About Big Insight


Fulfilling the promise of the big data revolution, BIG INSIGHT shall produce deep analytical tools to extract knowledge from complex data and deliver BIG INSIGHT. Despite extraordinary advances in the collection and processing of information, much of the potential residing in contemporary data sources remains unexploited. There is a dramatic scope for industries, companies and nations –including Norway – to create value from employing novel ways of analysing complex data. BIG INSIGHT brings together seven outstanding Norwegian companies, each market leaders in their own areas and not competitors with each other, two major public Norwegian service agencies, and skilful scientists of the Departments of Mathematics, Biostatistics and Computer Science of the University of Oslo (UiO), the Department of Mathematics of the University of Bergen (UiB) and Norsk Regnesentral (NR). They all recognise the immense potential residing in an innovative analysis of their valuable data.

Gjensidige, with a third of the Norwegian insurance market, aims to develop innovative individual risk pricing and product strategies and wants to sharpen fraud detection. For DNB, the largest Norwegian bank and financial institution, the central challenges are improved customer relationship management (CRM) models, new methods to identify money laundering processes, and more precise quantification of individual probabilities of default in credit risk. Telenor, one of the world's largest mobile telecommunications companies, will develop new personalised marketing strategies based on the segmentation of customers, as well as introducing mobile financial services in emerging markets. Norsk Hydro, one of the largest aluminium companies worldwide and a major player in the electricity market, needs more precise predictions of electricity prices in highly complex integrated markets and a causal understanding of the price structure. The multinational corporation ABB, one of the largest engineering companies in the world, and DNV GL, the world’s largest ship and offshore classification society and provider of services for managing risk, aim to develop highly efficient and safe inspection and maintenance protocols, predicting operational drift and failures based on huge numbers of sensors. OUS, the Oslo University Hospital, one of the largest health enterprises in Scandinavia, and DNV GL will exploit sensor-based real time monitoring of patients and healthcare institutions to increase patient safety. OUS, through its Cancer Registry of Norway, will develop new individualised screening protocols for cancer. The Norwegian Institute for Public Health is a national competence centre for the government, the health service, the judiciary authorities, the media and the general public on issues related to physical and mental health, prevention of communicable diseases and prevention of harmful environmental influences.The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration,  NAV, administers a third of the national budget in terms of welfare benefits and sees a huge saving potential in new methods for detecting fraud and mis-payments. Skatteetaten, the Norwegian tax administration agency responsible for tax collection, is concerned with the detection and individualised prediction of tax avoidance and evasion, and an improved individualised distribution of tax guidance.

These highly ambitious innovation aims of BIG INSIGHT’s partners, coupled with the availability of new data sources, share a core set of fundamental statistical challenges:

  • to move away from operation based on average and group behaviour towards segmenting populations, customers and sensors for individualised actions;
  • to increment carefully planned trials and surveys, with real time in-vivo experimentation, to discover preferences and improve performance;
  • to predict the evolution of transient phenomena for system or populations, which are not in equilibrium, and to design intervention strategies for their control. 

BIG INSIGHT will therefore focus on two Central Innovation Themes, shared by the partners: personalised solutions and predicting transient phenomena. The complexity, diversity and dimensionality of the data, and our partner’s demanding objectives, pose fundamentally new challenges to statistical inference. We will develop original, cutting-edge statistical, mathematical and machine learning methods, produce high-quality software implementing these approaches and thereby deliver unique, powerful, and operational solutions.

While working on the innovation aims of the consortium partners, BIG INSIGHT will produce deep generic analytical tools to extract knowledge from complex data. Through training, capacity building and outreach, BIG INSIGHT will contribute to growth and progress in the private and public sector, in science and society at large, preparing a new generation of statisticians ready for the knowledge economy of the future. BIG INSIGHT’s first-rate team of statisticians, data scientists and mathematicians, from Norsk Regnesentral, the University of Oslo, the University of Bergen and from abroad, provide world-wide leading competence and have a particularly successful track record of delivering value in industrial projects. This unprecedented cluster of strength gives a unique opportunity for the partners and the Norwegian knowledge economy at large. This figure shows how research based innovation is organised in BIG INSIGHT.

Innovation themes and BIG INSIGHT’s objectives

The industrial, business and public partners of BIG INSIGHT have different core activities, yet they shall unite in the centre to attack together a set of common challenges, the solution of which will shape their coming years and their enterprise identities:     

  1. The first common theme for our partners is to offer a radically new collection of products, services and instruments that adapt to and target individual needs and conditions, thus providing dramatically improved quality and efficacy. Identifying highly specific segments allows tailoring products and services more precisely. From each partner’s perspective, individual stands for customer, user, patient, citizen, ship, company, sensor, smart power meter, tax payer, etc 
  2. The second common objective for our partners is to empower their own decisions with precise predictions of critical quantities, which are unstable and in dynamic transition, in order to enable intervention and control. Again, the future quantities for each partner are different –customer retention probabilities, cancer survival, electricity prices, probability of success of a new product, recovered taxes, service reliability, etc. 

Therefore BIG INSIGHT identifies two Central Innovation Themes:

that mirror these key challenges and are supported by high quality data of unprecedented availability, at the needed scales. Click on these themes in blue above to find out more.


The traditional tool box of statistics and machine learning will be the fundamental resource, among others in these areas: clustering, focused inference, functional data analysis, graphical models, hierarchical Bayesian models, data integration, model comparison and model improvement, multiple testing, multivariate dependence and copula models, extreme value theory, non-parametric Bayes, non-stationary and non-linear stochastic processes and time series, sequential inference, stochastic geometry and space time models, subsampling and data thinning.