Xconomy Report: Counting on 'Big Data'

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston

June 1, 2012

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Can Massachusetts own the emerging field of “big data”? That’s a buzz phrase for systems that make sense of huge amounts of information generated in markets like telecom, retail and social media. This week, Gov. Deval Patrick announced a new initiative that includes forming a big-data industry consortium, creating a matching-grant program for universities and supporting a tech-community space called HackReduce in Cambridge. Intel is also committing $12.5 million to support big-data research at MIT. This could all help revitalize the state’s tech economy — as long as big data doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own hype.

In other innovation news …

Vertex Pharmaceuticals revealed it had mistakenly overstated the benefit of an experimental treatment for cystic fibrosis when reporting on a clinical trial in early May. Vertex stock took a 21 percent tumble on the news but has since made up some of that ground.

Our deal of the week goes to GreenBytes, a data storage company in R.I. that raised $12 million in a round led by Al Gore’s venture firm, Generation Investment Management.

And finally, the startup accelerator MassChallenge has named 125 finalists for its third annual program in Boston, choosing from more than 1,200 applicants. It remains to be seen how many of the eventual winners will end up working on … big data.

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