Membership Benefits

Tier 1

Tier 2

Cirrus

Global Collaboration Network Integration with Ambassador Advisory Network
Partner and Affiliate program Integration with Ambassador Advisory Network
Co-development program Integration with Ambassador Advisory Network
Open Learning
Summer and Winter programs
Salons and teatime sessions
Academic programs Priority Access
Research to Communication program Priority Access
Digital Asset Locker Priority Access
Sandbox Priority Access
HPC platform Priority Access
Research support Priority Access
Infrastructure programs (FABRIC hank node, Open Storage Network etc) Priority Access
Right to host events at Consortium forums
Inclusion on Consortium led contracts Priority inclusion through Ambassador Advisory Network
Ambassador Advisory Network
Distribution of Consortium Member’s marketing material

Cirrus FOUNDRY

Monthly classes events and workshops
Academic programs Priority Access

Cirrus FOUNDRY Fund

Pre-seed

Membership Benefits Explained

Global Collaboration Network

The Global Collaboration Network is responsible for proactively developing and managing substantive collaborative relationships covering all that the Cirrus has to offer, from research and talent to start-up development.

As the collaboration efforts are focused on solving real world problems, relationships with industry are essential to ensure that faculty and students are engaged in relevant work. These complementary relationships benefit the corporate participants, universities and broader society through development of talent, knowledge and application.

Partner and Affiliate program

The Affiliate program will enable corporate entities to interact with Cirrus and take advantage of a variety of programs and activities. The Partner program supports close engagement with a small number of corporate entities and is focused on active research collaboration.

Affiliate program

The Affiliate program will enable corporate entities to interact with Cirrus and take advantage of a variety of programs and activities including:

  • Website and publication exposure.
  • Annual orientation covering all the Cirrus resources, activities and programs.
  • Insight into research and projects being undertaken in the academic programs and ability to engage with faculty and students.
  • Invitations to lectures and workshops.
  • Direct interaction with students and student groups for recruitment and ability to host recruiting events such as tech talks and roundtables.
  • Connection to university recruiting focused departments.
  • Discounts on in person Summer and Winter programs.
  • Engagement with the Cirrus FOUNDRY start-ups providing insight into transformative new technologies and business opportunities.
  • Networking events and the opportunity to connect with leaders from other top universities, companies and start-ups from around the world.
  • Ability of the Affiliate to leverage the sponsorship in terms of publicity.

Partner program

The Partner program supports close engagement with a small number of corporate entities and is focused on active research collaboration. Partnerships under the Partner program are tailored to ensure mutual benefit and include all the benefits of the Affiliate program, with the addition of:

  • Insight and access to research and technology prior to public release.
  • Access to the Pitch, a networking event where the Cirrus FOUNDRY start-ups present to Partners.
  • Workshops to explore joint research opportunities.
  • Hosting of Partner data for research projects including training systems and deriving insights.
  • Targeted support for student researchers and research projects.
  • Participation in seed-funded projects.
  • Placement for visiting fellow.
  • Company day at Cirrus.

Co-development

The Co-development program is a collaborative program spanning academia and industry focusing on the co-development of Cirrus related infrastructure.

This includes collaboration with hardware and software providers to support integrated solutions that amongst other things, improve performance, reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency.

Open Learning

The Open Learning program is to ensure all material originating from Cirrus and used in the teaching of Cirrus internal courses will be made freely available, including through the web.

Summer and Winter programs

These in person one-week and two-week programs are intended for faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, professionals, and others who would like to gain an understanding for their respective fields, new research directions, and industry applications.

Salons and teatime sessions

Salons and teatime sessions are open gatherings for the exchange of knowledge and ideas intended to facilitate the growth and development of a vibrant AI community.

Salons

Inspired by the enlightenment-era salons, the monthly salon will provide an opportunity to bring all Cirrus participants together in a face-to-face exchange of ideas through conversation, devoid of modern entanglements such as PowerPoint presentations and time constraints.

Teatime sessions

Teatime sessions will be organised on a weekly basis as talks/presentations/show-and-tell on various topics pertaining to AI. All material from the session will be made available online.

