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. The goal of this call is to provide support to encourage the generation and analysis of large datasets to answer pressing life science questions, and to attract and train data scientists.

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 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


  1. Drive life sciences innovation in Massachusetts through:
    1. Generation and analysis of large datasets to answer pressing life science questions
    2. Provide open access to data which could be leveraged by multiple groups to accelerate discovery
    3. Fill funding gap for current critical approach to biomedical research
    4. Engage industry, including non-traditional life science companies
  2. Attract, train, and retain data scientists to the life sciences
    1. Expose data scientists to careers within the life sciences, encouraging the application of their skill sets to the industry and mission-driven work of the life sciences.

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 Company, and if more than one Company is participating, the lead Company who is providing the data scientist support, must have a presence in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and registered to do business in 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) at the MA non-profit institution.
  • 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 (federal grants, etc.). The more MLSC dollars are being leveraged by additional third party support, the stronger the application. In addition, the Company will be required to provide documentation by the Applicant of a cash component 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, 2019 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.

Application and Review Process

The application period now closed. Top applicants may be asked to meet with our review panel and will be notified of such a request.


If you have further questions regarding the application process, please email the Industry team:

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