Louisville unveils home for regional AI hub powered by Microsoft, names director

November 13, 2019

Mayor Greg Fischer today joined Microsoft U.S. Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Byrne to announce that Ben Reno-Weber will serve as Director of the Future of Work Initiative, the tech giant’s regional efforts around artificial intelligence, internet of things, and data science. They also cut the ribbon on the initiative’s home, Story Louisville powered-by-Microsoft, at 900 E. Main St.

“Artificial intelligence and internet of things are the future of technology. Through our alliance with Microsoft, Louisville will serve as ground zero for how we prepare our workforce and our companies for the next tech revolution and will do so with a focus on equity and inclusion,” Mayor Fischer said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We are excited to once again be joined by Jennifer Byrne and her team as we open the Story Louisville powered-by-Microsoft space, and we welcome Ben as director,” the mayor added. “Throughout his career, Ben has used technology and data to promote civic engagement and help Louisville identify how we can accelerate our positive momentum.”

Reno-Weber is a social entrepreneur, cofounder of social engagement company MobileServe, and project director of the independent, non-partisan civic data initiative The Greater Louisville Project. As director, he will help Louisville prepare for the future of work. This will include overseeing an AI, IoT and data science-focused team, working with local companies to help recognize the value latent in their data, and building a vibrant AI and IoT ecosystem.

“We are at the precipice of the next tech revolution, and this time, Louisville has the opportunity to position itself as a national and international leader,” Reno-Weber said. “We have a critical mass of companies, particularly in the health care and manufacturing industries, with significant data resources and infrastructure. It is up to us to build the culture, connections, and workforce that will unlock the potential that data has to improve people’s lives and grow our economy.”

In June, Louisville Metro and Microsoft signed the AI Innovation Digital Alliance establishing Louisville as the regional hub for AI, IoT and data science and creating the Future of Work Initiative.

With training and support from Microsoft, the Future of Work Initiative team will work with area businesses and with nonprofit, education, start-up, and workforce development organizations to provide training and support to help reskill and upskill Louisville’s workforce to meet the changing demands of the 21st century economy. Those interested in joining the Future of Work Initiative team can apply at https://loutechworks.org/futureofwork .

“We’re excited to be back in Louisville to officially open the Story Louisville powered-by-Microsoft space. Not only will this serve as a convening location for partnership initiatives and programming, it will also host the team leading the Future of Work Initiative,” said Jennifer Byrne, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Corp. “To that end, we’re delighted to welcome Ben Reno-Weber onboard as this initiative’s Director. Together, they will work closely with the city and Microsoft stakeholders to drive forward many of the AI adoption and digital skilling outcomes core to our Digital Alliance.

A goal of the AI Innovation Digital Alliance is to craft a comprehensive local strategy around the impacts of AI, IoT and data science technologies that can serve as a playbook for other communities amid the changing economic landscape.

As part of the AI Innovation Digital Alliance, Microsoft also will partner with pre-school through higher education providers on digital literacy training.

Microsoft will support AI-assisted applied research targeting challenges around racial disparities, the local entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, and Louisville Metro’s Digital Inclusion initiative to close the digital skills gap present in underinvested and disenfranchised communities.

“This alliance has a strong focus on investing in equity and inclusion. We intend for this tech revolution to empower all Louisville citizens to participate in the full range of opportunities created,” Reno-Weber said.

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