UMSL among 8 regional research institutions partnering to establish Taylor Geospatial Institute

The logo for the new Taylor Geospatial Institute and its eight member institutions

The Taylor Geospatial Institute is bringing together the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Harris-Stowe State University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Saint Louis University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Missouri–Columbia, University of Missouri–St. Louis and Washington University in St. Louis and will act as a hub supporting a collaborative research and training environment.

Leaders from St. Louis’ business, civic, academic and governmental communities  came together Thursday to celebrate the launch of the Taylor Geospatial Institute, a first-of-its-kind institution that brings together eight leading research institutions – including the University of Missouri-St. Louis – to collaborate on research into geospatial technology.

The establishment of the Institute implements one of the key components of the GeoFutures Strategic Roadmap, the St. Louis region’s plan to become the world’s geospatial center in the next decade.

“Geospatial is the critical technology in nearly everything we do, and it is imperative that St. Louis have the world’s leading geospatial research institution to fulfill our promise as the global center for geospatial technology in the next decade,” said Andrew C. Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. and founding chair of Greater St. Louis, Inc., in announcing the new institute. “It is my hope that this institute will cement St. Louis as the world’s true center for geospatial excellence.”

The Taylor Geospatial Institute is funded by a legacy investment from Taylor with supporting investments from each of the eight member institutions: the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Harris-Stowe State University, Missouri University of Science & Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri–St. Louis and Washington University in St. Louis. The institute will be housed initially at Saint Louis University.

It builds on St. Louis’ significant geospatial assets and accelerates the region’s position as the global center of geospatial innovation, impact, and excellence.

“This landmark investment from Andrew C. Taylor will put St. Louis at the heart of the geospatial future,” Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello said. “The Taylor gift also puts the heart of St. Louis at the center of geospatial advancements. The Taylor Geospatial Institute will be a model for how scientific innovation, developed through authentic collaboration, can serve the greater good and support solutions to some of the most pressing needs of our time.”

“UMSL is excited to partner with Saint Louis University and the other members in the formation and development of the Taylor Geospatial Institute,” said Andrew Kersten, dean of UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the institute’s governing council. “For St. Louis to become the global hub for geospatial science, tradecraft and technology, all universities in the region must work together. The Taylor Geospatial Institute provides one important platform for us all to collaborate. We in the College of Arts Sciences – from the faculty to the staff in the UMSL Geospatial Collaborative – look forward to working with the other members of the new institute.”

Collectively, the eight member institutions encompass more than 5,000 faculty and 100,000 students and enable the Taylor Geospatial Institute to attract research talent and opportunities not available to each institution operating independently.

By bringing together research institutions from across the St. Louis region, the Taylor Geospatial Institute will act as a hub for access to and development of technology powered by big data analytics and computing resources to support a collaborative research and training environment with a focus on:

  • Food security – informing climate-smart farming practices while simultaneously increasing biodiversity and agricultural output.
  • Core geospatial science & computation – leveraging an interdisciplinary network of knowledge, technology, and skills to make geospatial science more powerful and impactful.
  • Geospatial health – measuring location and its influence on community health to improve healthcare systems and outcomes throughout the world.
  • National security – maintaining a leading edge over adversaries through innovation in cutting-edge technologies and a commitment to creating a highly-skilled geospatial workforce.

Implementing the GeoFutures Strategic Roadmap, Speaking with One Voice as a Region

Announced in the summer of 2020, the GeoFutures Strategic Roadmap laid out a bold vision to strengthen St. Louis’ role as the global center for geospatial technology by 2030. One of the Roadmap’s strategic priorities was the establishment of an innovation collaborative that would, among other things, promote research into and development of geospatial applications.

“The Taylor Geospatial Institute not only fulfills the call in the GeoFutures Strategic Roadmap for a geospatial research institution,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc., of which GeoFutures is an initiative, “but it also exemplifies the new spirit of collaboration we see in St. Louis. A spirit that says to move forward and accomplish big things we must work as one metro and speak with one voice.”

Building the Geospatial Talent Pool for the Future

In addition to conducting research, the Taylor Geospatial Institute will establish St. Louis as the destination for top-notch talent and the next generation of geospatial scientists and engineers. Among the Institute’s offerings are the Taylor Institute Fellows program, a robust visitors program, flexible funding, startup packages, access to cutting-edge technologies and computing infrastructure.

It will engage faculty, postdoctoral and graduate students, and visiting scientists, providing them with state-of-the-art indoor, mobile and airborne imaging capabilities; research computing infrastructure; and access to regional innovation hubs. All of this will take place just a short distance away from the Next NGA West campus, under construction northwest of downtown, and a thriving geospatial startup and business scene.

 

Watch the video that premiered during Thursday’s launch event:

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