(Photo courtesy of John Consoli/University of Maryland)
This editorial article is a part of Technical.ly's Office Trends month.
Universities have long been a source of new tech developments and talent, so it makes sense that businesses would want to stay up on what’s happening at campuses like the University of Maryland. In the case of financial services giant Capital One, the company is moving directly into College Park.
This month, the company opened the Capital One Tech Incubator inside the Diamondback Garage, a repurposed space along Baltimore Ave. that’s designed for startups.
With the innovation lab, Capital One is looking to tap into computer science talent. It’s part of a $3 million donation toward research and collaboration in machine learning and data science that the company is making. Company leaders believe working directly with the university can help create new technology that can be applied to banking.
“At Capital One, we are focusing on leading the next era of banking, which will be driven by breakthrough digital experiences operating in real time and powered by technology like machine learning,” said Gill Haus, senior vice president and chief information officer of retail, directing banking and delivery transformation for Capital One. “We believe that delivering transformative technology across the business will allow us to interact with our customers in a more natural, seamless, and accessible way, and also help our customers become more financially empowered.”
The 7,500 sq. ft. space is designed for flexibility, Haus said, and has an open area 32 sit-to-stand desks that can convert to a meeting area. The idea is that it has the same feel as a Capital One office. Plus, there’s a kitchen, lounge, conference room and lab space, along with a game room.
The company plans to house 30 UMD interns there per semester, working with its data science and machine learning teams.
“The Incubator will give UMD students in the computer science program the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom—in topics like data science and machine learning—to real-world problems and experiences,” Haus said. “Capital One data science and machine learning teams will be able to submit business projects for students to work on in the space.”
Along with the incubator, Capital One is also funding computer science research from UMD professor Furong Huang.
When the funding was announced last year, the company became the first private sector tenant to sign on with UMD’s Discovery District, which is designed to spur collaboration between universities, startups and larger companies. In the garage, the incubator will be located alongside a space from Adobe, as well as startups. WeWork is also opening in a nearby building, and it’s right behind a new hotel that’s in part designed to hold events. Earlier this week, Greenbelt cybersecurity startup Cybrary said it would move into the area, as well.
It’s not the only such campus lab for Capital One, but UMD is in good company. The company is utilizing a similar model at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and it was a founding sponsor of a UC Berkeley lab focused on how machines make intelligent decisions. Haus said the College Park space will “help to build a top-tier talent pipeline for Capital One from a top-ranked computer science program.”
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