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Innovation

Global Business Hub blog moves over to BetaBoston

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 1, 2014 02:00 AM

Dear loyal readers:

No, this isn't an April Fool's Day joke. This blog has moved over to BetaBoston.

You'll still be able to access the old content here, but the new stuff going forward will be there.

http://betaboston.com/global-business-hub/

Special thanks to everyone at Boston.com who has helped to make this possible over the years. Looking forward to a new home with more great content to come!

Best regards,
Chad
@chadoconnor

Startup scene not just for young, male

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 31, 2014 06:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to showcase innovative MassChallenge companies. MassChallenge is the world's largest startup accelerator and the first to support entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Startups can apply to the 2014 MassChallenge summer accelerator by April 2.

I'm Julie Tittler, CEO and founder of Semafores, Inc. We create mobile, multimedia tools for coordination, collaboration and encouragement. Through the magic of user-generated multimedia we are helping families coordinate caregiving across multiple hands, generations and locations.

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3 reasons why the fashion industry needs a makeover

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 24, 2014 06:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

What do you think of when you hear about the fashion industry today? Large box retailers? Huge ecommerce platforms? Big brands? Local boutiques? Until the late-19th century, fashion was largely a designer-centered, custom-made business. By the end of the 20th century, new technologies and mass manufacturing led to the rise of large media and holding-company monopolies as well as outsourced production. The designer-led, creative component of fashion became another cog in the wheel. In an industry stacked against designers, there's a 60% dropout rate amongst trained graduates. What consumers see as industry success from shows like Project Runway rarely equate to financial prosperity.

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Clean cookstoves: fighting climate change, saving lives

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 22, 2014 06:00 AM

Nearly 3 billion people around the world cook on open fires or use traditional cooking methods that damage the environment and cause 4 million deaths annually through illness and injury. One solution to this problem is the distribution of clean cookstoves to replace traditional cooking methods.

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LoJack CTO talks RF, Internet of Things

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 20, 2014 06:00 AM

Curious about how the many devices we use - everything from cell phones to planes to GPS - continue talk to each other without constantly messing up? I recently posed some related questions to Emad Isaac, CTO at LoJack, about the technology and how he sees LoJack's role. Here's what he explained to me:

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tags tech

Use data to improve recruiting

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 18, 2014 06:00 AM

With more than 60 percent of US CEOs planning to increase headcount in 2014, making better use of data to hire top talent should be a key priority for employers. However, much of the recruitment technology available today falls short of businesses’ needs, contributing to persistent skills gaps and stunted business growth. What’s needed is a fresh approach that fuses today’s advancements in data analytics with proven recruitment approaches of the past.

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Design thinking: Design for the future

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 7, 2014 06:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

Over the years as a marketer and always a strong advocate for 'good design,' I have observed and discussed the substantial topic of the many ways of describing design and design processes. Incorporating novel approaches and thinking into the design process has been in use since the mid-20th century. In the 1980s the notion of 'design thinking' began to bubble up in design and academic circles. However it wasn't until the early 2000s that we have seen such a surge in the now buzzword design thinking. Simply put, design thinking is a human-centered process applying the principles and practices to solve problems in a creative, non-linear and inclusive fashion. It is a way to help discover unmet needs and opportunities and to create new solutions. While it is certainly not new, it’s of growing interest in a range of fields, including the business, education and public sectors.

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Is a tiny house the solution to big financial problems?

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 6, 2014 06:00 AM

Boston.com, ABC News, CBS News, Oprah Winfrey and other mainstream media outlets have ramped up their coverage of the Tiny House movement – a shift from McMansion-sized expectations to very small, often portable dreams. Tiny houses range from 80-220 sq. ft., typically cost $25-45k and seem to have unquenchable appeal; related videos have been watched nearly 27 million times, over 750k people “like” Tiny House Facebook pages, and social keywords reach nearly 700k people daily.

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Artists know how to innovate

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 5, 2014 06:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

Whenever I tell an established business owner that I'm an artist who just launched a start-up, I often get some version of the same kindly-meant question. "You do know a business is supposed to make money, right?"

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Transatlantic collaboration, innovation lead to green energy opportunities

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 4, 2014 06:00 AM

Both the UK and Massachusetts have adopted groundbreaking legislation to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and have each discovered that rethinking energy policy offers tremendous new opportunities for economic development.

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4 steps to create the in-store shopping experience online

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 3, 2014 06:00 AM

When you think about a great customer service experience you've had, you may recall a story of a friendly salesperson that helped you understand the differences in competing products that seemed the same, of getting great tips on how to maintain the product you are purchasing, or of finding the right accessory to go with the jacket you selected. This type of high-value sales experience is the hallmark of great retail, but, until recently, an asset that retailers have not been able to bring to the online channel. Now, some of today’s leading brands are working on creating these kinds of experiences on their web sites with next-generation customer engagement tools.

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Bottom Line helps students get in, graduate, go far

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 25, 2014 06:00 AM

Bottom Line, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged students get into college, graduate, and go far in life, is making great strides. The organization has gone from serving 25 students in 1997 to serving 2400 students and is now at a size to make a real impact. Bottom Line provides low-income and first-generation students with one-on-one guidance from the application process through college graduation.

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4 steps to enterprise social success

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 23, 2014 11:45 AM

We are all aware of the tremendous impact social media giants Facebook and Twitter have had on how we communicate with one another. More and more they are becoming the primary forum for exchanging ideas, getting news, and keeping up with what is going on in our world.

Social media is often categorized as a consumer technology, much like games, eBook readers and programs to download music. But aren't business users consumers, too? Wouldn't it be great if our businesses were as open, communicative and collaborative as the social web we use in our personal lives?

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Out-of-school learning extends STEM curriculum

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 17, 2014 06:00 AM

Ada Lovelace, a visionary mathematician who died in 1852, is recognized as the world's first computer programmer. And, in 1947, Grace Hopper, an early computer scientist, coined the word "debugging." Still, all these years later, too few young women consider careers in computer science. While computing and engineering occupations represent about 80 percent of future STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) jobs, women and minorities remain greatly unrepresented.

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ARTAPP Boston+ is in love with the art around you

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 14, 2014 06:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to showcase innovative MassChallenge companies. MassChallenge is the world's largest startup accelerator and the first to support entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Startups can apply to the 2014 MassChallenge summer accelerator from Feb 12 - April 2.

New Art Love, a Boston-based social enterprise, has launched ARTAPP Boston+, the largest gathering of visual arts and more in Greater Boston and beyond. New Art Love’s interactive mobile app empowers art lovers to discover, experience and connect with art and artists they love in new ways. “We intend to make art completely accessible and enjoyable for everyone on the globe”.

ARTAPP Boston+ features the most diverse, comprehensive, and the only customizable listing of art in Massachusetts. The free download connects users to art exhibitions, experiences and events at nonprofit and commercial galleries, museums and artist-run spaces, public and outdoor venues, as well as secret or almost-secret locations.

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Engineering better mental health solutions

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 13, 2014 06:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to showcase innovative MassChallenge companies. MassChallenge is the world's largest startup accelerator and the first to support entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Startups can apply to the 2014 MassChallenge summer accelerator from Feb 12 - April 2.

The world needs more engineers in mental healthcare. By many metrics, mental illness and brain disorders are the world’s largest health issue. These illnesses make an impact on every aspect of our lives and are extremely costly to treat. While many call for more and better solutions from pharmaceutical companies, what we really need are more engineers and engineering programs to provide alternative devices and supplemental programs to treat mental illness.

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2014 promising tech superstars (video)

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 10, 2014 06:00 AM

Our friends at REEL Entrepreneurs just put together a new compilation video about some promising tech companies in Boston. Who do you think will be the next superstar of the lot? Watch it here to see for yourself and let us know...

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Live sports broadcasting no longer sole domain of TV

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 7, 2014 06:00 AM

Sitting at home--in front of the TV with friends or family--to enjoy the latest pop culture experience--together with millions of virtual companions--is increasingly not “the norm.” Why be tethered to a cord--or dish--when one can effortlessly stream the [pick one] State of the Union, Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, the World Cup--and so much more--anywhere, on-the-go, on the mobile or connected device of one’s choosing?

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tags tech

International networking meets 3D printing

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 6, 2014 06:00 AM

At the January meeting of the International Executive Resources Group (IERG) Boston Chapter, the focus was on 3D printing, touted as an enabling platform for applications ranging from personalized medicine to personal drones. 3D printing will grow to an $8.4 billion market in 2025 in current applications like prototyping, molds, and tooling, as well as production parts in aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer goods, and electronics. However, as developers improve printing processes, equipment, and materials, they will enable truly new kinds of end products unrealizable with traditional methods.

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tags tech

Public-private partnerships show new way to pay for success

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 5, 2014 06:00 AM

Ralph Bonano was living a life of crime on the streets of Chelsea. A high school dropout who was selling drugs, robbing people and participating actively in gang life, he had been arrested five times by the time he turned 17.

Ralph’s situation isn’t unique. In Boston and other cities around the country, repeat arrests and prison sentences (known as “recidivism”) for young-men are a singularly destructive challenge facing low-income communities. Only 35 percent of young men are able to find a job within a year of being released from jail in Massachusetts. Sixty-four percent of them go back to jail within five years. Their average sentence is close to two and a-half years, costing taxpayers more than $112,000 per inmate.

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5 things you might not know about Davos

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 1, 2014 02:00 AM

If you read the paper or flipped on the TV in January, you likely heard people talking about “Davos.” Davos refers to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which takes place in Davos, Switzerland - a ski city in the Swiss Alps. Who gets to go? Heads of State, captains of industry, influential leaders of non-profit organizations and A-list celebrities. In addition, representatives from innovative start-ups across the globe are invited to the event each year.

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The Boston startup community can do more

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 31, 2014 06:00 AM

The Boston startup ecosystems is hitting its stride. Charley Polachi wrote a great piece a few weeks ago for this blog highlighting how Mayor Walsh could help the innovation economy in Boston. I’d like to add a few more items to the list for both the Mayor and the Greater Boston business community to help keep us moving forward:

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Medtech startups gain huge advantages by looking to Ireland

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 30, 2014 06:00 AM

Boston’s Irish roots run deep and many local residents—including the city’s new mayor, Marty Walsh—are proud of their familial connections to the Emerald Isle. However, what many Bostonians don’t realize is that beyond personal lineages lies the potential for an incredible business connection with Ireland, as the country (much like Boston) is a global hub for the life-science industry.

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Affordable housing through consensus, community

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 23, 2014 10:00 AM

As employment rates remain low and the cost of living continues to rise, the need for high-quality and accessible affordable housing has never been greater. Many of the developments of the 60’s and 70’s are now extremely outdated in both infrastructure and architecture – the bunker like characteristics and inward-focused mentality of the mid-century has given way to a more sustainable, community-oriented way of building modern housing. Affordable communities can radically benefit from these advancements.

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MassNeeds: Collaboration counters winter basic needs crisis

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 21, 2014 06:00 AM

This winter, many low and moderate income families are facing desperate times. Their basic needs such as food, fuel, clothing, and shelter are not being met. Food assistance charities are seeing record demand for their services, Federal low-income heating assistance has been cut by more than half, rents are at all-time highs, and thousands of homeowners struggle to make payments on their mortgages and avoid foreclosure.

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E-commerce: Mobile, analytical, personal

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 20, 2014 06:00 AM

E-commerce companies are grappling with a changing landscape, trying to keep pace with consumer behavior patterns that are shifting rapidly. At the forefront of this challenge is the need to provide a quality customer experience with seamless design across all platforms and devices. Despite an overwhelming preference on the part of surveyed consumers to shop via their computers, mobile traffic accounted for almost 40% of all online traffic on Black Friday and mobile sales reached 21.8% of total online sales - that’s an increase of nearly 43% from 2012. In short, with mobile internet usage on the rise and predicted to soon surpass desktop internet usage, online retailers not putting an emphasis on the mobile shopping experience they’re providing will very quickly find themselves lagging behind their competitors.

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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) lessons for business leaders

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 13, 2014 06:00 AM

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is “Learn something new”, try Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). In January 2012, Harvard and MIT committed $30M each to develop the edX platform, which offers online courses from the world’s finest institutions. Today, the edX consortium has grown to include more than 30 universities, offering 127 courses to over 1.6 million students. Some edX offerings, such as MITx class on electrical circuits, enroll over 150,000 students in a single class.

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How Mayor Walsh can support the Boston innovation economy

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 7, 2014 06:00 AM

Dear Mayor Walsh:

Boston’s innovation based economy has allowed the city to weather economic cycles more deftly than many other cites. Our proud heritage of innovation harkens back to the days when we dominated the textile industry. Our residents are talented and resourceful and this is reflected by the diversity of industry that thrives in Boston.

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Greater Boston 2014 outlook: Entrepreneurial opportunity in the global innovation economy

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 6, 2014 06:00 AM

As we dig out of the first snowstorm of the year, we are reminded of one of the great appeals of Silicon Valley: the beautiful weather! And yet we both see - having just co-taught a course at MIT looking at entrepreneurial regions around the world – that Greater Boston and Massachusetts have many sources of competitive advantage that still make it a leading global hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, with new opportunities in 2014.

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Mayor Menino: Innovator (video - ICYMI)

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 3, 2014 06:00 AM

In case you missed it earlier this year, our friends at The Hive and REEL Entrepreneurs scored a sit down with outgoing Boston Mayor Thomas Menino as he reflects on his legacy. You can watch the video below, and make sure you check out The Hive for some great business content!

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Governor Patrick: Innovator (video - ICYMI)

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 2, 2014 06:00 AM

In case you missed it earlier this year, our friends at The Hive and REEL Entrepreneurs scored a sit down interview with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick! You can watch the video below, and make sure to check out The Hive for some great business content!

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ICYMI: The real reasons young people leave Massachusetts

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 30, 2013 06:00 AM

[In case you missed it on April 1st...]

It is time to change the discourse around talent retention in Greater Boston.

Last Thursday’s second-ever joint city council hearing, hosted by Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson and Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung, in partnership with the World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP), highlighted the concern of talent loss to many in the Boston area. The discourse on this topic is not new to local leaders and the same lamentations about why young talent leaves – apartments are too expensive, the T doesn’t run all night, the bar scene is boring – keep getting shared across forum discussions, newspaper editorials, and election campaigns. But these are more the complaints of the people who stay, rather than the reasons for why others leave. [continued...]

