Boston preps big kickoff for big data hub

The push to make Boston the de facto hub of big data will continue Thursday with the gala launch of the hack/reduce space in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The historic space — in the old brick Kendall Boiler and Tank building — will be home to big data practitioners from academia, private and public industry. Hack/reduce, which sports the motto “code big or go home”, aims to bring top talent together to train the next-generation of sorely needed data scientists, Chris Lynch,  co-founder of hack/reduce told me.

Hack/reduce co-founder Chris Lynch

The facility can accommodate 150 dedicated hackers and is fielding 50 applications per week for spots. The first residents are Sqrrll, a big data startup launched by former National Security Agency technologists. “These 7 young men out of NSA spent 5 years building a big data store in Washington and now we have it in Boston,” said Lynch, who co-founded Vertica(s hpq).

Lynch said he was inspired to give back to the community by a conversation with Diane Patrick, the wife of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. “Mrs. Patrick told me about the governor’s transition from a top position at Coke to public service and said he knew he’d be measured based on what he gave back versus what he earned,” Lynch said.

Lynch, whose first job was at Maynard, Mass.-based Digital Equipment Corp., was frustrated seeing so many young computer scientists and programmers — including his own son — go elsewhere for jobs. If hack/reduce can  attract enough talent, only goodness will result, he said: “As we incubate young people, some will go to work at Fidelity as consumers of big data and some will go to EMC or Microsoft and other companies.”

The other hack/reduce co-founder is Frederic Lalonde, an entrepreneur and math scientist from Montreal. “Hack/reduce is his brainchild,” Lynch said. He hopes Boston’s resurging status as a database hub will help the effort.

Hack/reduce sponsors include Microsoft(s msft), Google(s goog), IBM(s ibm), EMC’s(s emc) Green Plum division, along with top venture capitalists and the Massachusetts Technology Cooperative.