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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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Redefining New England's Brand Image

Last Sunday's column was headlined "Let's Redefine New England's Brand Image."

It was based on a blog post here from earlier in December, which has sparked lots of great discussion and debate.

Sunday's video featured Jamie Tedford of Brand Networks talking about sending the message that New England is a petri dish of innovation.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keep on Bailing, or Invest in Innovation?

Thermo Fisher chairman Jim Manzi and James Henry have an article in The Nation titled 'Invest in Innovation.' Well worth a read.

"For more than a century America has led the world in innovation," they write. "This has been true not only in science and technology but also in business management practices, the design of new approaches to service delivery, political institutions and civil rights. ...But if the United Stakes stakes its future on resource-based competition--the kind of low-innovation, 'big houses/big debts/big cars' model favored by automakers, Wall Street and the oil industry...[our long-term] competitive advantage shifts to countries with the largest supply of cheap resources, the lowest taxes and the cheapest, most oppressed workers--not a formula for vibrant democracies either at home or abroad."

One recommendation is to create more innovation hubs like Boston and Silicon Valley. Henry and Manzi write:

    Take a lesson from successful public-private collaborations in technology hubs like Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin. In all these cases, private venture capital and entrepreneurs played crucial roles--and so did federal dollars. For decades the federal government generously subsidized basic research in fields like engineering, biology, physics, chemistry and computer science at premier universities like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Texas.

    ...The question is whether we can replicate innovative new Bostons and Silicon Valleys in other geographies, focused on energy, healthcare, the environment, education and transportation.

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