For Immediate Release

October 30, 2019

Contact: Elliott Church, Big Data Ignite Co-Founder and Co-Director, 616-848-5188 

Local and industry leaders bring big data conference to West Michigan 

The Big Data Ignite conference, now in its fourth year, is drawing attention from big companies including Initech, Snowflake, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, SpinDance, and others.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Big Data Ignite started out as a big vision by a small group of people: to make the greater Grand Rapids area a center of excellence for data analytics, IoT, and cloud computing. Growing from local meetups, Big Data Ignite (BDI) organized its first annual conference in 2016. 

According to BDI co-founders Elliott Church and Tuhin Mitra, “West Michigan has a history of success as a provider of high-skill services and high-tech components. This success stems in an important part from West Michigan’s strategic adoption of new technologies and persistent nurturing of high-skill trades. To perpetuate and amplify this record of success, West Michigan must stay abreast of new and emerging technologies.

“The science and practice of data collection, management, and analysis is growing and changing at an enormous rate. Astute practitioners and organizations are deriving competitive advantage from a host of emerging and ever-improving tools. At the same time, new tools present new problems. The purpose of Big Data Ignite is to engage practitioners, decision-makers, and educators in a well-informed discussion about what works, what doesn’t, and what’s coming in data analytics, IoT, and cloud computing.”

Now in its fourth year, Big Data Ignite continues to grow, this year launching a research division headed by experienced data scientists Michael Bloem and Marie Mooney. The BDI research division aims to develop local intelligence about how West Michigan organizations can best leverage existing and emerging data technologies for success. At this year’s conference, lead researchers Omar Malik and Michael Bloem will report on case studies and data analysis that the research team has recently completed.

The Big Data Ignite conference has attracted numerous well-known sponsors, including Google Cloud, Comcast, and Amazon Web Services, as well as robust support from academic and business partners, including Grand Valley State University, Calvin University, and Spectrum Health, to name a few. Big Data Ignite also attracts sponsorship from tech-industry leaders, such as Snowflake and Confluent, which have been recognized as being in the top 50 companies to work for and the top 50 startups nationwide.

Local leaders in the tech space also play an essential role in bringing Big Data Ignite to West Michigan. Initech Global, this year’s event sponsor, has offices in Grand Rapids, MI and in India. According to Initech CEO Nagesh Gummadavelly, Initech’s goal is to “turn data into information, and information into insight.” Big Data Ignite seeks to put West Michigan practitioners and decision-makers on a path to achieve this goal.

Companies like SpinDance, a Holland-based IoT provider, Spectrum Health, and Grand Valley State University also have professionals attending and providing content during the many talks and workshops at Big Data Ignite. “The BDI programming committee, headed by local professors David Zeitler and Randall Pruim works hard to ensure that each talk at Big Data Ignite brings real and actionable value for practitioners and decision-makers,” added Church.

As a reflection of their efforts to stimulate broad participation in technology, over 30% of this year’s speakers are women or diverse professionals. In total, BDI is hosting nearly 60 speakers from a wide range of fields and disciplines, including college professors, data scientists, business founders, tech specialists, STEM educators, investigative reporters, and a Pulitzer prize winner. See the full line-up of speakers:

To register for Big Data Ignite 2019, visit A wide variety of ticket types are available. (Group prices are available for groups of five or more; inquire at

About Big Data Ignite

Big Data Ignite (BDI) is a nonprofit based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Its mission is to provide education, training, and research in areas of data technology and theory that hold the greatest potential for innovation and benefit, such as data science, machine learning, predictive analytics, IoT, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. BDI seeks to establish Michigan as a recognized center of excellence in these areas. BDI is also an umbrella organization for three local Meetup groups serving the tech community, namely, Data Science & Analytics of West Michigan, IoT West Michigan, and West Michigan Cloud Computing. We are always looking for new activities and partners to help achieve our mission.