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ICYMI: Give your life away

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 26, 2013 06:00 AM

[In case you missed it on September 24th...]

What will be your legacy? It is hard to know that one thing or those few things that will leave a lasting positive impact on our world. For instance, few would ever guess that a woman making Johnny cakes for her neighbors in the middle of the 20th century on the West Indian island of Nevis would later spark and inspire a world-class youth orchestra in Roxbury. This modest woman’s selfless act would have a powerful domino effect showing me the potent fruit of living generously. [continued...]

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3 reasons why Boston is the hub of mobile advertising

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 20, 2013 11:00 AM

Boston is known for many things: world-class universities, some of the best hospitals and medical research centers in the world, and for being the sports hub of the US. It is also increasingly becoming known as a global hub of mobile advertising.

The reason is based on connecting Boston’s industries to a massive global dynamic: the unprecedented consumer shift to mobile. Mobile devices, content, games, social networks, etc. have changed the way people from across the global work, learn, and play.

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3 ways advanced tech is transforming real estate marketing

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 19, 2013 06:00 AM

It used to be that if you wanted to sell condos or a large commercial project, you designed a model unit with the best views, on the highest floor, decked out by talented interior designer and hired an aggressive broker to lure people in and close the deal.

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BU Global App Initiative provides free app dev for nonprofits

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 16, 2013 06:00 AM

Having recently been tipped off to impressive student organization Global App Initiative at Boston University by Navah Fuchs of Angel Ed I decided to follow up with them to see what was going on. Below is some recap information from student co-founder Habib Khan about their recent history and plans for 2014.

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Turn off the tech: Join us in Going Analogue

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 12, 2013 11:00 AM

The Boston area is well known for being a world leader in scientific and technological
advances, from biotechnology, to robotics, to software. We are all proud of the research
and innovation that takes place in our community. Our culture of innovation attracts
students, professionals, drives economic development and partnerships with businesses
and governments from all over the world.

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Lake Lt. Governor campaign kickoff brings out Governor Dukakis, grassroots supporters

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 12, 2013 02:30 AM

Speaking to a packed house at Ben Franklin Institute of Technology for his official campaign kickoff event, Clinton White House appointee, President & CEO of Leading Cities, and Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Mike Lake discussed his vision for the role as "Chief Marketing Officer" for the Commonwealth, noting that Massachusetts is in a global economy and "must be competitive in that global arena." Beyond discussing his international business credentials and his inspiring personal narrative of growing up the son of a high school-educated young widow, Lake discussed his campaign theme of what he refers to as the "Massachusetts Promise of opportunity that comes with high-quality education, job creation, and strong communities."

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tags BWP, politics, WCCP

3 reasons Boston dominates running brands

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 10, 2013 11:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

Last week in Austin, TX running stores and running brands from around the country convened for The Running Event, the world’s largest conference and trade show for the running industry. My give-back running apparel company, Janji, made the 2,000 mile trip from Brookline to exhibit at The Running Event and expand the list of stores that carry our line of running apparel.

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Unleash creativity for better innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 5, 2013 11:00 AM

Innovation is about bringing something new and different to market. It is the lifeblood of corporate growth; the path to winning in new markets and surviving in existing ones.

Life-altering innovations are rare, but memorable: the Model T Ford, the first television set and, most recently, the smartphone. Successful innovations on a smaller scale occur more frequently. Think about the Swiffer mop, Tide Pods laundry detergent, or liquid water enhancers.

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tags tech

Are toys and video games to blame for the tech gender gap?

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 4, 2013 11:00 AM

Women in technology jobs are overwhelmingly outnumbered by their male counterparts. At TipTap Lab, we have about an even mix of men and women working in our departments, including our engineering and technology team. This isn't something that should be terribly surprisingly. One might imagine that, since the population of the US has a gender ratio of approximately 50/50, the gender ratio in technology jobs would be the same. Unfortunately, the welcoming working environment and equal gender ratio at TipTap Lab are the exception, rather than the rule.

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Understanding the mobile workforce toolbox

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 25, 2013 11:00 AM

In the not-so-distant past, the phrase “mobile workforce” referred to salespeople and consultants who traveled every week and rarely spent time at a desk. These were the early adopters of cell phones and groundbreaking personal digital assistants (PDAs) (remember those?) like the Palm Pilot.

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How outsourced R&D drives Enterprise IT

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 21, 2013 11:00 AM

Business technology is undergoing a massive overhaul. Over the next decade, cloud computing, mobile, data analytics and new security technologies will completely transform existing IT systems. But who is bringing these disruptive technologies to market?

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Mobile apps and wearables show significant impact on corporate wellness

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 19, 2013 11:00 AM

The influx of mobile and wearable tech has paved the way for health and wellness approaches that work. And we need it.

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Knowledge transfer is understated asset for entrepreneurs

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 18, 2013 11:00 AM

It is well known that Boston has become a thriving ecosystem in which entrepreneurs forge their businesses. There are accelerators for hardware, healthcare, software and social enterprises; affordable shared workspaces; open curriculum and workshops for those looking to build new skills, technical and fundamental. The list goes on.

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Tech changes how we do business, but it's still about people

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 17, 2013 06:00 AM

I recently attended a panel discussion in the Boston area called “Collaboration Technology: The Evolution of Business.” The panel, moderated by Chad O’Connor, editor of the Global Business Hub blog on Boston.com, included two CIO’s from large companies, Sue Bergamo and Reid Nuttall, as well as David Carr, Editor-at-Large at InformationWeek and author of “Social Collaboration for Dummies,” and Tom O’Keefe, a Brand Ambassador and highly followed social media guru. [You can view the recording here.]

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Revolutionizing how people understand their own biology

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 15, 2013 11:00 AM

In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week (Tuesdays around 9AM), you can listen to it here.

Should genetically modified mosquitoes be released into the environment? How easily are you distracted compared to others? Questions like that will be posed and tested at the Museum of Science Boston’s new permanent exhibit scheduled to open November 16, the Hall of Human Life. The exhibit is set out to revolutionize how people understand their own biology according to the Museum’s creators.

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Food waste ban signals bold innovation step

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 14, 2013 11:00 AM

Once again leading the nation by example, Massachusetts is the first state in the US to ban businesses from putting organics (generally food and plant waste) in the trash. With a staggering food waste problem just starting to be addressed in the US, eyes are on Massachusetts as we change a problem into a job creating, energy producing, and money saving opportunity.

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tags energy, food, law, legal

Talent as a Service: End of outsourcing or new beginning?

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 6, 2013 11:05 AM

Fourteen years ago – back when “cloud” was purely a descriptor for unwanted weather patterns and far from synonymous with anything technology related – Marc Benioff disrupted the multi-billion dollar enterprise software industry when he launched Salesforce.com and famously declared the “End of Software.”

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How political communications is changing

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 5, 2013 11:00 AM

It’s finally over. Win or lose, the candidates and the voters alike are probably relieved. Months ago, candidates and their staffs crafted plans to meet the three basic requirements of a campaign: raising money, developing a broad and effective communications strategy and conducting a robust get-out the-vote effort. How campaigns meet these requirements has changed radically over the past decade as new tools and techniques have become available.

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The next Boston mayor will champion the arts

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 4, 2013 11:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

We don’t know who the next mayor of Boston will be. Voters will make that decision on November 5.

But here’s what we do know: The next Mayor of Boston will be a champion of the arts. Over the past several months of campaigning both John Connolly and Marty Walsh have vowed to invest in arts and cultural initiatives and use the mayor’s bully pulpit to elevate the sector.

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Reflections on Connected Health Week

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 27, 2013 06:00 AM

A robot that assists nurses and helps lift patients.

A shoe insole that tracks stride and helps rehabilitation.

A mobile and web based platform that enables consumers to take an active role in their health and wellbeing.

As a judge for the third-annual Innovator’s Challenge, held during this week’s Partners Connected Health Symposium, these were just a few of the hundred or so game-changing technologies I was privileged to review that will impact the future of connected health.

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MassChallenge Profile: MassChallenge Israel

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 26, 2013 06:00 AM

[Editor's Note: This week we are featuring MassChallenge startups as the anticipation builds towards next week's MassChallenge Awards Ceremony]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

With the 2013 MassChallenge Awards Ceremony coming up on October 30, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on one of MassChallenge’s major initiatives in 2013: MassChallenge Israel.

In 2009, John Harthorne and Akhil Nigam founded MassChallenge with a vision to catalyze a global startup renaissance - a rebirth of inspired, creative innovators who strive to create new value for the world. In our first year, MassChallenge saw applications from over 35 countries, but the idea of a global renaissance extended beyond application interest. Geographic expansion has long been a part of the MassChallenge vision and Israel was identified as the first node for that international expansion outside of Boston.

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District Hall celebrates its opening in Boston Innovation District

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 25, 2013 11:00 AM

Everybody likes a party. Everybody wants to be invited (including our counterparts at The Hive). Apparently the good folks behind District Hall have taken that approach for its "launch" in making sure that the 12,000 sq. ft. steel and concrete community collaboration space in the Innovation District is a multi-day affair for officials and business leaders to get to know about the beautiful new facility during what has been an extended soft opening.

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MassChallenge profile: Cape Commons Brewing

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 24, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: This week we are featuring MassChallenge startups as the anticipation builds towards next week's MassChallenge Awards Ceremony]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

Cape Commons Brewing Company is a social impact craft brewery that has a dual mission: to brew great craft beer and to invest in communities without access to clean drinking water. We do this through what we call our ‘batch-for-project’ model, which is our take on the popular ‘one-for-one’ model employed by various other social impact companies.

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MassChallenge profile: A Little Easier Recovery

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 23, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: This week we are featuring MassChallenge startups as the anticipation builds towards next week's MassChallenge Awards Ceremony]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

What does A Little Easier Recovery do?
A Little Easier Recovery pioneered addressing the many pitfalls advanced breast cancer patients endure following extensive surgery (mastectomy, dissection and reconstruction) typically followed by chemotherapy and radiation at a devastating time both physically and emotionally. The 501(c)3 non-profit was founded in 2006 by a stage II breast cancer patient who quickly realized all the key components that must be addressed when enduring treatment from both a patient’s needs as well as the hospital oncology caregiver’s needs.

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MassChallenge profile: ViralGains

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 22, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: This week we are featuring MassChallenge startups as the anticipation builds towards next week's MassChallenge Awards Ceremony]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

As we wind down MassChallenge in anticipation of the October 30th Awards Ceremony, I have time to reflect on how the program helped our company, ViralGains, thrive in Boston’s vibrant innovation economy.

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MassChallenge profile: Silverside Detectors

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 21, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: This week we are featuring MassChallenge startups as the anticipation builds towards next week's MassChallenge Awards Ceremony]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

"Silverside Detectors Inc. has developed a new kind of nuclear bomb detector to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism."

When we open a conversation with that bombshell (so to speak), the most typical reaction is a stunned expression. It’s not easy to focus on a problem that most people understand only in an abstract way, but choose not to think too much about.

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Edtech forum shares US, UK innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 18, 2013 11:00 AM

Politicians, investors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and students are all part of the growing edtech conversation, and the “Learning Technologies: Sharing US and UK innovation and practice” session organized by the British Consulate and hosted at Microsoft New England Research & Development Center shed light on both how far we’ve come and a glimpse of where we’re heading.

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tags education, tech, UK

A solo around-the-world entrepreneurship tour? Meet André Leonardo

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 17, 2013 11:00 AM

Having spent time in Portugal this summer I was encouraged by the early signs of its recovery with a strong future for startups. So when I heard that André Leonardo was readying to embark on an around-the-world journey, by himself for several months, to meet the entrepreneurial ecosystem I had to find out more...

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Reinventing the MOOC model for the real world

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 14, 2013 11:00 AM

In his article “Will MOOCs help you open career doors?” Scott Kirsner reveals that, while employers may be impressed by the initiative that completing a MOOC signifies, they are more interested in seeing what can be accomplished with one’s newly-won knowledge. In other words, it’s not about certificates of completion in the real world, it’s about completed pieces in a portfolio.

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Disruption for social good: disaster relief

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 7, 2013 11:00 AM

In many disasters, millions of dollars are donated and governments pledge millions to support relief efforts. As a result, you would expect supplies to be plenty and survivors to have what they need, right? After volunteering in and going to various disasters areas, all I could say was the truth is often much worse than what is reported.

Why do we fail? In every disaster, unsolicited donated supplies, often unused and abandoned, can create chaos and extra work for the relief workers, creating a bigger "trash" issue in areas already full of debris. There are also horror stories of people donating soiled clothing or expired food, which clearly serves no good end.

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Personality traits of entrepreneurs linked to cities they live in

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 26, 2013 11:00 AM

For years, Personality Psychology has provided a broad understanding of individuals and behavior. So, the idea that there is an “entrepreneurial type” of person with a set of psychological traits, probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. We are all familiar with the fact that some people just ‘have what it takes’ to succeed in various fields, and entrepreneurship is a field like any other.

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Give your life away

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 24, 2013 11:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

What will be your legacy? It is hard to know that one thing or those few things that will leave a lasting positive impact on our world. For instance, few would ever guess that a woman making Johnny cakes for her neighbors in the middle of the 20th century on the West Indian island of Nevis would later spark and inspire a world-class youth orchestra in Roxbury. This modest woman’s selfless act would have a powerful domino effect showing me the potent fruit of living generously.

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High stakes, low engagement

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 23, 2013 11:00 AM

Why Massachusetts’ Technology Sector Needs to Stay in the Political Conversation After the Tech Tax Repeal

When technology leaders across the Commonwealth received notice of a new 6.25 percent software sales tax that had just made its way through the state legislature, the notoriously apolitical innovation economy went into a frenzy. Blindsided by the news of a new burdensome taxation that would severely impact their ability to succeed, technology companies of all sizes, specialties, and operating systems struggled to interpret a series of broad and overarching guidelines to figure out how they would be translated into regulations and delved into the financial specifics with CFOs to see if it would be possible to incorporate the new costs into their pricing schemes and contracts.

