WPI Develops Groundbreaking Big Data Tool To Measure Massachusetts Technology Strengths

February 25, 2015

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) today announced that faculty and students have developed a system to help measure and evaluate Massachusetts' current competitive position among leading technology states.

This comprehensive data analytics system—launched today by the Massachusetts High Technology Council—is known as Massachusetts' Technology, Talent, and Economic Reporting System (MATTERS). This big data tool provides corporations with information that is critical to decision making regarding expansion. It also provides policy makers with essential data for developing public policy that attracts and retains business in the state.

Guided by Big Data​

"WPI has long demonstrated a commitment to economic development in the commonwealth, and to building strong relationships with our corporate partners," said Stephen Flavin, vice president for academic and corporate development at WPI and a member of the Massachusetts High Tech Council. "This reporting dashboard makes important data accessible to those who need it. It also demonstrates the impact that our faculty and students can have on the state's competitiveness, especially in the technology sector."

MATTERS allows users to measure the strength of the technology environment in Massachusetts and also to make comparisons to any other state or states, with a particular focus on technology-based economies.

For example, users can do side-by-side comparisons of Massachusetts and New York that show how the states stack up with regard to talent, cost, and economy metrics, as well as national rankings on tax climate and technology indexes.

Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, praised the collaboration with WPI.

"We are so pleased to deepen our long relationship with WPI, which has been such a strong academic partner," said Anderson. "This system will help advocates for a competitive economic and job creation climate in Massachusetts and beyond to understand where the talent gaps are and where growing demand is located. WPI's technology expertise and guidance have enabled us to make this vision a reality," he said.

It was WPI's established position as a leader in data analytics that made the realization and implementation of MATTERS possible. In the fall of 2013, WPI launched the first graduate program in data science in Massachusetts. One of only a handful of such programs in the nation, its curriculum draws on the strengths of several disciplines, including computer science, mathematical sciences, and business management.

Elke Rundensteiner, professor of computer science at WPI and director of the Data Science Program, has led nearly two dozen undergraduate, master's, and PhD students on this project for the past 14 months.

"Due to the impact of this project, and the state-of-the-art technologies that we are using, I’ve been able to recruit a continuous string of extremely talented undergraduate and graduate students," she said. "They have shown a deep understanding of the complexity of the challenges involved in building this data analytics technology."

Reflective of the importance of this interdisciplinary approach, MATTERS showcases the type of skills that need to be brought together in such big data projects. In this specific case, that means leveraging data integration tools and technologies from computer sciences, using statistical methods for data analysis, and gaining a deep understanding of business economics.

In addition to WPI, a team of subject matter experts from other Massachusetts High Tech Council members and partner organizations contributed to the selection and aggregation of relevant metrics and data. EMD Millipore is a lead sponsor of MATTERS, and the development team included important contributions from Bentley University, Ernst & Young, KPMG, The MITRE Corporation, Monster Government Solutions, the New England Board of Higher Education, and the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center.