SThAR is a business start-up based at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, applying innovative Big Data analytics to help organisations predict consumer behaviour and increase the effectiveness of social media campaigns.
As part of its Create Tomorrow program designed to nurture the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent, CA Technologies will donate 100,000 CHF ($105,000) in seed funding to SThAR through InnoGrant, an internal EPFL programme that works with organisations to fund industry-disrupting start-up projects.
“CA Technologies is proud to support EPFL’s InnoGrant programme and excited that the grant this year will be channelled into an exciting and innovative business initiative,” says Bjarne Rasmussen, vice president of Global Customer Success, CA Technologies. “The post-doctoral researchers and MBA graduate from SThAR are applying their science knowledge and experience to develop a cloud-based big data solution which has the potential to transform the effectiveness of marketing and electoral campaigns.”
“The support of InnoGrants and CA Technologies really made the difference in our leap from academia to the market,” says Alberto Hernando, co-founder, SThAR. “The funding allowed SThAR to develop the initial social analytics solution, which we can now take to the market, build demand and support ongoing client relationships. It is an immensely exciting project that solves real-world problems.”
The STEM skills gap is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout Europe, with too few students choosing to pursue the STEM skills required for the application economy. To address this issue, the Company is already investing CHF 200,000 annually in innovations under development by students at EPFL and Haute Ecole d’Ingénierie et de Gestion du Canton de Vaud (HEIG-VD), as part of a five year relationship.
The strategy is tightly aligned with the Company’s pledge to support the European Commission’s Grand Coalition on digital jobs, which aims to address the major shortfall in the development of IT expertise across the continent. It is also aligned with CA Technologies’ support for eSkills4jobs, the European Commission campaign to inform citizens about the range of opportunities presented by ICT-related jobs across 21 countries.
The SThAR solution—named ‘Demographica’—uses Big Data analysis to predict social trends and determine the necessary conditions for campaign virality. Demographica identifies and ranks geographic locations, based on their potential for the rapid propagation of information. This enables organisations to optimise the success of marketing or electoral campaigns, develop business strategies based on the quantitative forecasting of consumption patterns, and analyse human mobility to improve logistics networks. Founded by four post-doctoral researchers with specialisations in chemistry and physics, plus an MBA graduate, SThAR blurs the lines between what fields are useful in today’s application economy, and demonstrates the significance of seemingly unconnected fields.