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New ed tech cluster emerged at LearnLaunchX Demo Day

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 20, 2013 11:00 AM

September 18, 2013 marked an important occasion in Boston: the emergence of an education technology cluster. Two hundred investors and strategic partners convened at District Hall, a government-sponsored community space in the Seaport, to hear seven ed tech startups pitch their ideas at a Demo Day. Governor Deval Patrick and Nigel Jacob of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics joined in the festivities. Each startup had 10 minutes to describe their product, team, and how much money they are raising to enable them to grow their companies.

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The need for sustainable disaster relief

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 19, 2013 11:00 AM

At the smallest level, we know not to use a bath towel one time before we toss it in the laundry. We teach our kids to turn off the faucet when they brush their teeth. As a society, we readily embrace the need to recycle our soda cans and water bottles. The same effort to conserve limited and fragile resources needs to be applied to disaster relief, so that we don’t continually increase our carbon footprint by helping victims of the very same elevated carbon footprint.

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FutureM will showcase "Innovation at Intersections"

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 18, 2013 11:00 AM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

FutureM 2013 is just around the corner. It’s the annual event experience that showcases and celebrates the Future of Marketing. But why, you might ask, is it in Boston? Isn’t NYC the center of the universe for this space? My answer: nope.

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3 ways retail benefits from cloud collaboration

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 5, 2013 11:00 AM

When operating any business especially retail and manufacturing, collaboration is always a key piece of the puzzle. But how do you effectively achieve collaboration when there are numerous collaborators and they’re all peppered across the globe?

The cloud is key. Cloud-based technologies enable companies to go far beyond the limitations of traditional collaboration by providing platforms for seamless project management that are accessible from any location.

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Europe in focus: Portugal progress toward startup success

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 30, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: This is the final installment in a continuing series of comparative insights from the editor's summer travels in Europe. Previously featured were Dublin and London.]

Portugal has a bright outlook, and it's not just because of the beautiful weather. In meeting with the business and government community here there was a decided tone of optimism in spite of the bad economic news that is frequently reported. Yes, unemployment here is high (even higher for the young) but that doesn't deter the Portuguese from talking about the startup focused sea change they see coming in the next few years. Here's a snapshot of what's going on at just 3 exciting startup centers:

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Evolution of the app business model

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 28, 2013 11:00 AM

Apple launched the modern smartphone era during summer 2008, and in a little less than five years, the technology giant reached 50-billion App Store downloads. During this time, apps have evolved in many ways, including how they are monetized. From the initial focus on encouraging (paid) downloads to the current focus on monetizing in-app usage, mobile app publishers are beginning to think about what’s next for monetizing the app. In particular, they’re thinking about how they can leverage insights and data to maximize success.

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Europe in focus: London's Tech City

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 19, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: Continuing the series begun with a focus on Dublin and the Irish recovery]

A while back we ran in this space what I consider to be a definitive and comprehensive piece on London's Tech City zone from Phil Budden and Fiona Murray. So while in London I had to come see it for myself to put it in it's proper context. And the visual results are thus: Cambridge, Massachusetts, you were clearly onto something with your recipe for the Boston area's tech success.

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Social media, algorithms and your browser: The new investment landscape

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 15, 2013 11:00 AM

The personal investing landscape has changed radically over recent years. A culture that was once defined by information scarcity, secrecy and hoarding has been dramatically altered by the increased data availability and openness brought by the Web and social media. As a result, we find ourselves in an age of information plenty and more and more investors are turning to social networks and platforms as critical channels for investment strategies and action. The challenge has become managing the signal to noise ratio to identify and take advantage of accurate and valuable information.

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Europe in focus: 3 factors for a rising Dublin

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 12, 2013 11:00 AM

Editor's Note: As I travel through parts of Europe in August I will give periodic updates on what's going on with the the startup and larger business communities in various areas. This first installment will talk about Dublin.

Spending a few (surprisingly sunny) days in Dublin, the bustle of this city is striking. Dublin has strongly positioned itself internationally to grow its own tech community with an infusion of foreign-born talent and major-name companies (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Etsy, Indeed, Ancestry.com, Marketo, Dropbox, and HubSpot who was featured here on this a while back...need I go on) anchoring the Grand Canal area and spreading out from there. Here are some observed and gathered musings on what's sparking this resurgence.... FULL ENTRY

Don't forget the C in STEM

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 7, 2013 11:00 AM

Invention of steam technology: 1st Century AD, Hero of Alexandria, Egypt.

Invention of first commercially successful steam engine: 18th Century, Thomas Newcomen, England.

Study STEM: Then What?
The omnipresent catchword in reshaping the American educational infrastructure and economic future is STEM education: coursework in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Policymakers, business leaders, elected officials, and of course parents all know how important STEM education is for the economy of the future. There is considerable investment in STEM education at all grade levels, and it’s a catchword that has a connotation of future growth for our community. President Obama often mentions STEM at White House Science Fairs; yet there’s no easy answer how courses in calculus translate into new jobs.

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Future Boston announces Accelerate Boston 2013 class

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 5, 2013 11:00 AM

Accelerate Boston 2013 will run from August to December and will focus on three core areas of development: Strategic mentorships with business leaders, bi-monthly classes based on a traditional MBA-curriculum taught through storytelling and first-hand experiences; and "Brown Bag Lunches," casual, interactive sessions focusing on specific aspects of building a business led by experts of industry, including Bill Warner (Avid Technology), Greg Selkoe (Karmaloop.com) and Vicky Wu Davis (Youth CITIES). At the end of the six-month program, each company will pitch their business plan in an Investor showcase for the opportunity to receive funding from the panel of judges. Winners will also receive one year of incubation space at Karmaloop's headquarters in Back Bay.

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Benefit corporations (and social enterprise) are going strong

Posted by Chad O'Connor July 18, 2013 11:00 AM

As of December 1, 2012, Benefit Corporations (“B corps”) became an available entity type in Massachusetts (MGL 156e). If you haven’t been following the movement B corps “are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

When I wrote my first blog on the subject in 2010 (exploring pros and cons), the Benefit Corporation designation was only a third party designation granted by B Lab, a non-profit group. Since that time B Lab has been busy working with states to create an actual benefit corporation structure that includes state mandated transparency and accountability. Now B corps have been approved in 14 states. (Breaking News: Delaware’s Governor, Jack Markell, enacted benefit corporation legislation on July 17th, 2013. Delaware is seen as the leader in setting corporate laws and policy, and is considered to be the most attractive venue for investors and international business. This is a big step towards taking social enterprise from the fringe to the norm. You can read the press release here.)

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Startup BLVD announces two great opportunities

Posted by Chad O'Connor July 15, 2013 11:00 AM

The team at Startup BLVD is partnering on two great new opportunities for startups:

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Mobility for a global business environment

Posted by Chad O'Connor June 27, 2013 10:05 AM

When you think of enterprise mobility today, do you think of a traveling or remote workforce? That’s part of it, but far from complete. Even in a company with a singular location, time spent behind desks is dwindling. Workers are dashing between meetings, teaming in hallways or conference rooms and perhaps including remotely distributed teammates beyond the “normal” workday. That means workers need to be just as, if not more productive in and out of the office. Business leaders shouldn’t just be concerned with “remote” or “mobile” workers. Nearly everyone is carrying a device and there is immense opportunity to transform organizations through mobility.

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Monetization trumps innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor June 19, 2013 11:00 AM

If you’re building a business or trying to make your existing company grow, monetization needs to be the first thing on your mind.

As an angel investor, I hear thousands of business propositions that stress innovation and lack the necessary monetization. These business developers walk through my door with great passion and excitement about their idea, but often miss the most crucial part of building a company. I remind them that even the greatest idea in the world cannot be built without a suitable business model of how to make money. Having sold numerous companies, I firmly believe that focusing on how to make $1 into $2, is not only the key for allowing a company to get off the ground, but to subsequently survive.

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3 pillars of highly creative workplaces

Posted by Chad O'Connor June 12, 2013 11:00 AM

Have you ever walked into an office space and lost your breath? State-of-the-art chairs, reclaimed wood, intimate lighting and brushed steel fixtures are the latest trends in the modern office. While the design might win architectural awards, this beautiful office space will likely be for sale in a few years if it cannot sustain an ecosystem based on collaboration and innovation.

An office is an external expression of a company’s ethos and personality. Employees, customers and prospects attach significant – perhaps subliminal – associations with organizations based on the place they call home. Collaboration, creativity and innovation are key components of the modern workplace and an increasingly important recruitment tool for successful companies to attract top-tier talent. Given the nature and speed of business today, how can the workplace contribute positively to performance? There is no blueprint for creating innovative work environments but there are characteristics that can be emulated and adapted by every creative business.

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Design for understanding? Watch the Swiss.

Posted by Chad O'Connor June 4, 2013 11:00 AM

Revolutions in computing and communications have produced a relentless flood of information about our world and ourselves—right down to our DNA. Today, Boston’s research and technology sectors generate, process and interpret huge amounts of data across industries, from global business to personal genomics.

This information gives us fresh insight and new answers, but presents its own critical questions. Namely, how do we each understand it?

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A guide to innovation diplomacy in Boston

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 24, 2013 11:00 AM

Like many Bostonians, I start my daily morning routine with public radio, and inevitably the top world stories are conflict: civil war of epic proportions, sectarian violence, bristling geopolitical disputes between great powers. It feels a world away for many, but deadly terrorism has struck our community, on Patriot’s Day no less. The resilience of our civil society has been evident during this tragedy. But what can we do here in Boston? How can we take it upon ourselves to be diplomats, not only in a volunteer capacity, but how can innovation diplomacy permeate the very essence of our business activity?

This topic is a very personal one for me. After serving five years in the military, during 9/11 and the Iraq War, I sought to embark on a path of citizen diplomacy in organizations large and nascent, which led me from Odessa, Karachi and Tokyo. Yet one does not need to travel abroad to be an innovation diplomat with impact. In Greater Boston we have a world-class community of innovators; there are concrete ways you can take the lead to build bridges. Here are some of my recommendations for ways you can incorporate innovation diplomacy into your professional activity:

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Hosting a school taught us lessons about ourselves

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 23, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

When Communispace designed our new headquarters at Atlantic Wharf during 2010, we deliberately included expansion space that we could grow into. At our former office in Watertown, we had always grown quickly. As a result, our space was discontinuous and extremely cramped with people sitting at makeshift desks often located in hallways. In the new Boston location, we wanted to spread out and have plenty of room to expand into as the company grew.

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Future Boston Alliance at first year shows building community matters

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 22, 2013 11:00 AM

In an age where social media trumps face to face conversations and where innovation is too-often associated with technology only, establishing a community of like-minded individuals was paramount to Future Boston Alliance’s success. As if starting a new nonprofit did not present its own set of barriers, launching one that prodded at hot button issues such as Boston’s post-collegiate brain drain, extending the MBTA’s service, archaic laws and affordable housing naturally established some early road blocks.

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A look at Massachusetts entrepreneurial ecosystem with Edward Melia

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 21, 2013 11:00 AM

I wanted to learn more about our entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Massachusetts, so I sat down with Edward Melia, a Boston-based serial entrepreneur and investor to get his insight. Melia works closely with investment groups, family offices, strategic buyers, and sovereign wealth funds to identify and vet early stage high potential innovation and discovery in technology and life sciences.

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City of Boston looks to partner on real-time purchase data in neighborhoods

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 19, 2013 11:00 AM

The City of Boston's Department of New Urban Mechanics through the Office of Business Development is looking for a software solution to showcase purchases made at neighborhood stores in real-time, as well as display this information in public platforms in order to impact local businesses in a measurable/data driven way.

The City is seeking startups willing to form a long-term partnership to develop a solution in large scale.

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Recapping the Angel Ed Student Debt Forum

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 18, 2013 11:00 AM

Student debt is a hot topic on many lips, and the center of attention at Angel Ed’s Student Debt Forum. We brought together thought leaders in innovation, academia, and youth enrichment to discuss the issues, as well as begin coming to a consensus on the action steps needed to make headway on “the elephant in the room.”

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Buy local, for fresh tech and ideas that help you succeed

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 17, 2013 11:00 AM

In order to support our innovation ecosystem, Massachusetts based companies should buy local when they can.

There are enormous benefits to having your best partners in your backyard: you can dig in with them, face to face, to truly understand and continuously learn, creating successful solutions; and you are fostering relationships that will help our innovation economy grow. It can help your own organization by bringing in new insight, fresh thinking and a fast infusion of innovative ideas.

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Getting serious about design

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 13, 2013 12:35 PM

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

Entrepreneurs are serious about good ideas; but most will tell you that coming up with the idea is the easy part. It’s the little things like patience, impeccable timing, and both the ability to execute or make the connections with those who can, that determine one’s success. Of course there is that minor detail of gaining a following, finding the people that believe in you and your idea, and motivating them to get the word out.

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Startups need to collaborate with academia more often

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 8, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: Join former Global Business Hub editors Devin Cole and Meg Reilly at Lir on Boylston Street on May 9th for the "Toast the Press" event to show some #journolove]

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

How can entrepreneurs best harness the wisdom from academics, and the energy from students, in order to advance small businesses? Startups are successfully solving big problems, which is why people are moving here, taking risks, starting companies and creating jobs. There is an obvious yet under-recognized advantage to being an entrepreneur in Boston: the potential for partnership with top academic institutions and young minds. It is time for startups to fully take advantage of one of Boston’s greatest benefits, and work with academics to form new businesses based on innovative research.

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Boston: The next generation payments hub

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 6, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: Join former Global Business Hub editors Devin Cole and Meg Reilly at Lir on Boylston Street on May 9th for the "Toast the Press" event to show some #journolove]

New England is a hub for innovation and residents are notably proud of the important technological developments born in our backyard. We’ve dominated the biotech and enterprise software markets, so what’s the next industry to create big waves in New England’s innovation pool? Financial technology.

There is an evident uptick in the number of mobile commerce companies that have evolved in Boston and the surrounding areas in the past few years, and for good reason. Boston is often overshadowed by Silicon Valley as a hotbed for tech startups because of some amazing companies that flourished out West and are now pillars of entrepreneurship. The difference is that Boston is earning a much stronger reputation for developing technology that bridges the on and offline worlds. Local innovations in the robotics and medical device industries are two good examples of that.

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Boston tech cluster is mobile magic

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 29, 2013 11:00 AM

39% of smartphone owners use it while going to the bathroom. Yes that's correct.

According to eMarketer, in 2013 the number of mobile shoppers in the US will increase to 118 million consumers and represent 62% of digital shoppers. 82% of marketers in the US expect to expand their mobile media spending in 2013. It took 16 years for traditional web-media spending to reach $1billion. Mobile reached that in 5 years. In 2013, Temkin Group reports that in the US 57% go online using their mobile phone, and 16% do so for at least 3 hours daily.

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Design Museum Boston opens Street Seats, where the city is the museum

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 24, 2013 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

Back in 2009 I was running an organization focused on professional development for product designers. As we collaborated with other design industry groups more and more, it became abundantly clear that there is an incredible amount of creative work happening in Boston, but that there was no one talking directly to the public about design.

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Earth Day 2013: Internet helps us help the planet

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 22, 2013 11:00 AM

Today, April 22nd, is Earth Day! Across the country small towns and college campuses are showcasing how important a healthy environment is to our everyday lives. At Harvard and other colleges, there are movie screenings, e-waste pickups, multiple Earth Day Fairs, public service events, and more. Let’s not forget how important Earth Day is - the first Earth day brought 20 million people out of their homes, making it the largest organized celebration in US history. However, today we know that the challenges we face are bigger than one day’s work can handle. Climate change threatens Boston’s very existence.

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Boston Marathon bombing shows problems with cell phone networks

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 20, 2013 07:00 AM

On Marathon Monday my fiancee and I went to the Red Sox game and we were walking down Newbury St. to get some food and cocktails. When we got to Exeter and Newbury (around 2:40pm-ish) we contemplated heading over to Boylston and walking by the finish line, but my desire for a post-game cocktail was greater than my need to walk a block out of my way and fight a crowd.

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tags data, safety

Solving the customer service gap through mobile innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 11, 2013 11:00 AM

Business owners innovate when it comes to their products, company culture, and business models. Good entrepreneurs are constantly looking for the next big thing, the pioneering idea that will help grow their businesses and establish them as visionaries. But a much overlooked element of every business, which is desperately in need of innovation, is customer communication.

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Enterprise mobility: app rollout pace quickens

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 8, 2013 11:00 AM

Is your company on pace to launch two, four, or even 10 mobile apps this year? If not, you could be falling behind the leadership pace.

In a Web-based poll conducted by my company, Verivo Software, respondents were asked to choose a range of mobile apps their organizations were planning to build in the next 12 months. Out of almost 800 respondents, 30 percent said they would build five to nine apps while 27 percent said they would build between two to four mobile apps over the course of 12 months.

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Internal innovation grants help employees leverage ideas and tech

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 2, 2013 11:00 AM

As the local economy continues to improve, boosted by the recent surge of construction activity in Massachusetts, it has become even more evident for forward-looking companies to spend time, energy and resources to create new and innovative technologies to utilize in the field in order to stay ahead of the competition.

In 2010, we (at Skanska USA) launched our Innovation Grant Program which dedicates resources and financial support to encourage employees to think creatively about new ideas and technologies that help make jobsites more efficient. With additional funding, our employees are able to refine and implement ideas destined to transform the way the construction industry does business, while also promoting 100% collaboration across all job sites and regional offices throughout the U.S., including right here in Massachusetts.

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REEL Innovators: Harpoon Brewery (part 3)

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 29, 2013 11:00 AM

Harpoon Brewery has a lot going on, from its celebrated 100 Barrel Series to its newly opened beer hall in the Innovation District. A while back REEL Entrepreneurs took some cameras to the brewery to meet the Harpoon team and learn what's going on behind the scenes. Check out the final installment in this series on Harpoon!

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Biba Beverages

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 27, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive. The MassChallenge 2013 application deadline is April 3 - get started on your application or send top entrepreneurs here: masschallenge.org/apply

How did Biba Beverages get started?
Biba Beverages is a line of all natural sparkling hydration beverages designed for everyday "off the field" hydration issues. It is loaded with electrolytes and vitamins and has no caffeine or preservatives. I [founder David Paquette] came up with the idea for Biba after surviving the Boston Marathon in 85 degree heat. I was severely dehydrated and ended up in the medical tent where I was given an IV of fluids. I felt so good afterwards that I was ready to run home! It really impressed on me the power and value of hydration. At this time the vodka market was just starting to take off and I wondered why there was no product on the market that could be mixed with alcohol and could be as powerful as the hydration effects I had at the marathon, so I decided to make my own. Everyone knows alcohol dehydrates you! I worked with a beverage developer and researched all of our ingredients and came up with a secret blend that not only tasted amazing and light, but was truly functional.

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MassChallenge startup NBA Math Hoops creates buzz on The Hive

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 18, 2013 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

A few weeks back our Help a MassChallenge Startup series featured NBA Math Hoops. [The MassChallenge 2013 application deadline is April 3 - get started on your application or send top entrepreneurs here: masschallenge.org/apply]

Well our colleagues at The Hive and our friends at REEL Entrepreneurs [who bring you the REEL Innovators series and who are casting this weekend for a new series featuring startups - make sure to apply by Wednesday 3/20!] recently collaborated on a great video that showcases NBA Math Hoops in action. Check it out here!

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Does ratepayer advocacy stifle innovation?

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 16, 2013 11:00 AM

Innovation involves risk: when doing something new you cannot always know whether it will work. In other words, many efforts in innovation may end up in a dead end, and one might argue that such effort is a waste. And yet, without such risk-taking, innovation cannot take place.

Many cleantech companies have come up with brilliant new technologies and products. Residential customers can now imagine managing their energy consumption with an app, maybe turning on the washing machine at night only when the price of electricity dips below a certain threshold, or maybe charging the electrical car from their own solar panels.

Managers of the grid can imagine a solution to our current problem: that expensive power plants stand idle all year except for the peak usage during hottest few hours of summer – a crazy expense that we all pay for through our electricity rates. Modernization in the grid could arguably save money over time. And reduce our carbon footprint.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Bow & Drape

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 13, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

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Creative Industries connecting the creative dots

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 11, 2013 11:00 AM

[This article is part of the We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and the talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of the Massachusetts economy, with a $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 Massachusetts workers. Click here to learn more.]

A digital game designer in Cambridge is getting ready to launch a new addictive smartphone game, a furniture designer in Northampton is making showpieces for an upcoming convention, an artist in Haverhill is creating new product lines from his ancient art form, and an author is ready to start on his latest fantasy novel in Boylston.

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Constructive disruption, without the bruises

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 8, 2013 11:00 AM

One thing innovators love to talk about is disruption - that one single advancement that will burst onto the scene and change for the better how everything is done. But innovators need markets to improve, and when seeking out the next big thing, not all markets are created equal. The challenges associated with groundbreaking innovations in say, the mobile field, are very different from changes in markets that are more traditional in nature.

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Out in the ecosystem: Out of Home America CEO Jon Selame

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 5, 2013 11:00 AM

Ever wonder how that billboard you see gets up there? Companies work with out-of-home
media agencies to rent space. Out-of-home (OOH) media includes all media formats that can be viewed outside of one’s home, and includes billboards, buses, experiential advertising, event marketing, and digital place-based media. While just five years ago, this media format was seen as dated it is now becoming rich with innovation, metrics, and data.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Nordic Technology Group

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 27, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Nordic Technology Group get started?
“Like many people, I live far away from my aging parents,” says Erik Wernevi, Founder and CEO of Nordic Technology Group. “I got the idea for our service after a serious fall in my family. As I spoke to others, I realized that our family was not alone. In fact, many people have experienced incidents where a loved one has not been helped by existing technologies.” He adds, “With our unique sensors and software, we are able to detect more urgent health problems, giving people the freedom to live longer at home.”

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Crowdsourcing: A burgeoning jobs market for the jobless recovery

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 26, 2013 11:00 AM

As the improvement in the nation’s economic outlook—coined the “jobless recovery” by the New York Times in 2010—has been slow-going in some markets, the number of unemployed and underemployed remains high. So the question is, where will the high-paying opportunities of the future come from? Are we destined for a world where these positions are merely sourced offshore to places with a lower cost of living?

Part of the answer lies in an idea whose roots hearken back to the dawn of the “New Economy.” Fifteen years ago, Fast Company touted the benefits of “Free Agent Nation” – the millions who were, by choice, maintaining their independence as self-employed or independent contractors, selectively moving from one opportunity to the next.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Guided Surgery Solutions

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 20, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Guided Surgery Solutions get started?
Dr. Jerome Haber is a Wellesley-based periodontist and award-winning researcher who has placed dental implants for much of his 36-year career. He invented the products behind Guided Surgery Solutions in his clinical practice, out of a desire to provide his patients with the best possible care, and a dissatisfaction with currently available products.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Off the Cob

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 13, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Off the Cob get started?
Off the Cob Founder Cameron Sheldrake, age 22, had a great appreciation for natural food. However his began at the age of 6 working on his parent’s vegetable and flower farm in Ithaca, NY. While purchasing snacks for late night studying at Babson he noticed that all the chips on the shelf were made from dry field corn that is high in starch. The majority use GMO grain and copy each other’s flavors of black bean, lime, sweet potato and multi-grain. None were made with sweet corn. Here was something different that could appeal to American’s love of snacks and sweet palate. In his third year at Babson, Cameron began experimenting with recipes to see which expressed the fullest flavor of sweet corn.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: NBA Math Hoops

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 6, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did NBA Math Hoops get started?
Our country is facing a crisis. Nationally, 65% of Eighth Grade students are not proficient in math, and that number jumps to 83% among lower-income students. There is a strong correlation between failing a math class in middle school and dropping out of high school, which leads to a lifetime of struggle. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiatives are becoming increasingly important on the national stage. NBA Math Hoops’ mission is to improve math literacy by creating and distributing innovative, fun, effective educational tools that harness the power of basketball.

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Youth CITIES helps kid entrepreneurs find their mission

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 5, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's note: I recently had the pleasure of attending a Youth CITIES Monthly Mini-Hack where the serendipity of the Greater Boston innovation ecosystem was on full display. Hosted at the Cambridge Innovation Center just down the hall from the regular Thursday Venture Cafe, it was amazing to watch entrepreneurs of all backgrounds come through the room to observe presentations from kids, asking smart questions and offering gentle guidance and encouragement to the youngest of entrepreneurs. I asked some follow up questions of Youth CITIES founder Vicky Wu Davis to get the rest of the story.]

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NIH funding cuts will harm Massachusetts

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 31, 2013 11:00 AM

As the clock ticks on Congress’ agreement to temporarily avert the fiscal cliff, we must ensure any attempt at a resolution does not include drastic cuts to investments in early stage research, the fuel of Massachusetts’ economic engine.

On the chopping block should across-the-board cuts be implemented—$2.4 billion in National Institutes of Health funding, a significant share of which comes to Massachusetts academic medical centers, research institutions and early-stage companies to undertake some of the most complicated medical research out there.

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Boston just got more awesome

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 28, 2013 11:00 AM

It was a cold, clear, winter day, only a year ago when the seed was planted. A dedicated group of Boston-based community leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, academics and government leaders gathered together at the 2012 World Class Cities Partnership Chatham Forum to think about how to make Greater Boston a better place to live and work, with an eye on innovation and futuristic thinking. A recurring theme – our Innovation Economy has a PR problem.

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Boston’s e-commerce boom

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 24, 2013 11:00 AM

A New Year is always a good time to look ahead and make some predictions about the future. So here’s mine: Greater Boston will become the e-commerce innovation capital of the world in 2013. Wait. What?

E-commerce is on fire, Cyber Monday this past holiday season put up record numbers of online shoppers. As the percentage of people with smartphones and tablets is continuously rising from big to giant, mobile commerce is also becoming a key factor in sales for many companies. In fact, Boston-based online retailer RueLaLa said that more than 40% of their sales come from mobile.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: MassChallenge

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 23, 2013 11:00 AM

[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

The “Help a MassChallenge” Biz Hub series aims to connect individual startups with whatever they need to continue to grow. With MassChallenge 2013 applications opening in February, this week we’ll take a broader scope, asking why and how we should help entrepreneurs now:

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Future Boston Alliance pitches a winner with Accelerate Boston

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 17, 2013 11:00 AM

In August, Future Boston Alliance (FBA), announced the 25 businesses that were selected to participate in its inaugural accelerator program, Accelerate Boston. As a non-profit with the goal of improving the cultural and entrepreneurial environment by making Boston a hub for collaboration and innovation, Accelerate Boston catered specifically to entrepreneurs looking to build creative economy focused businesses.

On January 15th at the Revere Hotel, FBA held their first business pitch competition and chose the winners of the 2012 Accelerate Boston Program. The event was attended by over 85 close friends & supporters and ended with a lively award ceremony event with food and drinks.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Native Brain

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 16, 2013 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Native Brain get started?
The two Native Brain co-founders, Michael Connell and Jeff Durso, met as undergraduates at MIT. After earning a Master’s degree in Computer Science there, Michael went deep into education – eventually earning a Doctorate in Education at Harvard - while Jeff completed a degree at MIT’s Sloan School and went on to become a serial entrepreneur.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Lovin' Spoonfuls

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 9, 2013 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Lovin’ Spoonfuls get started?
In early 2010, Lovin’ Spoonfuls founder Ashley Stanley recognized a need for food rescue in Boston. Stanley witnessed the amount of food that was being thrown away by local food service establishments and questioned why so much food was going to waste when the number of hungry and homeless individuals in Massachusetts continued to increase. After some initial research, Stanley was shocked by the statistics she found: 40% of all food produced in the US goes to waste every year, while 49 million Americans are classified as food insecure. Inspired to take action, Stanley initially used her own car to pick up unsold food and deliver it to local soup kitchens and shelters in need. She has since acquired two food delivery vehicles and the Lovin’ Spoonfuls team has distributed almost 200,000 pounds of fresh, healthy food to meal assistance programs across Greater Boston.