Academic programs

The Academic programs are intended to substantially improve undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate student opportunities through the following:

Residency program

The 12-month program will be similar to spending a year in a Masters or PhD program in machine learning. Residents will read papers, work on research projects, and will be encouraged to publish their work. By the end of the program, residents will have significant research experience in machine learning. Residents will have the opportunity to be mentored by scientists and engineers from various teams within Cirrus and will work on real world machine learning problems and applications. In addition, they will have the opportunity to collaborate and partner closely with various research and applied groups across Cirrus. Typical candidates will have a BS, MS or PhD or equivalent experience in STEM field such as Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, Physics, Engineering or Materials Science. However, applications will not be restricted to these fields, as the interest is in individuals who are motivated to learn and have a strong interest and passion for machine learning.

PhD Internship program

In this 5-month program interns will collaborate with scientists and engineers to design, implement and evaluate machine learning algorithms and techniques. Interns will engage in team collaborations to meet research goals, report and present research findings and developments. Interns will bridge the gap between research and products by integrating new fundamental research into applied projects and identifying interesting real world problems to research. This program will be targeted at interns that are studying towards a PhD in machine learning or a related field and are in their penultimate or final year of study.

Postdoc program

The 12-month program is for graduating PhD students, ideally suited for those wanting to become leaders in the field. The program provides the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research, both theoretical and applied, providing the necessary expertise prior to moving into industry or a faculty position.

The post holder will have considerable freedom to pursue novel research projects within Cirrus areas of interest, either individually or in collaboration with team members. There is also the opportunity to have research outcomes realised in new products and services through the Cirrus FOUNDRY.

The postdoctoral position provides the opportunity to:

  • Gain research experience with expert guidance in a multidisciplinary setting.
  • Earn authorship credit.
  • Participate in the Open Learning program, salons, teatime sessions, in person Summer and Winter programs, seminars, lectures, and conferences.

Postdocs will have a PhD in a relevant discipline and the ability to contribute at the leading edge of research, or in its application.

Assistantship program

The duration of the Assistantship program will vary depending on the requirement. It is designed to combine specialised technical skills with research experience in order to enable innovative research. The Assistantship program will therefore provide the capability to support projects where specialised analysis, visualisation, or development skills will enhance a project or are required for its success.

The Assistantship position provides the opportunity to:

  • Consult and provide assistance to researchers in addressing a wide range of data challenges.
  • Develop and deliver training for students, faculty, and staff (to be included in the Open Learning Program).
  • Collaborate with researchers on projects requiring machine learning, data engineering, data visualisation, programming and computational skills.

Intern program

The duration of this program is based on continued business need, availability of funding, and satisfactory job performance. Assignments may include:

  • Community and events coordinator
  • Communications
  • Graphic design

Research to Communication program

The Research to Communication (RtC) program is a program to assist researchers in ensuring research is clearly and concisely conveyed to a broad audience. Such communication skills are of vital importance and Cirrus will therefore offer programs to researchers that provide assistance and coaching to enhance their presentation skills in communicating the results of their work.

Digital Asset Locker

Digital assets consist of reusable software components and workflows that have been designed and validated.

They are designed for use in similar applications while being flexible enough to be adapted to address new applications in the future. The digital assets will be available to access through various options including:

  • As a service.
  • Software licensing.
  • Collaborative R&D projects.

Sandbox

Cirrus will establish a sandbox environment. The sandbox environment will be utilised to train and test models too large for a conventional desktop or laptop and not large enough to warrant deployment on the Cirrus High Performance Computing (HPC) platform. The sandbox environment will also be used to prototype scaled down versions of models prior to running on the Cirrus HPC platform.

Cirrus HPC platform

Cirrus will establish a state-of-the-art HPC platform. This platform will be utilised for modelling efforts requiring substantial computing resources and is designed to support ground-breaking research in AI. The Cirrus computing platform will be developed in close collaboration with hardware and software providers resulting in a platform that provides cutting edge performance, reduces energy consumption and improves energy efficiency.

Research support

Cirrus engineering teams utilising the Cirrus infrastructure will work together with university to support cutting edge research. This includes:

  • An overhaul of how research data is generated and processed to significantly improve the quality and quantity of data.
  • Enabling the rapid processing of data to assist researchers in needed outputs like data visualisation for example.
  • The utilisation of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to support research efforts, including the identification of strategic research opportunities.
  • Alignment to international data commons and open access data initiatives.
  • Enabling researchers to easily apply the latest advances in AI to significantly improve research outcomes including cutting edge simulation work through the provision of full machine learning-in-the loop science, community machine learning benchmarking, and machine learning retraining with new data.

