Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and r4 Technologies, Ridgefield, Conn., announced a wide-ranging collaboration focused on applying artificial intelligence (AI) to new domains. The partnership will develop and apply AI solutions to structural challenges that have traditionally hindered growth and modernization in both the private and public sectors, and will train a new generation of students to thrive in a data-driven world.

The newly formed Cornell-r4 Applied AI Initiative will bring together cross-disciplinary scholars and industry experts to apply AI, data science, advanced mathematics and leading-edge technology to help solve business and societal problems. The initiative will focus on developing AI solutions to large scale industrial and societal challenges, and developing new courses that bring AI and data science to a broader range of students across the university.

The partnership’s core goals are:

• Delivering better economic outcomes for large organizations and businesses;

• Identifying new models of working that advance human potential; and

• Driving positive impact on societal and environmental challenges facing the world.

As part of the collaboration, Cornell faculty and graduate student teams will lead selected research areas and work closely with r4 and industry partners, with the initial research area focusing on “farm to table” challenges in the food industry. The initiative plans to address problems in consumer retail, supply chain management and forecasting while looking at broad societal challenges in optimizing the food chain to better align with predicted local demand patterns, thereby improving profitability for producers and retailers while reducing food waste.

The Cornell-r4 Applied AI Initiative will be co-chaired by Greg Morrisett, dean of computing and information science at Cornell, and Paul Breitenbach, founder and CEO of r4 Technologies.

“Cornell University believes in the vast potential of applied AI to achieve breakthrough solutions in business and society,” says Morrisett. “Our partnership with r4 Technologies puts us at the leading edge of academic discovery across crucial disciplines such as statistics, machine learning and optimization.”

“What makes this partnership unique is that it’s not just theoretical,” adds Breitenbach. “It’s about the actual application of AI at scale – for business, for education and for social good. Together, we will deliver real-world results for business. And, all future Cornellians will lead the new world they enter as AI natives, which will make them unique. This is Cornell University embracing its mission of ‘any student, any study’ for the next 100 years.”