The organization of chaos gets an award

Organization is essential to success in innovation processes, as in all activities. Having the information (data) needed to establish priorities, plan, manage time and resources, and make the right decisions is part of the process. Perhaps that is why the European Commission, through its Joint Research Centre (JRC), has given an award for the most innovative SME to a company in Barcelona whose work explores chaos in big data.

Sparsity is a spin-off created in 2010 by members of the Data Management Group (DAMA UPC), which forms part of CIT UPC. Under the leadership of Josep Lluis Larriba, who is also the director of DAMA, the company specializes in the management of large volumes of information, a task complicated by the information being widely dispersed (hence the company’s name, Sparsity). The use of relational systems to find answers to very complex questions could take too long, longer than the time estimated to solve the specific problem. However, Sparsity can successfully explore this chaos to – for example – manage mobility in large cities in which the optimization of journeys in private cars, public transport or on foot could lead to considerable savings of time and resources.

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The type of calculations that Sparsity carries out could be applied to almost any field. For example, it is being used to detect the most influential Twitter users and to organize audiences into areas of interest by topic, location, and other factors. It is also being used to monitor the buying and selling of houses, using patterns to detect fraud, and even in the analysis of ecommerce to identify opportunities on the basis of user behaviour.

A few months ago, the European Commission assessed 279 ICT-related projects that had received European funds through the Seventh Framework Programme and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. The aim was to see how these projects had developed, and identify the innovative potential of companies and institutions. Sparsity was selected as the most innovative SME, and Barcelona as the main centre for ICT innovation in Europe, ahead of London and Paris.

In the new situation in the world, business opportunities are changing rapidly, and value is shifting from raw materials and real estate transactions to the knowledge economy. Much of international trade is based on not only the products and services that are offered, but also how they are sold and managed. As a result, ICT companies are taking over from multinational energy companies, production and mass consumption in the selective indexes of international markets.

At CIT UPC, we are proud of Sparsity and of the participants in this initiative: university researchers who are committed to developing their innovation projects on the market, and offering high added value solutions to other companies and organizations. The European Commission’s award shows that we are on the right track, and that the application of scientific and technological knowledge is essential to increase business competitiveness.

The organization of disorder gets an award, and confirms the words of José Saramago in The Double: “Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered”.

Note: The European Committee has announced the first Innovation Radar prize, to recognize the most promising initiatives in EU-funded projects. If you want to support Sparsity’s entry for the award, you can vote here.

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