Northwestern Mutual Partners with Universities to Found Data Science Institute

The insurer has joined with Marquette University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to invest nearly $40 Million to create the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute.

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Northwestern Mutual (Milwaukee, Wisc.) reports that it has formed a new partnership with Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) to create the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. The insurer characterizes the partnership as the latest step by the in its commitment to foster the growth of Milwaukee as a national hub for technology, research, business, and talent development.

John E. Schlifske, Chairman and CEO, Northwestern Mutual.

The rationale for the investment resides in the fact that data science has become a major competitive differentiator for companies across all industries, a Northwestern Mutual communiqué suggests. The insurer’s investment aims to support mastery of the advanced statistical methods, algorithms and technology data scientists use with large data sets to support decision-making, develop strategies, and create new products aimed at giving companies a competitive advantage.

“As business needs change, the field of data science has accelerated rapidly,” comments John Schlifske, chairman and CEO, Northwestern Mutual. “Preparing our future workforce and aligning curriculum with business needs is critical to the economic vibrancy of Milwaukee. Northwestern Mutual is committed to building a center of excellence around data science, and through our partnership with Marquette University and UW-Milwaukee, we will establish Milwaukee as a data science capital with leading academic programs and career opportunities.”

Michael R. Lovell, President, Marquette University.

Northwestern Mutual says that over the next five years, it will contribute $15 million, with the participation of its Foundation, to support an endowed professorship at each university, research projects, new data science faculty, development of expanded curriculum, K-12 STEM learning opportunities, and pre-college programming. Marquette University and UWM will each invest more than $12 million in data science education and research by existing data science faculty, bringing the total commitment in this effort to nearly $40 million, the insurer relates.

“Regions thrive when organizations creatively address common challenges from different perspectives,” comments Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell. “Northwestern Mutual, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette are creating an exceptional, unprecedented partnership to further the economic renaissance under way in southeast Wisconsin. Marquette will strengthen the collaboration through our data science major, which gives students the skills needed to transform data into knowledge that will benefit society.”

Components of the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute, including hiring interim co-directors and curriculum planning, will begin on June 30, 2018 and the first classes in the Institute will launch as part of the 2019-2020 academic year, Northwestern Mutual says.

Mark Mone, Chancellor, UWM.

Addressing a Looming Talent Shortage, Global Competition

“UW-Milwaukee is thrilled to step forward in collaboration with Northwestern Mutual and Marquette University to resolve some of the most perplexing problems facing our region,” comments UWM Chancellor Mark Mone. “A looming talent shortage and global competition demand that we make intelligent decisions that are driven by the plethora of data available to us all. This is easier said than done. Working together will draw us closer to building a region that is rich in technological and analytical expertise and attracts new and strengthens existing organizations and industries while enriching our communities.”

In addition to its investment, Northwestern Mutual will provide classroom and office space in Cream City Labs, the company’s new innovation lab that is under construction and will open fall 2018 in Northwestern Mutual’s downtown Milwaukee campus. Northwestern Mutual data science leaders will also partner with the universities on teaching opportunities, mentoring and internship programs, and will help to provide insight on how student curriculum can better align with current business and industry needs, the insurer says.

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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