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Birth of the DATAIA Institute


The DATAIA Institute: At the crossroads between digital technology and the human and social sciences

Designated a Convergence Institute within the framework of the Investments for the Future 3 programme (PIA), the DATAIA Institute brings together - on the Saclay plateau in the Paris area - multidisciplinary research skills in the data sciences and artificial intelligence to serve the human and social sciences.

Ten. This is the number of Convergence Institutes selected following two calls for projects, all disciplines combined. One of them is the DATAIA Institute, specialised in the data sciences, artificial intelligence and society. Or, how big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are serving the human and social sciences and their application areas . This interdisciplinary centre, bringing together 130 teacher-researchers, is backed by the Université de Paris-Saclay and scientifically managed by Inria.

The aim? To bring together, on one scientific site,large-scale and highly visible multidisciplinary expertise around a subject representing scientific challenges with strong socio-economic issues.

Financed by the French National Research Agency (ANR) within the scope of the third part of the Investments for the Future programme (PIA 3), the mission of the DATAIA Institute is to develop an integrative vision in cutting-edge research combined with training of excellence but also to promote relations between the academic and industrial worlds .

Multiple challenges to address

In order to realise these great ambitions, the centre wishes to remove the scientific, technological, legal, economic and ethical barriers to data science . For example: how do you offer a customer a personalised service to optimise energy consumption without infringing on their privacy? Or, how do you process the data from certain connected health devices with a view to preventive medicine? Without forgetting the importance of giving a judicial and legal framework  to this digital revolution in order to get the support of professionals and private individuals by playing the transparency card on the processing of sensitive or private data.

The DATAIA Institute relies on academic foundations such as statistics, strategy, data science, law, etc... and addresses interdisciplinary challenges (from data to knowledge and decision-making, from deep learning to AI, digital trust and approval or the data economy and its regulation) in order to disseminate its expertise to all of the scientific partners.The Institute furthers the transfer of its results in application areas like energy policy, health, business analytics (to help companies to best exploit their collected and stored data), networks of people and things (working on the various impacts linked to social networks, for example) and e-science.

International scientific cooperation

Such a scientific cooperation consolidates the international visibility and expertise of the Saclay data science community , by welcoming leading scientific figures for example. Projects are also carried out jointly between the public and private sector but also between the academic and industrial environment. For, the result of this research will certainly lead to objects or services that will be familiar to us in a few years' time. Moreover, encouraging suchrapprochementsis part of the objectives written in the PIA and the missions of the ANR.

The Institute also counts on the high-level scientists of the future. Indeed, it offers innovative initial and continuing programmes to train the data scientists of tomorrow.


  • Investments for the Future (PIA) programme : The third part of the PIA, put in place in 2016 by the General Commission for Investment (a department under the French prime minister), has €10 billion available to support the advances of teaching and research, add value to this research and accelerate the modernisation of businesses.
  • The French National Research Agency (ANR) : The mission of the ANR is to manage major state investment programmes in the field of higher education and research, and to monitor their implementation. Since 2010, it has been a public body for the actions of the PIA. Since the end of 2016, the ANR has signed an objectives and performance contract, making it a public body organisation serving public and private research.
  • The Convergence Institutes : These institutes initiate a new approach aiming to structure large-scale and highly visible multidisciplinary scientific powers on a single site. This is in order to better address major issues, at the crossroads between societal and economic challenges, as well as the concerns of the scientific community.

Keywords: Institut de convergence Inria Saclay - Île-de-France Intelligence artificielle Big data