Skip to main content

Spurring Innovation through Advanced Data Visualization Tools: Exploring How to Dynamically Identify and Connect Regional STEM Assets


The Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC), in collaboration with the Battelle Center for Mathematics & Science Education Policy at Ohio State University, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA and the 21st Century Partnership for STEM education, is examining how an advanced data visualization tool can accelerate and deepen regional partnerships designed to spur innovation in STEM-based industries and education. The project focuses on: (1) assessing the potential of advanced visualization tools using a robust sample of regional STEM partnership data records, (2) catalyzing the formation of a regional research and applications partnership around visual analytics in support of STEM education and innovation, and (3) developing a visual analytics research and development agenda that is responsive to academic, business and educational partners in the region. The primary work is to test an advanced data visualization tool - Starlight - to learn how it can organize and depict research, data, personnel and institutions in a dynamic visual environment to map connectivity between STEM assets. Ultimately, the project explores how to operationally and intellectually link tri-state regional assets into a dynamic network that supports a robust STEM innovation ecosystem. The robustness of a regional innovation ecosystem depends on the degree to which purposeful and dynamic connections are made between and among ideas, institutions and the individuals who work within this ecosystem - those engaged in university and private research, commercialization, business and finance, government and K-20 education. The making of such connections is driven by need and/or opportunity, as conditioned by situational awareness and the social, political and cultural characteristics of the regional ecosystem. The project is studying how visualization tools can help regional actors surmount the barriers to effective situational awareness that are caused by the plethora of actors and resultant large amounts of dispersed data.

Among the questions being asked in this project are:

How can we best understand, organize, and utilize a region’s STEM assets, including those funded by the NSF, to spur educational and economic innovation? How can Starlight be used to organize complex sets of information (STEM assets) to improve economic performance and accelerate the development of regional social capital?

How do the characteristics of key asset classes in the region compare to the characteristics of vibrant regional innovation centers?

What (a) visualization outputs and (b) user interfaces with the tools facilitate productive, collaborative engagement by key stakeholders with the process and outputs of visual analysis and mapping? Can we identify a common set of user interface characteristics that is effective across a wide range of stakeholder segments?


Start: August 01, 2010
End: July 31, 2013

Project Members:



Award Number: