Google will open an office in Rochester, Minn., this year as part of an effort to strengthen its relationship with Mayo Clinic.
Google's new office at Collider Coworking, a coworking space in downtown Rochester, will provide a space for Google engineers to work "side-by-side" with Mayo's researchers, physicians, information-technology staff and data scientists, Google said Thursday. The office marks the tech giant's first office in Minnesota.
The office, which is a 10-minute walk from Mayo's campus, will open later this year, in line with local and state COVID-19 guidelines.
Google did not disclose financial details or square footage of the new office. The company isn't sharing details of the lease or its hiring plans, said Chris Mueller, Rochester site lead and a software engineer at Google Cloud, on a call with reporters Thursday, but said "there will be a handful of Googlers working in the office when it opens."
Mueller said Google has already started hiring for the team, including engineers from Minnesota and from out-of-state.
For full-year 2020, Alphabet reported $168.6 billion in revenue and $54.6 billion in operating income from Google's services and products. Google Cloud, which it breaks out as a separate category, brought in $13.1 billion in full-year revenue and posted a $5.6 billion operating loss.
Mayo participated in evaluating new office sites with Google, adding to the list of ways Mayo is looking to draw outside innovators to the area. Mayo is a cornerstone of an ongoing $5.6 billion public-private economic development plan in Minnesota, designed to make Rochester—and specifically Mayo—a global medical destination.
Mayo's collaboration with Google is not part of that economic development plan, dubbed the Destination Medical Center, although it aligns with its goals.
Dr. John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform, in an interview with Modern Healthcare drew a parallel between economic development efforts going on in Rochester today, and how Stanford University helped spur development in the Palo Alto, Calif., area that has since become the tech center Silicon Valley.
"I see this as a very similar kind of catalytic event," Halamka said. "I expect we're going to see an explosion of innovation in Minnesota."
As an example of a project they're looking at, Halamka said Mayo and Google plan to work together to digitize 25 million de-identified pathology slides and make them easy to search with artificial intelligence.
"This is going to be tens of petabytes of information," Halamka said. One petabyte represents 1 million gigabytes.
The Rochester office marks another step in a 10-year partnership that Mayo Clinic struck with Google in 2019, which involves both cloud storage and innovation projects. Google also made headlines in 2019 for a separate data-sharing partnership with St. Louis-based Ascension, which had drawn public concern over patient privacy.
A Mayo spokesperson described its partnership with Google as a "multimillion dollar partnership to which both sides are contributing financially." Mayo's partnership with Google has also involved other partners under the Alphabet umbrella, such as Verily Life Sciences.
Mayo officials have said that the health system will control access to patient data under the 10-year partnership; however, they may authorize partners like Google to use data as part of specific projects.
Since 2019, Mayo has launched a clinical data analytics platform on Google's cloud and a joint research project to study whether artificial intelligence can automate aspects of radiation therapy planning. Last week, University of Minnesota announced a healthcare education program it's launching through a partnership with Google Cloud, as well as with support from Mayo.
To date, the partnership has mainly involved establishing a foundation for future projects, said Cris Ross, Mayo's chief information officer, in an interview.
Mayo has moved 10 million patient records to an environment on Google's cloud, where researchers will later be able to analyze the data. Mayo has also set up what it calls an "AI factory," which is designed to make it easier for Mayo staffers who have ideas for AI uses to access relevant data and analytics tools to build and test those ideas.
"We knew at the beginning of this relationship that it would be front-loaded with a lot of creation of the foundational work—creating the factory for innovation," Ross said. "Over time that engineering and foundational work will begin to decline and the focus will shift to medical innovation."