New $367 million Digital Transformation Institute Seeks Proposals to Use AI to Mitigate COVID-19 Pandemic

4/10/2020 12:59:45 PM

Chaired by Thomas M. Siebel, a new research consortium has the goal of using AI to scale digital transformation.

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Thomas M. Siebel (BA History ’75, MBA ’83, MS CS ’85), CEO of
Thomas M. Siebel (BA History ’75, MBA ’83, MS CS ’85), CEO of

A new research consortium chaired by Thomas M. Siebel (BA History ’75, MBA ’83, MS CS ’85) will spend $367 million in its initial five years to accelerate innovation in artificial intelligence with the goal of scaling digital transformation.  The Digital Transformation Institute ( DTI) will target its first research awards to support work to mitigate COVID-19 and to address risks from future pandemics. 

“The Digital Transformation Institute is a consortium of leading scientists, researchers, innovators, and executives from academia and industry, joining forces to accelerate the social and economic benefits of digital transformation,” said Siebel, who is founder and chief executive of “We have the opportunity through public-private partnership to change the course of a global pandemic,” Siebel continued. “I cannot imagine a more important use of AI.”

Professor Tandy Warnow, Chief Scientist of DTI.
Professor Tandy Warnow, Chief Scientist of DTI. DTI is co-hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley.  Illinois ECE Professor Rayadurgam Srikant is a co-director of the new institute and Illinois CS Professor Tandy Warnow is a co-chief scientist.  Additional partners include, Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton University

“All of us are being impacted by COVID-19. It’s affecting how we live, work, and teach,” said Warnow, Founder Professor of Computer Science. “Dramatic advances in AI, machine learning, and IoT, will be necessary for improved analysis, diagnostic devices, and modeling.”

The new institute will be supported over the next five years with more than $57 million in cash contributions from, as well as $310 million in Microsoft Azure and compute, storage, processing and AI resources. In addition, significant scientific supercomputing resources are being made available by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

Professor William D. Gropp, Director of NCSA.
Professor William D. Gropp, Director of NCSA.

"This new institute will greatly expand the use of computing and data to improve the world, starting with bringing together a consortium of leading institutions to address the COVID-19 crisis," said NCSA Director William D. Gropp, the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science.

Research proposals must be submitted before May 1, but proposals submitted by April 15 will be able to receive approval and funding earlier than mid-June.  Information about applying can be found on DTI’s website.

Read more from The New York Times, NCSA, ECE Illinois, and the Coordinated Science Lab.

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This story was published April 10, 2020.