Patrick Details Plans for Holyoke Computing Center

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick traveled to Holyoke, MA, yesterday to talk about the next steps for the planned Holyoke High Performance Computing Center, a massive project designed to advance the state of the art in “green computing” for life sciences, cleantech, and other applications, while also bolstering business development in economically depressed western Massachusetts. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2010 and be completed in late 2011, the governor said.

The partners in the project—which is a collaboration between the Massachusetts state government, Accenture, Boston University, Cisco, EMC, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts—have raised over half of the money needed for construction, according to a press release yesterday from the governor’s office. (The actual dollar amounts weren’t named in the release.)

Since the state’s initial announcement about the project in June, the partners have made “considerable progress” on a working plan for the facility, according to the release. That includes setting up an organizational and business structure for the center, estimating capital costs and operating budgets, outlining a research agenda, and creating preliminary building designs and construction schedules. It’s expected that the facility will be located somewhere near the Connecticut River, which produces abundant hydroelectric power, or along Holyoke’s network of industrial canals, which could provide cooling water for its computing and climate-control equipment.

The three academic institutions contributing to the Holyoke center—BU, MIT, and UMass—issued a statement yesterday saying they are committed to “work diligently over the next 120 days with the Governor, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Bialecki, Energy and Environment Secretary Bowles, and other cabinet officials, Congressman Olver, Holyoke officials and our colleagues in industry to move to the next stage of planning the HPCC.” The statement said the next steps include acquiring a site, setting up agreements on how the various institutions involved will share responsibility for the center, and raising the rest of the money required.

Several entities assisting with the project—the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the City of Holyoke, and the John Adams Innovation Institute—have also collaborated to launch a website called Innovate Holyoke as a resource for news on the facility. The site was developed by Ten Minute Media, a Web design company run by young Holyoke-based entrepreneur Brendan Ciecko, who wrote about the computing center project for Xconomy in June.

In remarks yesterday, Governor Patrick said the computing center would serve as “an anchor of a highly competitive and vibrant innovation district in the Pioneer Valley,” which includes the three western Massachusetts counties traversed by the Connecticut River. “The potential for job growth and advances in technology and research is unprecedented, and both the center and this collaboration will serve to create long term prosperity for Holyoke and regional economies throughout Western Massachusetts.”

[Update, 10/23/09: The John Adams Innovation Institute of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has published a useful summary of yesterday’s event in Holyoke.]

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