Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1st: You May Now Stop Innovating

First, thanks to everyone who helped out with New England Innovation Month in June...

We started the grassroots project as a way to reboot the conversation, moving it away from the lousy economy and toward the things we can control: new ideas and new ventures and new connections. There were about 25 events on the official calendar, and those I went to were really well-attended and had great energy.

What was especially cool was to have two Left Coast publications take note of what we were doing out here in the colonies: VentureBeat and the San Jose Mercury News, which ran a piece headlined 'Boston tech scene on the rebound.'

I am *sure* this is only the beginning of some great new thinking about how to turbo-charge innovation around our region...

...And there are already some great signs that good things will continue in July:

- The Secretary of Housing & Economic Development in Massachusetts, Greg Bialecki, has just launched his blog with a great "Declaration of Innovation."

- TechStars Boston is going strong, and will present a whole crop of new companies to investors in early September.

- There's been some really constructive talk around how we can connect students to cool companies in our region.

- There are some great events happening in July and August, including WebInno, PodCamp Boston, Mass Innovation Night (hoping to finally get to that next week), CloudCamp, and a Forrester Tweetup (expecting to see Tweeter-in-Chief George Colony there, who purports to be a CEO who understands social technologies)...

Again, big thanks to all of you who supported this idea and came out to the events.

(And yes, I'm joking with the headline of this post. Please continue your innovating -- though feel free to take a short vacation in July or August.)

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Catching Up: Convergence, #NEINNO, What's Next in Tech

- The sixth edition of Convergence: The Life Sciences Leaders Forum (an event I help organize) happened last week. Oddly, attendance was up from 2008. Not sure how to explain that. Featured speakers included Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer, Sirtris founder Christoph Westphal, Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker, Beth Israel CEO Paul Levy, and cutting edge researchers David Altshuler from the Broad and David Eisenberg from Harvard. Xconomy had some coverage, as did Mass High Tech, and there was a pretty healthy stream of tweets, too.

(Termeer's appearance was followed by a great Sunday Globe story by Stephen Heuser, and then some unfortunate company news on Tuesday, as Genzyme was forced to shut down its Allston plant for decontamination.)

For the first time, we're sharing audio from the event. You can either download the MP3s for later listening, or just click play.

    - Christoph Westphal / Henri Termeer session on "The Past, Present & Future of Genzyme." (MP3 file.)

    - Alnylam CEO John Maraganore moderates a panel of executives from GlaxoSmithKline, Biogen Idec, Novartis, and Merck on "The New Logic of Partnerships, Licensing Deals, and Collaborations." (MP3 file.)

    - Stromedix CEO Michael Gilman talks to David Altshuler of the Broad Institute and David Eisenberg of Harvard Medical School's Osher Research Center about their research. (MP3 file.)

    - Jeffrey Krasner interviews Beth Israel Deaconess CEO Paul Levy and Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker about the future of the healthcare system. (MP3 file.)

- I've been psyched to see how many people have been tweeting about New England Innovation Month using the tag #neinno. This coming week wraps things up, so do help spread the word -- and try to get out to an event. (We just added a free event called PitchPub to the calendar.)

- For my part, I'll be dropping by XSITE 2009 and EurekaFest on Wednesday and Friday, and moderating/emceeing things at What's Next in Tech on Thursday evening -- which looks like it is attracting a great group of participants (listed on the registration page all the way at the bottom.)

- I'm also adding the Social Media Breakfast series to the list of regular gatherings (at right)... although I find it impossible to figure out from their site when the next one will be held (!)

(In the photo is Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer being interviewed by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals founder Christoph Westphal, at Convergence 2009.)

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Monday, June 8, 2009

A Few More Innovation Month Events ... And, Stealth Companies Revealed?

Just added a couple new events to the Innovation Month calendar, including Games for Health 2009 (June 11 -12) and a Transatlantic Pitching session at Swissnex, held in conjunction with TechStars Boston, on June 18th.

I'm also told by Mark Horan from MassNetComms (they have a big conference coming up on June 17th) that they'll be featuring six stealth companies on a 'Stealth Panel' moderated by Oscar Jazdowski from Silicon Valley Bank. Not sure how much will be revealed, but the companies are:

I'm also psyched that the events that have taken place so far in June have been plugging the concept of Innovation Month, and letting their attendees know about all the other events taking place.

I'll see you out and about...This week I'm attending the IT Collaborative Dialogue in Cambridge and The Convergence Forum in Newport, RI (which I help to organize.)

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Check Your Calendar: It's Now Innovation Month in New England

June 1st: That could only mean the start of Innovation Month in New England.

Check out all the tweets on the topic... (and if you tweet or blog about Innovation Month, use the tag #neinno.)

Mass High Tech and Xconomy have also written stories.

And my Globe column yesterday also dealt with how we might leverage Innovation Month to defibrillate the economy. (That's a word, right?)

Here's the opening:

    If you want to understand real economic pain - and how it is alleviated - you have to rewind the tape a little more than two centuries.

    Most people remember that when George Washington and his Continental Army drove the British from Boston in 1776, it was one of the first victories of the Revolution. It was also the start of "the most significant depression in Boston's history," says Bob Krim, executive director of the Boston History & Innovation Collaborative. "Eighty-five percent of the population left," and because of the war, the merchants of the city could no longer trade with Britain or the West Indies. The foundation of the city's industry crumbled overnight.

    But within a decade, Boston had discovered a new business opportunity - shipping otter skins from the Pacific Northwest to China and importing products like silk and tea - and figured out how to dominate it. "Trade with China had been barred by the British, and it was such a long trip, no one thought it would be worth it," Krim says. "But these merchants had some seed capital, and they took the incredible risk of figuring out what could be sold in China."

    Creating new industries is what we've done in these parts to deal with economic disruptions for more than 200 years. From textile mills to nanotubes, mutual funds to medical devices, the people of New England know, deep in our DNA, how to come up with the new ideas, products, and businesses that make economic rebounds possible.

(Thanks to Metropolis Creative for the great logo... more available here.)

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

June is Innovation Month in New England: What Should We Do to Make An Impact?

Why declare that June 2009 is Innovation Month in New England?

My take: innovation -- new products, new companies, new ideas, new investment themes -- is what will enable our region to recover from the recession. Innovation has always been an inherent strength in these parts, but we can and should do better.

So here's my challenge to you...

What we've done so far is set up a Web site to list just a few of the innovation-oriented events taking place in New England in June. It'd be great if you could come to at least one of them to contribute to this concentrated, month-long conversation about innovation, and also help spread the word through your network. (Maybe you'll also let people know which events you plan to attend... I'll be at the IT Collaborative Dialogue on June 10th, Convergence on June 11-13, the MassNetComms Innovators Summit on June 17th, What's Next in Tech on the 25th, and possibly more.)

What else should we do to kick-start things in June ... to get people talking, connecting, collaborating, and thinking in new ways about how we launch and grow innovative ventures here in New England? To spotlight important research and development initiatives? To make students more aware of opportunities in the innovation economy here?

I'm eager to hear your ideas, big and small ... especially ones that are cheap/free, don't require much coordination, and can at least be started or announced in June. I may use a few of these in a column soon, so if you'd like, include your real name and affiliation in the comments.

(Oh, and if you blog or Tweet about Innovation Month, or post notes from any of the events that are part of it, please use the tag #neinno.)

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