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MassMVP: Medtech opportunities and veterans’ skills

Posted by Chad O'Connor January 8, 2013 11:00 AM

Part of our mission at the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is to accelerate economic growth by investing in the Commonwealth’s life sciences ecosystem. A vital contributor to the success of that ecosystem is our world class workforce. At the MLSC we are committed to further strengthening the talents of our life sciences workforce and also to doing all that we can to ensure that citizens across the Commonwealth have the opportunity to develop the skills to successfully compete for life sciences jobs. To meet these goals, our programs include grants that enable vocational and technical schools and high schools to purchase training equipment and supplies; internship opportunities for college students all around the state; and our newest initiative workforce training for our returning veterans.

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In case you missed it: Brian Halligan

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 28, 2012 11:00 AM

If you haven't seen it, it's new to you! Earlier this year our friends at REEL Entrepreneurs caught up with Brain Halligan, co-founder of Hubspot. Learn what makes Hubspot such a smashing success here.

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Insights from the MIT Energy Finance Forum

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 21, 2012 11:00 AM

The recent annual MIT Energy Finance Forum gave a splendid view into the current state of energy affairs in which smart technologies using renewable energies exist in a world full of bewildering politics and hidden subsidies.

An offshore wind farm may exemplify the problem, seen from a financing perspective alone. The capital expenditure is large. But the operational costs are very small, because the fuel is free, unlike gas, coal, or nuclear.

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Four ways social HR will transform business in 2013

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 20, 2012 11:00 AM

‘Tis the season for decking the halls and finalizing 2013 budgets. As you and your company crunch the figures for the year ahead, there’s something that can dramatically alter your bottom line to get on your radar: Social HR. Over the coming months and years, businesses that don’t embrace social HR will not only struggle to retain employees but companies that don’t understand what this is all about will struggle to survive at all.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Roammeo

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 19, 2012 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Roammeo get started?
Roammeo is a web and mobile search engine made for the moments when people know that something good must be going on in their area, but they don’t know what that “something” is.

It began with Roammeo’s co-founder and CEO, Jessica Cole falling in love with her college city of New Haven. She read newsletter subscriptions, walked from bulletin board to bulletin board, and created a Field Trip Society list to discover and share everything that was going on. Meanwhile, as an urban studies major and Urban Fellow, Jessica saw the other side of the story: local event hosts were still having to rely on expensive print advertising or ineffective online marketing to let their events be found. She and her teammates knew there had to be a way to save their peers time and organizations money.

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Reverse innovation's big impact for consumers

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 18, 2012 11:00 AM

For most of the last two centuries innovations have flowed from rich countries to poor countries, but in the coming decades we are likely to see innovations also flow in the opposite direction, from poor to rich countries.

If “reverse innovation” sounds counter-intuitive, it is. One can readily understand why poor countries will embrace innovations from rich countries. It is no surprise, for instance, that demand is booming in emerging economies for smartphones, washing machines, cars, and the like.

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We should all be of One Mind for Research

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 17, 2012 11:00 AM

I recently had the pleasure to meet the executive team for One Mind for Research at Swissnex, the Swiss Consulate of Boston. In this interview with the CEO General Pete Chiarelli (Ret.) we discuss some of the next steps for this crucial organization.

General Chiarelli recently served as the Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, where he was a tireless advocate for eliminating the stigma associated with Service Members and Veterans getting the help they need for the treatment of the invisible wounds of war.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Calcbench

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 12, 2012 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Calcbench get started?
Calcbench is a unique, next generation financial data provider. We operate in an unusual place, at the intersection of two very disparate fields: one very cutting edge (big data + artificial intelligence), and the other slow moving and old fashioned (accounting).

In short, we provide our customers financial information for about 8,500 companies listed on US based stock exchanges. And we are able to do this with more detail, faster, and at a much better value than other financial data providers because we are the first company to fully harness the power of a new, government mandated data reporting standard called XBRL. Therefore we are not constrained by the often very manual data collection process that has traditionally been used.

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What's happening in innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 7, 2012 11:00 AM

Innovation in Boston is special. At Continuum we work around the world in hubs of innovation: Boston, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Seoul, and Shanghai; but Boston has a very particular take on innovation. We are not the wild and crazy guys – you can go to Milan or LA for that – but in Boston we know how to think clearly about a business challenge and get the idea right. Boston is the creative brain of the innovation economy. It is amazing how many ideas start here.

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Governor Patrick speaks at hack/reduce opening

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 6, 2012 11:00 AM

Our friends over at REEL Entrepreneurs have been highlighting some great stuff going on with Big Data around Boston. Why is Big Data important to the future of the Massachusetts economy you may be asking? Hear it straight from hack/reduce founders Fred Lalonde and Chris Lynch and from Governor Deval Patrick!

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Ubiqi Health

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 5, 2012 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Ubiqi Health get started?
Prior to founding Ubiqi Health, CEO Jacqueline Thong worked in the clinical research field implementing hand-held patient data collection systems for pharmaceutical phase II and III studies. Through that experience, she saw how patients seemed to gain more control over their conditions by regularly reporting their symptoms. Even more interesting was that some patients asked if they could have access to the summary reports that were provided to their physicians. Unfortunately, in a controlled clinical trial setting, Jacqueline and her colleagues were unable to oblige with this request, but that got her thinking about how patient self-reporting tools could be adapted for a consumer market to help people manage their chronic conditions.

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When will we get the smart grid we deserve?

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 4, 2012 11:00 AM

There is a lot of cool innovation related to the smart grid. And it is sorely needed because our current electrical grid barely uses IT, or any of the smart ideas that start-up companies have come up with. Of course, in 2001 the National Academy of Engineering famously declared the electrical grid “the single most important engineering achievement of the 20th century,” and yet in 2012 it already seems clunky. The losses in the system are immense, and we keep huge amounts of power on standby all year for a few hours of heatwave in the summer. We have difficulties integrating renewable energy, and very few end consumers have a clue what they are paying for.

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Thinking Boston: Building the open, connected 21st Century city

Posted by Chad O'Connor December 3, 2012 11:00 AM

What do leading cities of the 21st Century need to do to accelerate economic development, to attract and to retain the best talent and companies? Almost 5 years ago at the encouragement of Mayor Thomas Menino this question was debated in Boston by a cross-section of leading experts over a series of working sessions. At the time, the open-networks economy of live and social connecting was only emerging, far from the present ubiquity of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and niche meet-ups and tweet-ups. Access was often limited to invited guests or exclusively to professionals in preferred sectors.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: ZoomTilt

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 28, 2012 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did ZoomTilt get started?
For as far back as we can remember, audiences skipped over boring branded video commercials while talented filmmakers submitted engaging work to film festivals hoping to be discovered. ZoomTilt was founded in 2012 in order to connect the world of video marketing and filmmaking to make great, original stories and solve the problems on both sides.

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Startup job descriptions: the real version

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 21, 2012 11:00 AM

Ross, my business partner (his title is CEO), and I were laughing as we stuffed t-shirt scraps into trash bags.

"Imagine if we wrote this in our job description: Cut thousands of t-shirts into square one foot by one foot pieces, and then wait until t-shirt scrap pile took over too much space in office, and then drive dozens of gallon trash bags to Worcester to get them recycled so that Millbury Recycling can break them down into particles that can be stuffed into car seats.

A potential investor recently told us we had to be more realistic about our job duties, and as an exercise, write down what our duties consist of during the week. This seemed crazy at the time, but as I gave it some more thought, while typing USPS delivery confirmation codes, ‘3432 2134...” into shopify, I thought about how it could be useful.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: RallyPoint

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 12, 2012 11:00 AM

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did RallyPoint get started?
RallyPoint’s founders first met in the Baghdad Province of Iraq in 2008. Yinon Weiss was serving as a Special Forces commander, while Aaron Kletzing was a Company Fire Support officer. But, as is so often the case, the two lost contact when they were deployed in different directions. Three years later, they reunited at Harvard Business School. They shared similar interests, backgrounds and ultimately the same career path. If the military was a private business, they’d have been professional contacts that could have helped each other along the way. But, unlike the private sector, there was no practical way in the military for the two to stay connected on a professional level. RallyPoint was therefore born out of the desire to help others stay connected and gain greater control over their military careers.

RallyPoint finished as runner-up in the 2012 Harvard Business School Business Plan Competition and won this year’s MassChallenge. RallyPoint’s Board of Advisors includes General (Retired) George Casey, who most recently served as the US Army Chief of Staff – the most senior ranking member of the US Army. Prior to that position, Casey commanded all forces in Iraq.

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Big Data, big talent challenge

Posted by Chad O'Connor November 2, 2012 11:00 AM

Maybe data geeks truly are superheroes (see Tom Davenport's recent HBR article, "Data Scientist, the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century," for further credence) particularly if they can further bolster the Commonwealth's innovation economy. But right now, they appear to be in short supply -- or even nonexistent, particularly the ones being sought by most employers. But there are solutions for companies large and small to make Boston a true Big Data Hub.

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Innovation Week in Massachusetts: MassChallenge gives out awards

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 26, 2012 11:00 AM

It was a pretty special week around here as Governor Patrick declared Innovation Week in Massachusetts, highlighting the dizzying array of innovation themed events that were happening with 8 conferences and showcases going simultaneously. Thankfully there was an awesome site set up at AwesomeBoston.org and #InnoWeekMA conversation on Twitter just to help people keep track of it all!

One of the big events of the week was the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony, bringing out a large and enthusiastic crowd to support some amazing startups that were eligible for some sizable cash prizes. Our friends at REEL Entrepreneurs were there to capture it.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Cellanyx Diagnostics

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 22, 2012 11:10 AM

[Editor's Note: Attend the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony to celebrate startups on October 23rd, 2012. The event is part of Innovation Week in Massachusetts during which time 8 conferences are happening simultaneously. Join the conversation on Twitter #InnoWeekMA]

When did you start Cellanyx and what got you all together to work on this?
Cellanyx Diagnostics is a development stage company innovating in-vitro tissue and cell culturing techniques for use in research and in-vitro diagnostics. Leveraging a novel suite of biomarkers, microfluidic technology and computational techniques, Cellanyx Diagnostics will offer a quantitative and objective diagnostic for prostate cancer.

Cellanyx's technology has been under development since 2009. After placing first-runner up at the 2011 MIT 100K in the life science's category, Cellanyx's team has been steadily growing and now consists of 5 full-time and 7 part-time employees. Cellanyx's team is passionate about the solution and technology it is applying to the growing need for more quantitative and sensitive cancer diagnostic tests, particularly in prostate cancer.

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Epcot meets The Jetsons: Futuristic city underway in Portugal

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 11, 2012 11:00 AM

The World Class Cities Partnership, an international research collaborative of municipal governments and universities headquartered at Northeastern University, is currently leading a delegation of Greater Boston's business, civic, academic and non-profit leaders on its annual Policy Exchange Mission to explore the Azores and Lisbon, Portugal. Portuguese officials are sharing their expertise in waterfront redevelopment, the innovation economy and an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Delegates, led by Michael Lake, WCCP executive director, will bring back their findings and look for opportunities to share and apply them in the Boston area, beginning with the WCCP's annual Chatham Forum.

LISBON/PAREDES - Boston has a long history of being an innovative city with creative, "revolutionary" ideas often in the works along with an educated, forward-thinking and passionate talent pool from around the globe. A recent trip begs the question, where else can Boston go? A group of business leaders had a chance to see the future first hand.

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The Hive gets you buzzing about Boston's innovation economy

Posted by Chad O'Connor October 5, 2012 11:10 AM

We really enjoy featuring startups and innovative companies that have solidified Massachusetts as an economic engine for the future. Well, so do our friends at The Hive, recently launched on Boston.com to be your destination for "all things innovation and startup in Greater Boston." And we've got to say that they put together a pretty great launch party.

Recently The Hive launched "The Innovators" series with our frequent collaborators at REEL Entrepreneurs. Check out this great piece on MassChallenge, which just announced its top 26 startups in preparation for its big Awards Ceremony on October 23rd.

For more great video and articles on the Boston innovation scene make sure you fly on over to The Hive and start following @HiveBoston on Twitter.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: LookFlix

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 26, 2012 11:00 AM

Another installment in our periodic series on MassChallenge startups, what they offer, and what they need. Attend the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony to celebrate startups on October 23rd

How did you come up with the idea for LookFlix?
Yang Yu (co-founder): We feel that shopping for clothes online is lacking the essences of shopping, such as trying things on, mixing and matching to create new looks, and socializing with friends. We wanted a virtual closet like in the movie “Clueless”, where discovering amazing looks is always at our fingertips.

Who is your target user?
Right now, most of the products on LookFlix are for 16 to 35 year old women but we welcome everyone to give LookFlix a try.


Yang Yu / LookFlix


LookFlix wants to be your convenient fashion tool

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Old school meet new school: How universities are adapting to build entrepreneurs

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 25, 2012 11:00 AM

Facebook started in a Harvard dorm room. iRobot got its start in MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab. Sand 9 was founded as a Boston University Photonics Center spinout. In Boston, business and higher education have long been intertwined.

And now more than ever before, a new wave of innovation is coming directly from Boston-area institutions, fueled by programs like Northeastern’s IDEA, Harvard’s i3, Tufts’ Business Plan Competition, Startup Babson, and Emerson’s E3 which fund and foster the next generation of business leaders. With a wide range of new initiatives, Boston’s colleges and universities are embracing entrepreneurship with new programs and resources that promote innovation and create opportunities for students to become successful entrepreneurs.

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Mentoring Greater Boston's next generation of entrepreneurs

Posted by Meg Reilly September 18, 2012 09:00 AM

The Boston area is a leader for innovation, entrepreneurship and attracting top talent. There are currently a number of important organizations in our city mentoring, inspiring, and preparing high school students, to carry the entrepreneurial and innovation baton. Citizen Schools, Artists for Humanities, The Trinity Foundation, Beacon Academy and Youth CITIES, are a few organizations leading this effort.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the State House that supports high school students’ initiatives to bring teen entrepreneurship to Boston. Winchester High School student Ingrid Li, founder of the Entrepreneurial Youth Society, and her team engineered this event and garnered the support of heavy weights such as Senator Katherine Clark and Representative Alice Peisch to inspire teens to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. Tim Rowe, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Center and Greg Selko, CEO of Karmaloop, two well-respected local entrepreneurs, along with Vicky Wu Davis, Executive Director of Youth CITIES, also spoke to the students. Since new city, INC is interested in topics around growing, keeping and attracting talent, this event was of particular interest, especially as it involves our youth.