Infrastructure programs

Fabric hank node

FABRIC is a unique national research infrastructure to enable cutting-edge and exploratory research at-scale in networking, cybersecurity, distributed computing and storage systems, machine learning, and science applications. It is an everywhere programmable nationwide instrument comprised of novel extensible network elements equipped with large amounts of compute and storage, interconnected by high speed, dedicated optical links. It will connect a number of specialised testbeds (5G/IoT PAWR, NSF Clouds) and high-performance computing facilities to create a rich fabric for a wide variety of experimental activities.

It is the intention to connect the Cirrus HPC platform to the FABRIC testbed and establish the “hank” node for Africa. Additional information on FABRIC is available at: https://fabric-testbed.net

Open Storage Network

Open Storage Network (OSN) is a distributed data storage service providing petabytes of shared, easily accessible storage to support active data sharing and transfer between academic institutions, communities and projects, leveraging existing infrastructure. OSN facilitates scientific and scholarly research by improving data access and the re-use of high-value, high-impact datasets capable to accelerating discovery and generating synergies across new and existing science projects.

Cirrus intends to host an OSN pod. These pods are petabyte-sized distributed storage units with minimal administrative overhead, capable of high-throughput, high-speed large volume data transfers. Additional information on OSN is available at: https://www.openstoragenetwork.org/

Right to host events at Consortium events

Tier 1 Consortium Members will be allowed to host events at Consortium events and the Consortium will promote such events to attendees and in event marketing material.

Inclusion on Consortium led contracts

Tier 1 Consortium Members will be prioritised for inclusion on Consortium led contracts including grant submissions.

Ambassador Advisory Network

The Ambassador Advisory Network is a forum for Ambassadors to aid the Consortium through the following actions:

  • Serve as community builders making connections between people and resources within their local institution.
  • Provide recommendations for Consortium operations.
  • Provide recommendations on potential Consortium Members.
  • Provide recommendations on directives aimed at fulfilling the Consortium mission.

Distribution of marketing material

Cirrus will maintain and distribute marketing material, use cases, and position papers from Tier 1 Consortium Members. The Consortium will work to ensure such material are distributed to other Consortium Members and non-members as appropriate and promoted at Consortium hosted events.

Monthly classes, events, and workshops

University students, researchers and faculty, will be able to visit the Cirrus FOUNDRY each month for classes, events, and workshops.

Monthly classes, events and workshops will provide:

  • Case studies on AI companies.
  • Business coaching.
  • Interactive brainstorming.
  • Pitch competitions.
  • Meeting potential project partners.
  • Guidance on proof of concept for product validation and market identification.

Cirrus FOUNDRY Academic Programs

There are three Cirrus FOUNDRY Academic Programs.

Cirrus FOUNDRY PhD Internship program

In this 5-month program interns collaborate with scientists and engineers to design, implement and evaluate machine learning algorithms and techniques. They will also collaborate with entrepreneurs, financiers, and product managers. Interns engage in team collaborations to meet product goals and bridge the gap between research and products by integrating new research into applied projects and products. Interns will be studying towards a PhD in machine learning or a related field and are in their penultimate or final year of study.

Cirrus FOUNDRY Residency program

In this 12-month program residents actively contribute to start-ups in the Cirrus FOUNDRY. By the end of the program, residents will have significant experience of working in a real world start-up. Similar in nature to the Cirrus Residency Program, but incorporates a greater diversity of fields including finance, law, project management, marketing, communications and MBA’s. Targeted at individuals who are motivated to learn and have a strong interest and passion for the real world application of machine learning, particularly in a start-up context.

Partner and Affiliate program integration

Corporate participants in the Cirrus ecosystem will work with the Cirrus FOUNDRY start-ups to provide industry-specific knowledge and resources to reduce the latency in bringing innovations to market in addition to providing entrepreneurs with added visibility and mentorship. Corporate participants will also gain insight into transformative new technologies and business opportunities.

Investment and eligibility

For the majority of investments capital will be allocated at the pre-seed stage, with investments of up to 250 000 USD. The FOUNDRY Fund will also follow a lead investor in seed rounds, with investments of up to 500 000 USD.

The FOUNDRY Fund will invest in startups that have:

  • Cirrus student or alum from the Residency, PhD Internship, Postdoc or Assistantship programs.
  • Cirrus research scientist.
  • Participating university faculty member.
  • As well as any start-up using technologies based on Cirrus research.

Contact Us

Emeritus Professor Barry Dwolatzky
Membership.AIAfrica@wits.ac.za

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