate Executive Board (CEB), the 101st company to join Research Park, opened its new Data Innovation Lab Wednesday.

Laura Frerichs, director of Research Park, said the company first showed an interest in joining the park in January 2015.

“A large consulting company is something that we don’t really have right now,” she said. “They (CEB) work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies, and a lot of their clients are at Research Park as well.”

CEB is a data analytics company, compiling data from multiple companies and then sharing that information with the companies they are consulting with, similar to how a online database would work.

“CEB is a best-practice insight and technology company,” Todd Burner, senior director of CEB, said. “And we help businesses through two different business segments; the first is our best-practice decision support business and our second is our talent management business.”

The opening ceremony for the company was held at the Atkins Building on the Research Park campus, beginning with a luncheon and opening remarks from Frerichs and others involved in the partnership between CEB and the University, including the Dean of Engineering Andreas Cangellaris and the Dean of Business Jeff Brown.

Brown said the partnership between the University and Research Park is part of the reason why the University is the number one source of CFO’s in the nation.

“Our college as a campus is very proud of the fact that we train tomorrow’s business leaders,” he said. “And those business leaders of tomorrow are going to be well-trained in the areas that (CEB) is engaged with.”

Cangellaris said the center of campus is moving south towards Research Park because of the opportunities it provides.

“I was asking the mayor what is the number one product of Champaign and Urbana, and it’s talent,” he said. “We are growing it in high quality and in large numbers.”

The Mayor of Champaign, Deborah Feinen, welcomed CEB and said the new lab will be as much a part of the University as it is the city of Champaign.

“The Research Park is not only a driving force at the University of Illinois, but it’s an economic engine here in our community,” she said.

Todd Burner, senior director of CEB, praised the University’s work in the community as well.

“There’s a real, wonderful partnership opportunity between what CEB is trying to do for its clients and what the University of Illinois is trying to do for it’s students and the broader community,” said Todd Burner, senior director of CEB.

Once opening remarks concluded, guests were invited upstairs for the ribbon cutting ceremony. The new lab even smelt brand new as guests were given a preview of the lab and it’s new equipment.

CEB had been recruiting students to work at the lab since last Fall and currently employs several students part-time. Peter Ghavami, from CEB, said they hope to employ between 10 to 15 students, and that they would be full-time in the summer. One of the things Ghavami said he hopes the student data scientists can work on is natural language understanding.

“The center is a sign of a commitment to big data analytics and our commitment to becoming a world leader in data sciences,” he said. “We are bringing the best minds together to work together to build the next generation of the data analytics solutions outlet.”

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