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5 sales metrics every startup should adopt

Posted by Jennifer Spencer September 13, 2012 10:25 AM

One of the most important decisions to make while growing your company is what to measure to most effectively evaluate success. Too few metrics means you are flying blind, but too many means you are lost in data. The most logical benchmark for measuring the successes of any young company is, naturally, sales. But there are five other sales-related metrics that are worth tracking if you can do it.

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Boston: A city thriving in B2B technologies

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 7, 2012 11:00 AM

We at FreeCause love the city of Boston. It’s where we’ve called home for the past 3 years (having moved from Cambridge) and to us there’s no better city to operate out of. Everything about the city – its history, culture, food, pool of creative and talented workers, ease of getting around, individual neighborhoods – all gel to help give the city an incredibly vibrant atmosphere.

Boston is also a strong hub for businesses in general. Due to the heavy concentration of top academic institutions and a robust VC and incubator community, Boston enjoys a rich technology community spanning across every imaginable industry. The city has certainly worked out quite well for us, allowing us to recruit top technical and business talent to lead in the development our award-winning rewards technology. Thousands of other companies have been just as fortunate to live, work, and thrive in in the city of Boston. Many you may know of, others you may not.

Here are just a handful of other innovative B2B technology companies that call Boston home.

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4 ways Boston fitTech is fighting for your booty

Posted by Chad O'Connor September 6, 2012 11:00 AM

Technology has been blamed for making us more like the beings on Wall-E than healthy, active humans – but a few Boston tech startups are determined to change all that. Their “fitTech” tools connect us to the athletic community, help us find experts and offer advanced self-monitoring tools to help us get and stay healthy.

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Out in the ecosystem: Zeid Barakat, co-founder of Flyberry Capital

Posted by Jennifer Spencer August 30, 2012 09:30 AM

I recently spoke with fellow MIT Sloan entrepreneur Zeid Barakat, co-founder of Flyberry Capital, for their take on the potential of the ‘big data’ in finance. Flyberry was recently named one of two finalists in the Lion's Path Battle-Fin Tournament.

TC: Zeid, there’s a lot of talk about big data. Help us understand what it is and what the implications are?

ZB: Big data has become a pretty popular term, but its definition changes depending on who you ask. The idea is that there is an unprecedented amount of information being generated, either within companies or in the public domain. It’s been estimated that the volume of business data worldwide, across companies doubles every 1.2 years. Think of the records coming from over 1B people on the internet, and data coming from so many other sources; the twitter feeds, manufacturing data, weather patterns and medical scans, and on and on. How do companies with these large quantities of data, and make sense of this information?

Companies have struggled with these issues for a long time, but now thanks to an expanding number of tools, even smaller companies can come up with creative ways of dealing with this data. How do you store, search, or even visualize this data, and ultimately, how do you distil takeaways and map out a courses of action.
The implications are huge across multiple industries. Medical records can quickly help decode trends, crime-fighting efforts can be more targeted, manufacturers can accurately judge inventory requirements, and advertisers can target the right people.

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Big potential for Big Data in the Massachusetts economy

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 27, 2012 11:00 AM

Every day, 2.5 exabytes of data are created by computers. If that doesn’t sound like much, a little perspective: one exabyte equals one quintillion (2.5×1018) bytes of data, or the content of 250 million DVDs. The figure is mind boggling and growing exponentially. Consider: 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. There are many reasons it’s growing so fast –more sensors collecting data than ever before, the growth of social media, etc. – but all this data is creating enormous pressure on organizations to build new IT infrastructure to deal with it.

Interestingly, Massachusetts is playing a vital role in “Big Data.” We are leading the way on finding ways to help harness that data, make sense of it all, and put it to good use. In May Governor Patrick announced the Massachusetts Big Data Initiative to encourage further study in the field, and 12,000 people are employed in the sector in more than 100 companies here. Additionally, about $350 million in venture funding flowed last year into local Big Data startups. Seems like a recipe for success.

But in my view, we are falling short of what can be accomplished with Big Data.

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Exporting the Massachusetts innovation economy

Posted by Devin Cole August 22, 2012 11:38 AM

In the innovation economy, a lot can happen in 48 hours. That was proven in grand terms at this year’s BIO International Convention, held in Boston this June:

  • Massachusetts and Israel provided a combined $1.3 million in initial funding to four joint ventures developing new technologies in life sciences, clean energy, and information technology.
  • Massachusetts, Finland, Northern Ireland, and Catalonia, Spain, partners in the NIMAC initiative, supported a $300,000 grant for a multinational research study into developing non-invasive procedures to detect pre-malignant lesions.
  • Massachusetts and seven global biopharmaceutical companies contributed $1.75 million to launch the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium, focused on groundbreaking pre-clinical neuroscience research and industry-academic collaboration at Massachusetts’ academic and research institutions.
  • Massachusetts announced it would host a US-EU conference on connected health this October, the first time such a meeting has taken place outside of Washington, DC.

No wonder governments around the world look to Massachusetts as a global leader in the innovation economy.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Capital Market Exchange (CMX)

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 15, 2012 11:00 AM

[Another installment in our ongoing series with MassChallenge startups. Network with these exciting companies on the upcoming harbor cruise August 16th.]

Capital Market Exchange (CMX) has built the investment industry's first analytic product to use market perspectives to price bonds.

The size of the global stock is estimated to be close to $40 trillion. The value of assets outstanding in the global credit market is north of $90 trillion, or 2.5 times that of the stock market. Bonds are also more complex financial instruments than stocks, often necessitating more research into the unique differences. Asset managers have historically relied on rating agencies such as Standard & Poor or Moody's to assist with the valuation of bonds, often at their peril.

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AweSummit Boston: You don’t know what you don’t know

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 9, 2012 11:00 AM


Photo courtesy http://www.jessechannorris.com/


The Awesome Foundation

The Awesome Summit occurred for the very first time at the end of last month. Aside from a great name, the AweSummit is the culmination of years of work by the Awesome Foundation, which gives $1,000 micro-grants to awesome ideas once a month in each of its many chapters. Seriously awesome. Not knowing what to expect when I arrived at the MIT Media Lab, I went with some mild expectations for the talks around micro-giving, crowdsourced funding and investing, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, collaboration, branding and more. I got significantly more than I bargained for.

As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time on the Internet I can safely say I still only know a tiny fraction of the epic ideas and programs being organized online. I thought I’d share some of the ideas and companies that others may too be unaware of and interested in.

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Help a MassChallenge startup: Fantasy Politics

Posted by Devin Cole August 8, 2012 11:00 AM

[Another installment in our ongoing series with MassChallenge startups. Network with these exciting companies on the upcoming harbor cruise August 16th.]

When I tell people that I run a company called Fantasy Politics, I frequently hear the response that America's politics are already a form of fantasy politics. Unfortunately, in some ways that’s true.

Our company seeks to improve our political system by creating a more educated, informed and engaged citizenry who demand better from their politicians. Our first step in achieving that broad goal was to create an insanely addictive game. It's called Fantasy Politics and applies fantasy football dynamics to politics. The game is driven by nearly 20 political momentum metrics, ranging from polling data and campaign fundraising numbers to Klout scores and Intrade scores. It's entirely free to play.

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My secret (predictable) mobile life: What does it mean for Boston businesses?

Posted by Devin Cole August 2, 2012 11:00 AM
If your mobile phone could talk, what would it say about you?

Looking at my app usage would show that I am a loyal user of several Boston-based mobile services – shout out to LevelUp (almost ready for my reward at Channel Café), Mocospace (so many friends, so little time), Snuggle Truck (my toddler likes it) and Bank of America’s mobile app (great interface provided by Phone Valley).

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3 myths about the startup scene that are stifling entrepreneurship

Posted by Chad O'Connor August 1, 2012 11:00 AM

Okay, we all know there’s an entrepreneurship and startup frenzy going on in the country. It seems that being an entrepreneur has, once again, gone mainstream. However, many people believe or are made to believe the glamour and success of a few, like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, is indicative of what startups should strive for.

The reality is that entrepreneurs are rarely driven by glamour, fame or power. Most successful entrepreneurs I have met were compelled to start because they wanted to offer society something new, different, better or cheaper. They often experienced a deeply personal “aha” moment that convinced them to explore and pursue a real business opportunity.

Being an entrepreneur in Boston is hard, and being successful at it is even harder. Over the years I have been lucky to count on great advisors and mentors who have selflessly supported me and my ventures. However, as a participant in the local startup scene, I have heard many myths about the startup process:

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Help a MassChallenge startup: NBD Nanotechnologies

Posted by Devin Cole July 31, 2012 11:00 AM

Boston is home to some of the most exciting and cutting edge startups in the country. It is almost impossible to walk into a coffee shop in the Innovation District or Cambridge without bumping into a venture backed entrepreneur. It is what makes Greater Boston one of the greatest cities in the world for innovation. And luckily for us, a team of recent college graduates and entrepreneurs, we get to call this place home. MassChallenge, the world's largest startup accelerator, has graciously granted us office space and networking in the heart of the Innovation District of Boston.

Our startup is called NBD Nanotechnologies, and we are tackling a big problem - clean water. Water is a commodity that many of us take for granted, but will soon be a major for concern for all nations, if it isn’t already. By employing advanced surface chemistry mimicking the Namib Desert Beetle, a beetle able to survive in the African desert by fog harvesting, we can engineer designs that create water from the air. For the sake of simplicity, you can think of our product as a super efficient portable dehumidifier producing clean drinking water.

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How to find exciting startups to work for

Posted by Chad O'Connor July 25, 2012 11:00 AM

The Boston/Cambridge area is covered in startups – every time you turn around in kendall square or the seaport, it seems like you can easily bump into people working for one. As a job seeker looking to become part of the entrepreneurial scene, how do you find one of these exciting companies to join? Below are a few tips to connect with these companies:

The critical focus (and success factor) for any startup is to connect with top talent. However, this is not always as easy as one might think. Startups, by definition, lack the instant recognition associated with more established companies such as Novartis, Microsoft, or Facebook. Consequently, start-ups tend to hire through their network and also referrals that come in through their network. Forging connections with people in both the greater entrepreneurial landscape and in companies that you want to work for, will enhance your ability to successfully land a job.

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A founder’s take on the supportive and thriving Greater Boston startup community

Posted by Chad O'Connor July 23, 2012 11:00 AM

When I look back at the past 5 months since founding my startup in Cambridge, I realize the old saying about “it takes a village to raise a child” is as true to a startup, it takes a community!

It is amazing for me to look at the kaleidoscope of people, including my supportive mother and founding teammate and brother, Joe, organizations, and angel investors such as Joe Caruso and Jean Hammond who have been supportive of my educational technology startup BE, an incentivized quiz technology platform for high school and college students. BE started under the guidance of Professor Fernando Reimers at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and now operating from the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square under the guidance of New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) mentors. These three main pillars of support have opened a world of opportunity from refining the business model, to promoting BE at Microsoft, to connecting me to relevant networks and people in the educational technology space.

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Sifting the startup scene for small business tools

Posted by Devin Cole July 19, 2012 03:03 PM
Since nobody works harder than the people running small businesses, nobody stands to benefit more from the improved efficiency, reach and impact offered by new digital tools.

But – and this is a big but! – over-extended small business owners often don’t have the time to explore new products, and they don’t have the staff to whom they can delegate this task. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of some companies in the Boston startup scene that small businesses may want to be aware of.

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Think like a five-year-old

Posted by Devin Cole July 18, 2012 10:17 AM
As entrepreneurs, we often shape and re-shape our thinking as we pursue our big ideas. Each day brings new challenges that we tackle with passion, can-do attitudes, and resourceful problem solving.

But it's worth remember that, in problem solving, sometimes we need to think like a five-year-old.

Tony McCaffrey explains that, when problem solving, most of us are hampered by functional fixedness, a cognitive bias that limits our thinking. For many, we tend to think about an object only in its functional, single-purpose form. As a result, we are unable to use this object in a new way that may be required to solve a problem. According to Tony, a group that was taught to remove this mental block was able to solve twice as many problems compared to a control group. For example, when we’re able to overcome functional fixedness, we may see a wooden box used as a step rather than its intended purpose as a container. Most objects have features that can be leveraged in other ways. In this case, the box used as a step may just turn out to be the viable answer to a problem.

It has also been documented (German and Defeyter 2000) that “priming” an object by initially introducing the object in the context of its intended purpose further limits our thinking. For example, when the wooden box is initially shown with items contained, adults and older children have more difficulty seeing the box used in ways other than its intended use as a container. Interestingly, it was noted that five year old children were not limited by functional fixedness, regardless of whether the object was primed or not.

Five-year-olds were able to solve problems by applying the box, in this case, to any goal intended.

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An Ambassador's perspective: Boston knows innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor July 16, 2012 11:00 AM
Photo courtesy of British Consulate-General Boston
Sir Peter Westmacott
The Boston area is home to many of the most famous sites of America's break from Britain - the Old State House, where the royal governors sat; the Old North Church that launched Paul Revere's famous ride; the harbour where the first tea party took place; and battlefields like Bunker Hill, Lexington and Concord where the colonists first proved their fighting grit.

But visitors these days – I was there earlier this week - are more likely to find a city and a Commonwealth with much friendlier, more productive ties to the UK.

After all, the UK is the largest international employer in the Bay State: 40,000 people in Massachusetts work for British businesses. More than 250 Massachusetts companies prosper from investments in the UK. Both are home to giants in the global financial sector - Fidelity has found a home in the UK, and RBS is growing its US operations in New England (via its ownership of Citizens Bank). We even share in the business of sport: the owners of the Boston Red Sox also own the English Premier League's Liverpool FC.

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Local graduates find fertile ground and quality of life in their own backyard

Posted by Devin Cole June 27, 2012 11:40 AM
Our city is alive with a roar of innovation and, according to a recent meeting that I had with Gregory Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the State, this boom is real. Other states may claim to be a hub of innovation, but we in fact, have grown to be a global leader and plan to keep growing without just “riding the wave”, as he put it.

I’ve been attending events centered on the topic of retaining and attracting talent from The Boston Globe’s Building a Better Commonwealth series, to MassBio's quarterly Human Resource meetings.

At these events, I interviewed four people who are active and committed to retaining local graduates. Read on for their thoughts and feel the “buzz”.

