Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New New England in 2008

Here’s my list of eight things we could do in 2008 to really juice up New England’s innovation economy. By that, I mean make it more vibrant, more fun to be part of, more attractive to people from outside the region, more valuable to society, and more profitable for everyone who’s a part of it.

    1. Let’s focus on pulling as many talented graduates of New England universities into our region’s innovation economy. Coming here to get a degree should feel like being sucked into a black hole, rather than passing through a turnstile.

    2. Let’s remind our VC pals that brilliant start-ups can be created by people who haven’t done it before, or celebrated their 40th birthday yet. If we know such entrepreneurs, let’s introduce them to our VC pals.

    3. Let’s get rid of non-compete agreements, which make states less competitive in a global economy. Companies can stop asking employees to sign them as a start, and advertise this fact (thus making themselves more appealing to employees), but legislative changes would provide a better solution. (Connecticut is the only New England state where enforcement of non-competes is significantly less strict than the other five.)

    4. Let’s get involved with projects that get kids excited about learning science and technology.

    5. Let’s encourage people who’ve been involved in building big, “pillar” companies here in New England to share their experiences – by mentoring younger entrepreneurs, by serving on boards, and by speaking and writing.

    6. Let’s agree that producing energy in cleaner, more efficient ways, and with more diverse fuel sources, will be one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. We’ve got research centers, start-ups, and bigger companies working on this challenge in our region – all of which deserve more attention and support.

    7. Let’s change the dynamic of selling companies upon receipt of the first halfway decent offer. Why not think big, and hang on for the ride?

    8. Culture is created by the beliefs and actions of individuals. Can we stop repeating the old trope that the culture here is somehow closed, or unfriendly to new ideas and people, and act in ways that make it feel more open and welcoming?