Thank you very much for the nice introduction, and I just wanted to come by -- I won't keep you from your work for long -- but just to welcome you, warmly, to Massachusetts and to tell you why you're in the right place at the right time.
We have nearly 300 colleges and universities within an hour-and-a-half's drive of where you sit right now. But for a long time, and until recently, their collaboration with each other and with the private sector was not as robust as it might have been.
We also have had stem cell research trapped in ideologically stalemate until 2007 when I came to office, and we set about -- with the help of many, many in the industry; many in the universities -- a number of entrepreneurs whose ideas had died in the so-called valley of death between proof of concept and the readiness of commercialism, and we crafted what was described as our life sciences initiative, a $1 billion public commitment to invest in, stimulate and strengthen our life sciences and biotech sector, of which stem cell research is key.
We were not undertaking this to substitute for the private sector; no government can do that. But there were ways in which we thought we could stimulate private investment and the successful translation of ideas to the bedside. And I'm proud to say that in the first five years of this 10-year initiative, we've invested about $350 million of public money, generated well over a billion dollars of private investment and created thousands of jobs.
The life sciences and biotech sector is one of the reasons why we have come out of the recession faster than most other states. We were declared in March having regained all of the jobs lost and then some since the great global economic collapse, and we are growing twice as fast as the national growth rate.
So I want to thank all of you for being part of an industry which is vibrant here and welcome you to what was -- for a long time -- a centerpiece of the life sciences and biotech sector, but I think now is the international destination for that super cluster.
But all apart from the economics, I want to thank you for the hope you've given to people in need of a cure, in need of relief, in need of help. Hope is a tangible thing, a powerful thing. And sometimes, when you are laboring away in your laboratories and over your data and in the kinds of dents, and to regular civilians like me, impenetrable comments and lectures like the one that preceded me to this podium, maybe you think it's all an extraction.
But I want you to know that there are people suffering all over the world who are counting on you to succeed. And if we, in this government, and in partnership with you, and other governments around the country and around the world, and with universities and researchers and entrepreneurs and investors and above all, bright, energetic, imaginative people, can bring those who suffer a reason to hope, it will all be worthwhile. In that spirit, I warmly welcome you all to Massachusetts. Thank you for being here.