Harvard iLab.jpg

Talent being retained at Harvard's iLab

By Melissa Niu

In her role at the Harvard Innovation Lab, Jodi Goldstein is responsible for all programming as well as bridging the gap between Harvard students and the entrepreneurial community. She has an impressive 20 years of experience in the Boston start-up world with a focus on innovative consumer technologies. I asked her to share what the i-lab does and to offer examples of the talent moving through the i-lab. FULL ENTRY

REEL Innovators Series with Cambridge Innovation Center's Tim Rowe

Posted by Devin Cole June 25, 2012 11:14 AM

REEL Innovators is back with Tim Rowe, the founder of Cambridge Innovation Center.

CIC has 500 of the most innovative startups in the world, literally. Tim knows his stuff. You should listen to him.

For more of the REEL Innovators Series, including interviews with Bill Warner, Debi Kleiman, Brian Halligan and more, click here!

The REEL Innovators Series is a collaboration between REEL Entrepreneurs and Boston World Partnerships. Using the medium of video, we introduce you to Boston's most innovative personalities and the businesses they've built.

Finding a Knut: Kickstarter advice from an entrepreneur

Posted by Chad O'Connor June 20, 2012 04:00 PM
Amperic
Knut
A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a Kickstarter project that was very much like an idea we had been working on at Amperic with our product, Knut, a battery powered Wi-Fi enabled sensor. Upon reading this I began to feel defensive, angry, despair, rage, sadness, envy and a whole lot of other things all at the same time. I have never experienced such a thing simply by reading a web page. Nothing had ever felt so applicable to me before. I ran into a colleague of theirs. I told him my situation and he told me the one thing that kept me going: “There is enough space in this industry for more than one product.” I decided if more than one product can exist, we will do a Kickstarter as well.

When we launched on Kickstarter, the pledge rate was high. Amazingly high. We raised about half of our requested funds in 2 days. This didn’t last though.

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BIO 2012 Is Back In Boston – International Collaboration in Life Sciences

Posted by Chad O'Connor June 13, 2012 04:00 PM


Eugena Ossi / Governor's Office


President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister speaks in September 2009 when it announced that the BIO convention is coming back to Boston.

The annual international life science convention BIO 2012 will be held this month in the Boston Exhibition & Convention Center from June 18-21. More than 15,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to attend the convention. You are probably out of luck if you are looking for a hotel room in Boston during that period …

At BIO 2012, I will be moderating a panel about international collaboration on June 19. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little about the panel and the topic.

The title of the panel is “Crossing Borders and Boundaries: Emerging Strategies to Promote International Collaboration.” This is quite a mouthful. The panelists are Bill Bullock, VP of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center; Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist of the Government of Israel; Montserrat Vendrell, CEO of the BioRegion of Catolonia; and Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. They will be discussing international collaboration in the life sciences. You will find detailed information about the panel here.

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The Web is Dead (…and what your business can do about it)

Posted by Devin Cole June 12, 2012 12:00 PM

A silent revolution has been in the making over the past decade, with its pace accelerating particularly in the past few years. In 2001 the top 10 websites accounted for 31% of total web traffic. In 2006 that figure grew to 40%. But by 2010 the top 10 websites commanded an astounding 75% of all traffic on the web. What does that mean for businesses, small and large, as they try to drive traffic to their sites? And how can businesses build an effective web presence in this changing landscape?

First of all, what happened? Much of the ascent of these web titans can be attributed to the rise of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In fact, Comscore reports that Americans are spending over eight hours per month on social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.). Twitter has grown steadily, particularly with mobile users; today over 8% of users check their Twitter feeds daily. But it is Facebook that is the mammoth that commands the lion share of social media use. Of those eight hours we spend on social networks, close to 90% of that time is spent on Facebook.

This “flight to quality” is also reflected in the rapid increase in the price online advertising of leading networks. Banner ads you might say? Not at all; their prices have fallen over 30% in the past year and will likely continue to fall. Google and Facebook are where the action is.

Remember the days of 8-cent clicks on Google? Cherish that memory- those days are long gone. Google's keyword prices have seen an increase of 11% year on year. Yet it's Facebook that stands out. Despite the recent questions about the effectiveness of its ads, average prices continue to soar, increasing over 40% year on year. Why? In part because businesses are realizing that is where people are spending time and can talk about brands.

As the cost of driving traffic to your site will continue to increase, businesses need to act quickly and strategically. Here are a few basic rules of thumb:

Go where your customers are:

Yes, Marketing 101 applies on the web too. With customers spending such a significant time on social networks, you need to be there too. Gain marketing gravity and build community now while paid online advertising still relatively nascent-- and inexpensive. Irrespective of whether your business advertises on social networks, it should utilize them to build a fan base, attract influencers and create discussions that can engage others.

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You can't drink an iPhone

Posted by Devin Cole June 11, 2012 11:21 AM

The other day my son said to me: “the iPhone has to be the most exciting technology ever invented”, and as a boring, elderly specimen of the human race, I couldn't rest until I found a counter-argument.

Do please let me know, whether you are on my side or my son's!

Generally speaking, I would argue, we take the technologies developed before we were born for granted, find those developed while we were teenagers cool, and consider those developed during ripe old age frivolous and unnecessary.

It is hard to try to imagine the thrill of technologies when they were new, but I think electricity must have been absolutely amazing. Not only could you effortlessly light your house and without smoke, but you began to have truly labor saving devices: washing machines, irons, electric stoves.

And what about running water? Not to have to carry water every day must have been so absolutely amazing, and then to have the freedom to use and waste
water: hot baths, showers, cleaning and cooking with plentiful water, and of course irrigation. It must have changed life in such a fundamental way.

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Would market-based meter pricing help in Boston?

Posted by Chad O'Connor June 5, 2012 04:00 PM

When you have a car as I do it's a constant game of rationalizations: Should I drive into the city tonight or take the T from the burbs? How bad will the traffic/construction be getting in there? What are the odds I'll find a metered spot and not have to pay more for a garage? Am I going anywhere near Fenway/The Garden on a game night when I'd have to pay even more?

The other week I was in Philadelphia for a Boston sportsgasm weekend (Celtics were at 76ers and Red Sox were at Phillies; let's say the results were mixed, to be kind). I was mortified to see parking meters going until midnight! It makes an 8 p.m. meter with more quarters per hour in recent years seem like a downright bargain. In actuality, it is a bargain. The questions then become: 1. How much less of a bargain could on-street parking be without hurting businesses? 2. What would a market-based meter system do for parking problems and congestion? and 3. Would these changes help to alleviate the "mobile truck" bans that are in place?

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So, You Have A Mobile App… Now What? The Magnificent 7 of Mobile Marketing

Posted by Devin Cole May 29, 2012 02:51 PM

Feel free to read the setup to this article in this Global Business Hub post, The What, Why, and How of Going Mobile."

Congratulations, you are now well on your way to harnessing the value of your mobile strategy. Now it’s time to share the good news about your new mobile app and entice customers and others to give it a try.

Building awareness is a process with many steps and many options. Whatever the plan, it needs to start the first day of your project. Your design choices should: allow users to easily learn about and share your app through free access to a great “starter” content, have multiple reasons to share, and provide easy ways to provide feedback.

Once the app is available, include an info link (or smartphone QR Code) in all your existing media – emails, advertising, collateral, events, etc. These links need to go to sites with authentic reviews, discussions, and feedback from peers of those investigating your app.

The best way to get that authentic conversation started is to reach out directly to your best customers to ask for their participation. Next ask your industry partners to assess the utility and business models and add their own spin. Be prepared to listen and re-think your strategy. Finally, start a dialogue with your market’s “Influencers,” journalist and Bloggers. They’ll only pay attention when they see a groundswell of interest from the groups you reached out to initially.

As you are thinking about the messages that will get your user’s attention, you can find inspiration in the Magnificent 7 of Mobile Marketing:

  1. Mobile is available anytime — all the time
  2. Mobile is personalizable exactly the way the user wants
  3. Mobile provides the perfect tool at exactly the right time
  4. Mobile is great for local information and alerts
  5. Mobile provides Instant gratification to engage or buy
  6. Mobile is customer service with 1-click-to-call
  7. Mobile can deliver more immersive media

There really are no hard and fast rules or “magic bullets” to the above. The most important thing about promotion is to get creative. And remember to be polite by always waiting for your users to opt-in.

David Cutler, at Creative Business Development, helps a wide range of clients refresh their Sales and Marketing to take advantage of the ever-evolving Web of Digital and Traditional Media. Continue the conversation about your specific questions and needs on his Blog at www.EatMedia.com

For Collaborators, Proper Alignment Keeps the Work Moving

Posted by Devin Cole May 21, 2012 12:05 PM

Most of us think we know what the word collaboration means, but we don’t. I usually oversimplify it and think of two or more people joining efforts to get something done.

collaboration photo.JPGLet’s collaborate on this deeply interesting thing over here! Or let’s join forces on this other thing that demands our attention!

Sure, people bring their own skills and talents into the mix, but the emphasis is on productivity, not the interplay and synergy that happens or doesn’t happen—or has no chance of happening—in the group.

I’m working on two different projects dedicated to exploring what effective collaboration looks like in practice and how to create the conditions for it to occur more often. The idea is that if we can work together better, maybe we can focus more energy on the creative potential of the work at hand, advancing the real possibilities that exist there rather than the interpersonal or process dynamics that so often get in the way.

I still have plenty of questions, but this is clear: collaboration is much more than two or more people working together; it’s about communicating and learning with others in order to create something you couldn’t possibly have created alone. It’s about finding a shared groove, yes, but a purposeful, synergistic, fantastically unique one.

How often do we set out with this goal in mind rather than simply think: "Let’s go work together to complete this very important task?"

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Apples vs. Oranges: Choosing the Top Banana(s)

Posted by Devin Cole May 17, 2012 03:24 PM

Innovation is alive and well in New England and it has been fueling uncommon economic growth within what I lovingly refer to as our "Massachusetts bubble" through this recession. With a national unemployment rate near 8.2%, our unemployment rate in Massachusetts is about 22% lower than the rest of the country.

This good fortune is not due simply to the brilliant ideas flowing forth from our local pool of massive brainiac power. As my friend Steve Snyder points out in his recent blog "There's more than 'I' in Innovation", the true value is only realized when the innovative idea is developed and commercialized and becomes a contributor to our economy.

The Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) celebrated game-changing companies who are making just that type of impact at their 27th Innovation Awards on Thursday. Nominees came from a stunning array of fields including mobile tech, medical device, software testing, eco-friendly product retail, technology for learning, mobile payments and painted a rich and colorful picture of New England’s innovation.

Another sign of economic health is that nominations were up 43% over last year, to a record number of 268 companies competing for ten top awards. “Usually we see a 10% increase year-over-year, so this is by far the biggest increase we’ve ever seen. It tells us that folks in New England are excited about the innovation in their own companies and in their client companies,” says Todd Faber, who has been Chairman of the Innovation awards for the last four years.

The “Agnostic Awards”

In the excitement that filled that room, one thing rang loud and clear: like any complex ecosystem, our survival depends on diversity. Nicknamed the “Agnostic Innovation Awards” by Chairman Todd Faber, unlike every other award in New England this one has never been limited to any particular industry like biotech or geared only towards the "sexy tech" niche. There are even separate categories for non-profit and early stage companies.

Scott Goodwin of Wolf and Company, an Innovation Award judge for the last 3 years, described a few of this year’s powerful group of nominees: “When you look at a company like Parcell Labs, that company can actually change people’s lives. UTEST has taken a completely different approach of ‘crowd-testing’ to software testing; Xtalic and the materials they are creating can have a significant impact across a whole range of industries.”

Sometimes the innovation lies in simply looking at the way we all do business and finding a new angle. Corporate Reimbursement Services, Inc. maximizes tax incentives and reimbursements for vehicle expenses for mobile employees through an automated platform. "Where have you been for the last 20 years?" is what CEO Gregg Darish most often hears from his new clients - and voila! - there's the market reaction to this particular innovation.

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Heading Home – An Innovative Approach from Homelessness to Self Sufficiency

Posted by Devin Cole May 16, 2012 11:56 AM

Is it possible to significantly decrease the number of homeless individuals and families?

According to Heading Home, a Greater Boston non-profit organization, it is.

Heading Home has taken an innovative approach to decreasing the number of homeless people through its shelter and transitional housing programs, which create a supported bridge toward the end goal of providing permanent housing. Its model begins with a home and offers critical services such as life skills, education, financial literacy, and job training. The model has proven to be very effective. In fact, 91 percent of the people housed through its program have remained housed.

Keiley Up & Out 035.jpgAccording to Heading Home’s Executive Director, Tom Lorello, on any given night in Greater Boston more than 7,000 people are homeless, including 3,000 children. On the family side, Heading Home sees that most situations involve a young single mother at the average age of 26 years old with 1 to 3 children. Almost half of the kids are under 6 years old and about the other half are under 10 years old. On the individual side, it is generally the disabled population with problems such as mental illness or drug use.

Board member, David Weinberg, said “Many people don’t realize that homeless individuals and families are just like everyone else and are not all street people. In many cases, the cause of homelessness is a run of bad luck or bad choices, and those that end up homeless just need assistance to get back on their feet and stay there.”

In 2001, Heading Home decided to look at an old problem differently. The organization changed its focus from emergency shelters to housing first and became a model for Greater Boston. At the forefront of this new idea was to give the homeless the opportunity to get housing first, provide support, and then let them prove to be good citizens. It became very clear to Heading Home that housing is the foundation for people to turn their lives around.

Former board member, Phill Gross, Managing Director of Adage Capital Management, said “housing first gives people mindshare, and that enables them to focus on fixing the problems they have.” If people are on the street, they are in survival mode, making it very difficult to focus on getting treatment and turn one’s life around. Believe it or not, it costs society a lot less to put homeless people in housing with support than for them to be homeless, because homeless people frequently end up in Emergency Rooms or hospitalized when on the streets.

The current public welfare system presents part of the challenge because of the loss of services for those who make above a certain amount of money. If someone makes $15 per hour, certain services such as childcare will be taken away, and it is difficult to afford childcare at that amount of pay. To provide an incentive for people to get off the public welfare system while housed, Heading Home designed a program to reward families that work toward self sufficiency with cash and housing. Its participants are given a monetary account that can be used for necessities such as purchasing a reliable car to get to work, a computer, or a down payment on a home.

