Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Future of Tech in New England

I hauled up to Bedford, NH this morning for a breakfast event put on by the NH High Tech Council and the NH College and University Council, part of their "Forum on the Future" series.

The message I took home: New Hampshire is thinking harder than the other New England states about how to remain competitive and retain the smart young people who grow up here, or come here to get an education.

UNH economist Ross Gittell kicked things off with a presentation: tech workers in NH earn an average of $75K a year... compared to $26K for people who work in retail...and $43K as an overall state-wide average.

But... NH tech employment seems to have peaked in 2000; today's level (48,756) is a bit lower than it was in the early 1990s.

Also, the entire New England region, Gittell said, is losing young people.

The current lock-down on credit will likely have a dramatic impact on high-tech, he predicted... financing will be in short supply for start-up companies (I suspect he was focused on non-venture capital backed start-ups)...and fewer businesses will be making investments in new hardware or software.

Gittell ended by pointing to two growth areas for the future:

    > Healthcare IT and defense (two "stable industries," as he termed them)

    > Green businesses (a growth industry)

We then had a panel discussion with a number of NH execs. I asked them what one issue we ought to focus on to ensure that tech continues to prosper in NH (and the wider New England region).

The two things we spent the most time talking about:

1. How do we create a stronger connection between students and the innovation economy (through internships, company visits, entrepreneurs and execs visiting campuses, etc.)?

2. How can we better spread the word outside of the region about all the innovative things that happen inside the region? That'd help attract both people and businesses.

(For once, no one was blaming VCs for being too timid and risk-averse, or complaining that no one in New England ever networks...)

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Anonymous Dave R said...

What are your thoughts on the future of tech on the Cape? Seems like Woods Hole and environs, a rich scientific and technical community, would be very hospitable to tech startups but it hasn't worked out that way.


October 1, 2008 2:50 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Timely post - Mobile Monday Boston will be directly connecting students with the local tech industry at BU next Monday, 10/6.

The event format is the same as always for Mobile Monday - discussing mobile technology and business in Boston. But this time we're holding it at a university and we've made a huge effort to get local students involved. We have representatives from 15 tech / business student groups from across Boston participating, along with local VCs, business people, developers, etc. This is part of the answer to how Mass. will remain competitive.

- Kate Imbach, Mobile Monday Boston
Everyone is invited:

October 1, 2008 9:46 AM  
Blogger Scott Kirsner said...


You probably know the Cape landscape better than I... but start-ups like to cluster, so they can hire from one another, be close to support services (attorneys, accountants, PR firms, etc.), and schmooze with one another. That happens in places like Cambridge or Lebanon, NH (near Dartmouth). It may develop in other spots, but it's tough...

October 1, 2008 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Matt Pierson said...

In NH we're open to ideas on how to build the engagement between students and employers...and as of this week's forum looking at even faculty internships. That was a new concept the NH High Tech Council hadn't considered. There's obvious benefits in having faculty go back to the classroom with current, real world experience in high tech companies. Any other new ideas out there?

October 2, 2008 8:15 PM  

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