education and knowledge

Polytechnique and Axa: the rise to a joint professorship

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If you walk down avenue Matignon in Paris, you can read, for a long time now, proudly covering the large shop window next to the main entrance of the building of AXA, world leader in insurance and asset management, the following confession: "For 30 years innovation has been at the heart of everything we do". (1) .
And on June 29th, such a public declaration of professional faith found a new echo among the best mathematicians in France and their skills in "computer science".

En the form of an announcement of a union of interests, a press release announces: "L'Ecole polytechnique (2) and AXA are pleased to announce the creation of a Chair on "Data Science for Insurance Sector". The academic responsibility of the Chair is entrusted to Michalis Varzigiannis. (3). This Chair will be devoted to research and teaching in data science and will support the research work carried out in the X laboratories as well as strengthening teaching by offering engineering students and students concrete case studies.

What does everyone put in the basket? AXA: problems to design, and... financing; and, for its part, Ecole Polytechnique: excellence in designing problems and formulating solutions... which new financial resources could better illustrate!

The meaning of the data

AXA talks of a revolution in the insurance industry, driven by the potential of data science, and particularly by the analysis and exploitation of the already famous Big Data, which will have a lasting impact on this market. Clearly, the aim is to improve the services offered, which can be individually tailored to the uses and needs of the beneficiaries. From this perspective, it is understandable that training and attracting students to data science professions in the insurance sector is an important issue.
"This partnership with Ecole Polytechnique represents a new step in our strategy to accelerate our digital transformation. We are convinced that the creation of this Chair in Data Science for Insurance is an essential new brick in our strategy to better understand the meaning of data and thus better serve and anticipate the needs of our customers. (…). This partnership is another example of our innovative spirit".says Stéphane Guinet, Chief Executive Officer of AXA Global Direct and member of the AXA Executive Committee.

Precisely, the objective of the Chair is:
- on the one hand, to promote project-based training for engineering students and students at X on the basis of numerous research subjects proposed jointly through new techniques (machine learning, risk management) which "unleash the potential of massive data for insurers";
- on the other hand, to support academic activities in several ways: funding of a new professorship at X, as well as "positions" for PhD and post-doctoral students to reinforce existing teams; also, funding of several events (a Data Challenge, an international scientific workshop on Big Data applied to risks on social media, to better understand and prevent them, ...).
In fact, this is the third Chair in the field of massive data in just a few months for X, as Jean-Bernard Lartigue, the General Delegate of the Ecole Polytechnique Foundation, reminds us, and he is delighted with this partnership with the AXA Group. "whose international base contributes to the School's reputation around the world".

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In his turn, Jacques Biot thanked AXA for the dynamism of the Chairs policy at the Ecole Polytechnique, which he chairs: 18 active Chairs. A way to do research, a way to create start-ups! Aware that it has to take into account international economic competition, X, he said, "believes in the power of technology; it produces and shares knowledge; it is interdisciplinary and of excellence.". Moreover, a building dedicated to entrepreneurship will be delivered on the school's site in July, illustrating the link between research and business.

At 6.30 pm, the official act of creation of the Chair receives the expected signatures. In this large room full of young people with a measured exchange of ideas, the creator of AXA just 30 years ago, himself a Polytechnique graduate, was there, a kind and benevolent man, true to himself. Claude Bébéar came down to dedicate the ceremony of his discreet presence there.

(

 

1) www.axa.com The AXA Group, with 161,000 employees serving 103 million clients, operates in 59 countries. In 2014, its IFRS revenues amounted to 92 billion euros and underlying earnings to 5.1 billion euros. As of December 31, 2014, AXA's assets under management amounted to Euro 1,277 billion.

(2) The Ecole polytechnique combines research, teaching and innovation at the highest scientific and technological level. Its training promotes a culture of excellence with a strong scientific focus, open to a great humanist tradition. It is largely international (30% of its students, 23% of its teaching staff). 

(3) Professor at the Computer Science Laboratory of the Ecole Polytechnique (LIX)

 

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