Report: Big data booms in Massachusetts


In Massachusetts, big data is big business.

A new report finds that 53 new big data companies have come to Massachusetts since 2014, bringing the number to 537 — a jump of about 10 percent.

The report by Mass Big Data, a project of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, also found that the number of schools offering data science certificate or degree programs rose from zero to five within the past three years:  Harvard, Northeastern, UMass Dartmouth, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Becker College. UMass Amherst recently opened new center for data science, although it does not have a degree program in data science.

Former Governor Deval Patrick launched an initiative two years ago to make Massachusetts a leader in the emerging big data industry. The report is an update to a 2014 inaugural report.

The report did not look at how Massachusetts compares to other states, focusing instead on how the industry is maturing here.

The report defines a big data company as one “whose main products and/or services directly relate to big data.” This includes industries that are heavily reliant on data analysis: marketing, financial tech, business analytics, and the life sciences.

Investors have taken note. The previous two years have seen an inflow of $2.4 billion in reported private investment in big data companies in the state. In addition, 194 big data projects in areas such as cybersecurity and the life sciences received federal funding. Since 2013, $115 million, most of it from the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation, has been awarded to Massachusetts companies.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology received the most federal grants —  23 since 2013 — followed by Harvard with 22.

Pat Larkin, director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech, said the state’s research institutions are driving the growth in big data.

“Big data, data science, data analytics… I see nothing but growth for big data’s capability in the state,” Larkin said.

Globe correspondent Amanda Burke can be reached at [email protected]
Follow Amanda on Twitter