A-B InBev Heads to Campus with Big Data-Focused 'Bud Lab'

Initiatives Include Research, Social Media Analytics

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Anheuser-Busch InBev is pairing beer, college students and big data at a new analytics center at the University of Illinois Research Park.

The initiative, called "Bud Lab," will focus on data analytics, data research and innovation to "solve problems ranging from assortment optimization, social media and market trends to large-scale data initiatives, " according to a statement posted on the website of the research park.

The program is the latest example of a marketer relying on a university to help boost its access to talent in the fast-growing data sciences field. IBM, for instance, partners with academic programs across the globe, including some that are developed in conjunction with clients such as General Motors (at Michigan State University) and GlaxoSmithKline (at Yale).

Claudio Garcia, A-B InBev's chief people and technology officer, said in the statement that the Bud Lab gives the brewer a "permanent presence on campus" putting it "at the edge of leading research and innovation, working together with some of the best minds in key fields including statistics, computer science, business and engineering."

The lab is led by Rafael Pinterich, who has held several roles at A-B InBev, including project specialist, regional finance director and people and human resources lead at the brewer's Latin America North division. At the Bud Lab, Mr. Pinterich will select and implement experimental projects, while working with students, "guiding their work and providing them with experiences that will complement university knowledge," according to the statement.

The News-Gazette newspaper of Champaign-Urbana, Ill. reported that four interns already began work on two projects this summer, including one that involves social-media data analysis.

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