Commonwealth Awards $5 Million to UMass Amherst to Support New Data Science Collaborative

August 23, 2016

The Baker-Polito administration announces a $5 million grant to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to establish the UMass Amherst Data Science/Cybersecurity Research and Education Collaborative, a public-private partnership designed to accelerate data science innovation in the Pioneer Valley region of Western Massachusetts. The state capital funding will support new, advanced computing equipment to be installed at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke.
Read this press release at UMass News & Media Relations
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. –Today the Baker-Polito administration announced a $5 million grant to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to establish the UMass Amherst Data Science/Cybersecurity Research and Education Collaborative, a public-private partnership designed to accelerate data science innovation in the Pioneer Valley region of Western Massachusetts. The Commonwealth’s investment will help drive the commercialization of new products and ideas, train a leading data science workforce and support collaborative regional economic development activities.
“In today’s rapidly evolving world, data science and cybersecurity are the fundamental building blocks of emerging technologies and essential to pushing the boundaries of commercial products and innovation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am incredibly excited about the potential for this center and the truly groundbreaking ideas it will unlock for students and their future employers.”
The grant follows the MassMutual Foundation’s 10-year, $15 million contribution to UMass Amherst to further the university’s world-class data science and cybersecurity research and education programs in western Massachusetts.
“This public-private partnership will play a vital role in connecting the Pioneer Valley to the Commonwealth’s innovation economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This partnership between the Commonwealth, UMass Amherst and MassMutual Foundation will strengthen the region’s technology cluster and build critical workforce skills.”
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is awarding the four-year grant on behalf of the Commonwealth through its Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant Program, a program supporting large-scale, long-term research projects that have high potential to spur innovation, cluster development, and job growth in the Commonwealth.
The state capital funding will support new, advanced computing equipment to be installed at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke. Faculty and students will be able to access the specialized equipment via computer nodes distributed at UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, the UMass Center in Springfield, and the UMass Center in Boston.
The Data Science/Cybersecurity Research and Education Collaborative will encourage and facilitate engagement of the Pioneer Valley innovation ecosystem with its unique positioning to connect leading academic institutions, extensive computer capacity at the MGHPCC, global sector leaders, such as MassMutual, and investment and incubation efforts that can fully exploit the region’s assets and help UMass Amherst secure highly competitive federal research grants. The regional collaboration will also yield a high-level talent and skills pipeline in data analytics and cybersecurity that has the potential to further distinguish the region’s attractiveness for established and growing businesses.
“We are proud to partner with corporations like MassMutual who understand the vital role UMass plays in educating a highly-skilled workforce and in fueling innovation that is essential to a world-class 21st century economy,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “The Baker-Polito administration’s forward-thinking investments in emerging fields such as data science and cybersecurity are positioning Massachusetts and its communities for success, and I thank Governor Baker for his leadership and his continued support for UMass.”
“As the Commonwealth’s flagship campus, UMass Amherst strategically aligns its research and teaching mission with the needs of Massachusetts,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “We are grateful to the Baker-Polito administration for their investment in this public-private partnership that will help leverage the MassMutual Foundation’s support and provide the Commonwealth and its citizens new opportunities in the critical areas of data science and cybersecurity.”
The new collaborative will also receive matching funds from private sources, a vital aspect of the partnership between industry, academia, and government this initiative hopes to pursue. The grant made to UMass Amherst in June by the MassMutual Foundation—a dedicated corporate foundation established by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual)—will support the hiring of additional faculty; increase both the number of data science courses and the size of the master’s program in computer science; provide new research and education activities, and establish a new Trust Assurance Cybersecurity certificate.
“Through innovation and talent, Massachusetts is quickly becoming a nationally recognized hub for big data and cybersecurity, and we are pleased that Governor Baker is committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth will continue to be at the forefront of these fundamentally critical areas,” said Roger Crandall, chairman, president and CEO of MassMutual. “With Governor Baker and his administration, MassTech, UMass and MassMutual Foundation all working together, we are creating an even better future together for our students, our workforce and our economy—both in the Pioneer Valley and throughout the Bay State.”
Together, these new courses and degree programs will accelerate research, discovery, knowledge development and workforce training, leading to improved regional economic conditions, business development and job creation in key sectors of the state’s economy: insurance and financial services, cybersecurity, and digital health. Courses will be offered at both UMass Amherst and the UMass Center in Springfield. The state grant funding requires the establishment of an innovation-based cluster development action agenda for the region focused on these priority sectors.
“A great big thanks to MassTech Collaborative for their $5 million grant to UMass Amherst. This support and the other federal and private support it will leverage will help train the workforce of the future in this fast growing industry here in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg.
“As I have met with innovators across the state, I have become more convinced than ever that Big Data and data analytics will be the next sector to provide our state with a strong economic future,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “Given our discussions with leaders from the worlds of education, business and technology in the Pioneer Valley, via the Bay State Business Link, I know this initiative will create opportunities for innovation in the Western part of our state. I thank the Baker-Polito administration for their collaboration.”
The Baker-Polito administration’s economic development strategy prioritizes research and development in high-potential emerging technology areas. The administration’s economic development legislation, signed into law by Governor Baker on Aug. 10, provides an additional $15 million state capital investment into the Scientific and Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund, the fund which supports the Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant Program.
“The Baker-Polito administration is committed to growing a highly skilled workforce, and the Pioneer Valley is at the forefront of creating a comprehensive talent pipeline,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.“From state support for computer coding at the K-12 level, to community college curricula that teach foundational data and cyber skills, to MassMutual-sponsored efforts to increase the number of women in data science,and through the advanced data analytics and cybersecurity programs that this new data collaborative will leverage, we are building the workforce skills our residents need to compete globally.”
“This new collaborative can serve as a model of progressive collaboration on advanced technology initiatives such as data analytics and cybersecurity where we can realize an immediate and sustainable impact on the regional tech economy in the Pioneer Valley,” said Pat Larkin, interim executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “With this grant, we are bringing together world-class academic research with global industry leaders and a future skilled workforce that will meet the demand of the exploding data and cybersecurity challenges and have a positive impact on the region’s economy.”
Story image: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker at the grant announcement August 17 - Photo Credit: Thom Kendall for UMass Amherst

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