Governor Patrick, MIT and Intel Announce Massachusetts Big Data Initiatives

(photo credit: Bob Zurek)

Today is a milestone for our Big Data Cluster with announcements by Governor Patrick, MIT CSAIL, and Intel that will further position the state at the epicenter of the global big data revolution. Following are highlights from today’s announcements and ongoing activities of the MassTLC Big Data Cluster.

Citing the job growth potential outlined in MassTLC’s recent report, Big Data and Analytics: A Major Opportunity for Massachusetts, Governor Patrick announced the “Massachusetts Big Data Initiative” which includes:

  • Creation of a Big Data Consortium and the designation of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke as a major public-private resource for Big Data;
  • A Big Data research and development matching grant program, to be administered through the Mass Tech Collaborative;
  • A Big Data internship program modeled after the Life Sciences and Clean Energy internship programs, also to be administered through the Mass Tech Collaborative;
  • A Big Data initiative through the Governor’s Innovation Council to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government services; 
  • Support for Hack/Reduce, an innovative non-profit community “hackspace” where people working with Big Data can share infrastructure resources and knowledge.

MIT President Susan Hochfield and Daniela Rus, director for MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), announced a major new initiative called bigdata@CSAIL to tackle the challenges of “big data” — data collections that are too big, growing too fast, or are too complex for existing information technology systems to handle. Sam Madden, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT will lead the “bigdata@CSAIL” initiative.

View the bigdata@csail video

Intel Corporation announced that it is establishing the new Intel Science and Technology Center (ISTC) for Big Data at MIT’s CSAIL. Intel CTO Justin Rattner added to the case for big data in Massachusetts when he announced that “Intel chose MIT’s CSAIL to host its new big data center after a competition involving 155 colleges and universities across the US.” He continued that “CSAIL is one of the top places in the world that brings together people who build computational platforms like databases and networks and people who work on algorithms and machine learning techniques with people who have expertise in specific domains such as finance, medicine and security. These are the skills we need for taming big data.”

Since convening our first Big Data Summit in early 2011 (see WSJ highlights), MassTLC has been an advocate and catalyst for the big data ecosystem here in Massachusetts. In January of this year we identified 120 companies in the Boston area currently engaged in Big Data technologies including a growing number of startups. We also noted that global companies such as EMC, Google, IBM, and Oracle are making significant investments in Massachusetts big data research and development.

MassTLC’s research revealed that Massachusetts Big Data technology vendors today employ about 12,000 workers, and that local industries such as healthcare, financial services, life sciences/computational biology, consumer products, and on-line media are estimated to employ another 58,000 big data-related workers, often referred to as data scientists or data-savvy managers. Growth in both big data technology companies and in related fields using data analytics could add 50,000 additional jobs by 2018, bringing the state total to as many as 120,000, making it one of the state’s key economic drivers.  

Moving into 2012, MassTLC’s Big Data Cluster has already brought together over 400 executives at a variety of special forums and seminars. The Council’s big data research team also ran an executive Big Data survey, interviews, and forecasting roundtable with C-level executives, investors, and policy leaders. The Council will be releasing key findings from this research in the coming weeks.

As we look into the findings, it is clear that Big Data will require new technological, analytical and design skills, thus posing an important challenge for the state.  In the coming months, MassTLC will conduct additional research to ascertain key opportunities to leverage Massachusetts’ cluster of educational institutions to address this potential skills gap. The Council’s Talent Skills Analysis research is expected to be completed this fall.

Read the Boston Globe coverage of today’s announcements.

For further information on the Big Data Cluster and the Big Data Report, contact Sara Fraim, Director of Programs, at sara@masstlc.org. For information on membership, contact Amy Black, VP of Membership, at amy@masstlc.org.

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