Bits to Bytes

Program Overview

The Bits to Bytes Capital Call is designed to provide grants for capital projects that support the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts by enabling and supporting the generation and analysis of large datasets to answer pressing life science questions, and to attract and train data scientists in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts recognizes that the role of data sciences in life science innovation has evolved rapidly and has the potential to catalyze innovation at unprecedented rates. The digital transformation is taking place across the globe in various industries such as healthcare, finance, retail, insurance, etc. Investment in generating datasets and training data scientists for life science research is required to sustain Massachusetts’s global leadership position in life science innovation. In addition to generating large datasets to be shared with other researchers, the program’s goal is to employ data analytics and/or machine learning techniques to develop a greater understanding of various medical conditions to develop optimal treatments to improve patient health. Bits to Bytes also aims to develop the skillsets of data scientists in Massachusetts to strengthen our industry and retain the next generation of talent in this competitive field.

Design: Project teams comprise not-for-profit applicants collaborating with at least one for-profit Massachusetts life science company to solve some of the most pressing life science questions using high throughput approaches generating large datasets.

  • Up to $10M capital dollars are available to support work and equipment at not-for-profit partners; each award is anticipated to be ~$750K.
  • For-profit partner provides salary support for at least one new data scientist (either graduate student or postdoctoral fellow) to be appointed, at least in part, at the not-for-profit partner, as well as other financial and in-kind contributions to leverage MLSC capital dollars.
  • Projects should be completed within 3-4 years post grant award.
  • When applicable, teams are required to be inclusive of gender biology (an equal number of female subjects as male) in their approach to pre-clinical/clinical development. Results should highlight any differences observed between groups.
  • There is no limitation on the number of proposals that may be submitted by each non-profit institution. There is no limit on applications from Applicants, but Project Teams are allowed to submit only one application per round.
  • A quarterly event will be organized whereby the data science fellows can communicate about their projects and network.

Program Eligibility

Applicants must be a Massachusetts legally organized “not-for-profit” entity such as an academic/research institution, a hospital engaged in research, business incubator or accelerator, or other not-for-profit entity that would be eligible for capital funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Institutions that are exclusively health care providers and/or requests for the purchase of equipment associated with standard healthcare delivery would not be eligible for capital funding.

Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be non-profit institutions, including research institutions and academic medical centers.
  • Each application must be submitted by a Project Team, consisting of a principal investigator(s) (PI) at Applicant and one (or more) Company(s).
  • The PI must have a full-time or part-time faculty position at a college, university, or non-profit institute in Massachusetts. The lead Company must have a presence and be registered to do business in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • The requested funding must support the performance of translational research that is intended to accelerate the understanding of critical healthcare issues or develop new treatment methods based on the analysis of large datasets. The requested funds can only be used to support capital costs (equipment, supplies, reagents, etc.) at the MA non-profit institution.
  • The Applicant and Company must commit to making all data (including metadata) generated under this award publicly available.
  • Projects will be evaluated, in part, based on the level of support offered to the Applicant in a support letter(s) which delineates the amount of cash, in-kind, and/or other contributions (equipment donation, etc.) to be provided by the Company and any other sources (grantee institution, etc.). The more MLSC dollars leveraged by additional third party support, the stronger the application.
  • The Applicant will be required to provide documentation of a cash component from the company to support at least one data scientist for the duration of the project following grant award.
  • Applicants must demonstrate how they will work collaboratively with the Company to execute the project.
  • These funds are intended to catalyze new life science discoveries using modalities that generate large data sets (sequencing, proteomics, imaging, etc). Therefore, sponsored research agreements (or other similar arrangements) executed before February 15, 2020 between the parties will not be considered as part of the letter of support for this program.
  • The Applicant and Company must be in compliance with all other Center agreements, if any.

Apply Now

The program is now accepting applications. The FY20 Bits to Bytes application deadline is 12:00 p.m., January 23, 2020. Please visit our SmartSimple application portal to apply.

Application and Review Process

For this solicitation, MLSC is particularly interested in supporting applicants whose research will lead to significant healthcare advances using data-driven approaches and who will recruit and train data scientists in the life science field. While the MLSC recognizes that different areas of translational research have different time horizons, successful proposals will explain a clear path, with executable milestones, that leads to new discoveries in partnership with the Company.

The below list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather representative of the types of pertinent healthcare issues that can particularly benefit from large datasets to catalyze discovery.

Funding

  • Allowable costs for MLSC funds: equipment, research supplies and reagents (no minimum dollar amount), purchase of hardware and software, generation of data via core facilities, processing of raw data by core facilities, purchase of analytical equipment. Non-fundable expenses include: direct labor, legal expenses, travel, paying off debt, paying board members, paying for operating costs such as rent and utilities, renting space for storage of memory or hard drives, monthly cloud storage fees, other monthly subscription fees, and activities funded by other funding sources.
  • Following execution of the grant agreement, funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis to the Awardees.
  • The number and amount of awards will be determined by the quality of the proposals.
  • Typical grant request for this program is up to $750,000. Teams requesting more than $750,000 will be asked to describe the compelling circumstances and provide sufficient information to justify this special request.
  • The Center reserves the right to adjust the requested amount of funding for each proposal.

Questions

For more information about Post-award Deliverables, Confidentiality, and General Conditions, please check here. If you have further questions regarding the application process, please email the Industry team: BitsToBytes@Masslifesciences.com

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