Cover: Opportunities for an Artificial Intelligence–Focused Research Hub in Jackson, Mississippi

Opportunities for an Artificial Intelligence–Focused Research Hub in Jackson, Mississippi

Published Jun 20, 2024

by Vanessa Parks, Bridget R. Kane, Lewis Schneider, Gary Cecchine

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The existing research infrastructure of Jackson, Mississippi, presents an opportunity to meet a growing need for education, workforce development, and leadership in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. In this report, the authors outline approaches to developing an AI-focused research hub in Jackson. Such a hub would create the opportunity for community partners and stakeholders to collaborate. This would potentially bring together efforts from various local institutions, such as universities, businesses, hospitals, and government and military installations.

The report describes (1) ways existing research hubs (such as research parks and laboratories) have been developed, (2) potential barriers to and opportunities for Mississippi to develop a research hub of this scale, and (3) what current opportunities in AI research Mississippi may be best poised to address given current capabilities and partnerships.

The analysis is informed by a scoping review of information about research parks, National Laboratories, and other collaborative research efforts; a review of AI research priorities; and interviews with key stakeholders in Mississippi. The authors combine information about existing needs in the AI research space with existing research and technology capabilities in Mississippi to derive a suite of options for the development of a research hub in Jackson.

Key Findings

  • There are several strategies for organizing and supporting a research hub. A constellation model that includes multiple partners colocated in Jackson could provide partnering organizations the autonomy to pursue their own research agendas while sharing resources and space with other local partners. A hub and spoke model could connect Jackson to other regional and national research centers, National Laboratories, and military installations.
  • Mississippi's existing research and development capabilities could support AI applications in the areas of environment and critical infrastructure, health, education and community development, AI trust, and defense and homeland security.
  • Involved stakeholders were uncertain about the potential leadership and focus of the research hub but were encouraging and optimistic about the potential for conducting research that can support Mississippi and the broader nation, as well as support economic and community development. The direction of the research hub will likely become clearer as key stakeholders continue working together in collaboration.

Research conducted by

This research was funded by the Great City Foundation and conducted by Community Health and Environmental Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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