Instead of lifetime public housing, program participants receive an 8-year voucher. During years 3 through 8, the financial assistance decreases. At year 5, participants receive education on home ownership. After 8 years, the payout from the escrow on their account can be used for a down payment on a home. Currently 36 out of 40 parents working 6 months or more have assets and an account open.

To assist with the transition into housing, Heading Home’s Up and Out Council furnishes and decorates the housing and provides children with items such as toys. That added touch is often an overwhelming relief for the families that are housed, as they don’t have to worry about things like not being able to afford curtains to put in the windows.

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The Reel Innovators Series with Communispace's Diane Hessan!

Posted by Devin Cole May 15, 2012 12:19 PM

Diane Hessan is a Boston superstar. She knows how to run a company, Communispace. She knows how to develop and retain talent. She tells good stories.

She is an innovator in the truest sense.

Meet her!

A few weeks ago, Reel Innovators talked to HubSpot's Brian Halligan. To get to know him, looky here!

The REEL Innovators Series is a collaboration between REEL Entrepreneurs and Boston World Partnerships. Using the medium of video, we introduce you to Boston's most innovative personalities and the businesses they've built.

Future Boston Alliance and the Business of Hipness

Posted by Devin Cole May 14, 2012 02:02 PM

Boston’s high ranking as a global innovation city and, according to one recent report, reputation as the 10th most competitive city in the world would be the pride of mayors everywhere, but Boston continues to experience its “brain drain.” Northeastern University’s World Class Cities Partnership, whose global research has focused on talent attraction and retention issues, recently hosted the pre-launch of Boston’s foremost advocate for hipness – the Future Boston Alliance (FBA). Founded by Greg Selkoe, a locally-based streetwear retailer, Selkoe and FBA director Malia Lazu described the Alliance as an opportunity for Boston and Massachusetts to seek input and guidance from an untapped core of new leaders and entrepreneurs in order for our region to compete in the 21st century. Selkoe and Lazu noted that not only does Boston need to compete in education and technology, in which it already performs quite well, but it also needs to compete in the ‘hip’ factor as featured by Michael Farrell in his recent Boston Globe article “E-retailer Hopes to Boost Hub’s Hip Factor.”

Though this hip factor may seem irrelevant to the focus of modern city policy, research shows that a city’s success rate for talent attraction and retention, the bedrock of a stable economy and the lifeblood of an entrepreneurship ecosystem, can be greatly influenced by the population’s desire to want to live and work in a creative, welcoming and fun urban environment.

Selkoe draws his knowledge from personal entrepreneurial experiences, but is also a Harvard-trained city planner and knows of what he speaks. His tenure at the Boston Redevelopment Authority shows in his awareness of the power and potential of zoning, tax incentives, citizen participation, and regulation to truly influence how the city literally shapes itself and its image, both to residents and those who are considering a move to the so-called Hub of the Universe. As a business owner who chose to start and keep his business here within the city limits, Selkoe knows that keeping and attracting workers to grow his company is not based on salary alone.

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Feeling the Kendall Square Bump n’ Grind Part II: Life Science Capital

Posted by Devin Cole May 7, 2012 12:03 PM

Read Part I Here

Big Fish Helping Little Fish

Kendall Square is home to the strongest life sciences cluster in the world, an audacious claim that is supported by the fact that the four main industry groups chose Boston for their signature events this year:

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) is an essential institutional underpinning of support for the biotech space, with offerings in many different forms. Their newest offering, MassCONNECT, is already a wildly successful mentoring program. Both the demand for mentoring and the experts capable of providing it demonstrate the deep pool of local talent and passion for the industry that is present. This depth of talent can’t be bought, transplanted or otherwise grown quickly, although other locales both within the US and internationally have poured resources into such efforts.

Hear about the exciting specifics of MassCONNECT from Sarah MacDonald, MassBio’s VP of Development & Communications:

Repurposing with Purpose

In the uber-serious world of entrepreneurial bioscience development, SEMPRUS BioSciences is an emerging medical device company. Located in a building that was once an old tire factory, Co-Founder and CEO David Lucchino recognizes the value of repurposing Kendall’s unique resources. This includes not only the buildings but also the talent pool of seasoned specialists coming out the newly acquired companies who are looking to move back to a small company culture.

Born out of the MIT 100K Entrepreneurial Competition in 2007, SEMPRUS now has over $30M in funding and made a conscious choice to remain in Kendall. “ I couldn’t get the bang for my buck anywhere else. Even though my rents were a little higher here, the aggregation of the benefits outweighed the dollar premium to be here.”

“So let’s think about it, if you tried to do what we are doing in another locale, in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or other locales you can do it, but it’s going to be a lot more difficult.” David Lucchino continues, “Getting the access to the talent, access to the ideas, access to the venture capital… you can do that in other markets but it’s going to be a lot harder to do because you don’t have the structure in place to allow that to happen so readily.”

How Topography Dictates Flow

Xconomy, the go-to news platform and event-driven engagement organization for the "exponential economy" has become an anchor here in Boston. Founded by Bob Buderi and Rebecca Zacks, the team of Xconomists connects people and ideas through localized blogs, events, conferences, and other initiatives in six cities. Boston's own Xconomy guru and Senior Vice President of Business Development, Bill Ghormley, is based in Kendall Square and provides insight into the development of the clean tech, health IT, life sciences, mobile and the diverse start up community.

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Feeling the Kendall Square Bump n’ Grind - Part I

Posted by Devin Cole May 4, 2012 03:58 PM

Intrigued by Mark O’Toole’s recent post,”An Innovation Snapshot: Three Engaging Hours in Boston’s Innovation District,” we traveled across the river to the original innovation district, Kendall Square. What was once a busy manufacturing hub filled with distilleries, soap and hosiery factories and home to 19th century entrepreneur and namesake Edward Kendall, is now the nucleus of greater Boston’s development of information technology, life sciences and energy technology.

It only took us a few seconds to feel what British Consul General Phil Budden calls “the change in the air” as we entered Kendall Square.” We made it our mission to capture the new pace of business here– the modern version of the long-lamented “daily grind” which has morphed into what we call the “Kendall bump n’ grind.” And we share it with you right here. Watch this space for Part II next week!

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends…”

According to Travis McCready, Executive Director of the Kendall Square Association, 2007 marked a turning point for America, with more of us residing in urban districts than in suburban or rural areas. What comes with the alluring potential of urban offerings –vibrant night life, lively cultural institutions, fun restaurants, cafes and clubs, reliable public transportation, and civic space – is a density of talent, companies and institutions. As one of these growing urban areas, Kendall Square has achieved the critical mass that fuels unparalleled technological innovation.

Travis likens this density and diversity to “a box of chocolates… you open it up and you don’t really know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be something good.” The best business representation of the box of chocolates metaphor is in the dense and crowded environment of the Cambridge Innovation Center, (CIC) where smart people serendipitously “bump and connect.” That collaboration creates waves of innovation, and it’s happening at an unprecedented rate right here.

Both Pixability and CoachUp.com are fast tracking start-ups, two of the 500+ companies who have called the CIC home since it opened its doors in 1999. Leaders of these two companies credit the entrepreneurial environment here for a great deal of their companies’ transformations. Pixability found a key vendor they needed while VP of Marketing Rob Ciampa was riding the CIC elevator up to his office one day. Their engaged and ever-curious compadres in the community inspired Pixability as they expanded their initial core business from customized video into an end-to-end video marketing platform.

“People in Kendall, yes, they want to know about your product but they also want to know your story, so you’re constantly pitching and getting your message honed, and the community here ends up giving you leads as well. It’s helping your product, your message, and your sales.” Rob describes his experience here.

Similarly, Jordan Fliegel, CEO of CoachUp.com, found all of this team and his initial funding partners either directly in the CIC or through the avid referral network of his fellow entrepreneurs. Jordan and his business were both born in Cambridge and he’s so doggone proud of Cambridge and what it means for his company.

Life in the Kendall Coral Reef

So what shape does this entrepreneurial community take? See it through Geoff Mamlet’s eyes here:

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Location Location Location: 3 tips for startups

Posted by Devin Cole May 3, 2012 10:29 AM
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Dougan Sherwood

Dougan Sherwood started his own company and burned through $20K of friends and family's investment. He got burnt. He now works at Cambridge Innovation Center, located at Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA.

He sees many startups in different stages and he ponders the impact that location has. His advice for startup companies is a mixture of the conventional and the more existential.

Go where you can:

  1. Recruit the talent you need
  2. Minimize hassle and free up head space
  3. Figure out who you are!

Everyone in the startup world knows that recruiting people is of prime importance and also excruciatingly hard. A startup needs a team of people whose skills complement each other. We tend to know people like us, not people with complementary skills. A startup needs people with drive and enthusiasm, an understanding of product development and the many iterations it has to go through with feedback from potential consumers, people skills, market savvy, fundraising, legal and accounting, technology and so on.

The list is very long, which is why only a very few places on the planet have produced successful startup companies. Putting it starkly, only Silicon Valley and Boston have the critical mass of people with different skills to routinely put together successful teams. But even within those cities, you want to be where you can meet people, preferably on a daily basis. In Boston, for example, you may want to be on the Red Line, because many of the young people you want to recruit do not want to drive cars and sit in traffic.

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Arts Collaborations: Greater than the sum of their parts

Posted by Chad O'Connor May 1, 2012 11:30 AM

While collaboration in the music world and performing arts is the status quo, visual artists have been lone wolves, for the most part. Famous artist teams like Christo and Jeanne Claude or Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen are the products of collaboration and marriage where one partner’s solo works became shared works through a lifetime of team work. In the business world, collaboration is a natural result of web 2.0 tools and social media technologies that are utilized to achieve the bottom line. In lean economic times, when competition is fierce and financial resources are scarce, artists will oftentimes look for ways to work together to share resources and contacts, conserve energy and maximize teamwork to achieve more than is possible by oneself. But how can artists, who are so wedded to their own personal vision, branded by the making of individual products, let go of control and cooperatively work with each other? And what is the outcome of this type of collaboration?

119 Gallery in Lowell fosters innovative cooperation between artists, musicians, dancers, performers, video artists and creative thinkers. As part of my current show, "Two Artists in Two Dimensions: Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein," the gallery recently hosted several notable artists' teams on a panel discussion on their experiences as collaborators. The panelists were Margot Stage and David Crane, Rick Breault and Elaine Wood, Tim Winn and Zehra Kahn, and Andy Moerlein and me. The moderator was Walter Wright, co-founder of 119 Gallery. The event host was Mary Ann Kearns, also a co-founder of the gallery.

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Upcoming Boston Cleanweb Hackathon Puts Energy Data to Good Use

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 26, 2012 11:30 AM

Boston is preparing for the first Boston Cleanweb Hackathon on May 4 through 6. Students, entrepreneurs, companies, developers, and innovative business people will roll up their sleeves and create new applications in one weekend for prize money and bragging rights.

juggernautco (Creative Commons)
All that energy means lots of data too...

A year ago, the term ‘cleanweb’ was coined by two cleantech entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley. It is based on the simple idea that the next wave of innovation in a cleaner energy economy is happening, and it’s coming from information technology applications that address resource constraints, whether those limits are related to energy, water or even food.

Cleanweb is about creating low cost, capital efficient web-enabled business models capitalizing on the easy access to huge amounts of data - Big Data as some like to call it - that is available and open source. It’s about leveraging those data points from millions of things that now capture them, from shipping crates to smartphones - known as the “internet of things.”

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Arts Professionals' Breakfast Shows Art Innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 25, 2012 11:30 AM

Veronique Le Melle, Executive Director at Boston Center for the Arts welcomed guests to the First Annual Arts Professionals' Breakfast featuring presentations on new technologies and cutting edge practices in the administrative side of the art world. This year's juried presenters were ArtsBoston, Boston Dance Alliance and Cambridge Community Foundation.

The keynote presenter Kara Miller, who hosts the Innovation Hub on WGBH Radio Boston, focused on where ideas come from and addressed three trends shaping our future in the era of the crowd. Through crowd sourcing, crowd funding and mobile technologies, tapping the wisdom of the crowd, telling your story and getting the word out will be an integral part of these democratizing technologies.

John Beck, Deputy Director of ArtsBoston, discussed market knowledge programs. Arts Boston launched an audience initiative which takes the data of an organization’s membership, overlays it with demographic information and outputs it back to the organization to turn research into action. It works within a city or regional community to build capacity and assist audience development by defining patron behavior. By working with cultural nonprofits in a region to share this information with each other, they create a culture of collaboration and advocacy for the arts.

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Reel Innovators: HubSpot's Brian Halligan (pt 2)

Posted by Chad O'Connor April 24, 2012 11:30 AM

Boston World Partnerships and Reel Entrepreneurs have joined forces to feature Boston's most innovative people in The Reel Innovators Series.

Over the next several months, The Real Innovators Series will follow Boston's best into their companies and into their lives to give you an inside view into how talent translates to execution and startup success.

Our first profile focuses on HubSpot co-founder Brian Halligan, as interesting a gentleman as you'll find anywhere.

Here is Part 2 (Part 1 can be found here):

REEL Innovators Series featuring Brian Halligan, CEO, HubSpot, Part 2 from REEL Entrepreneurs on Vimeo.

[Editor's Note: Part 2 was originally intended to run on Monday but was delayed by a small technical problem. Our apologies for keeping our loyal fans waiting.]

The Reel Innovators Series: Meet HubSpot's Brian Halligan!

Posted by Devin Cole April 20, 2012 12:01 PM

Boston World Partnerships and Reel Entrepreneurs have joined forces to feature Boston's most innovative people in The Reel Innovators Series.

Over the next several months, The Real Innovators Series will follow Boston's best into their companies and into their lives to give you an inside view into how talent translates to execution and startup success.

Our first profile focuses on HubSpot co-founder Brian Halligan, as interesting a gentleman as you'll find anywhere.

Here is Part 1 (Part 2 to come on Monday!):

REEL Innovators Series featuring Brian Halligan, CEO, Hubspot, Part 1 from REEL Entrepreneurs on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Part 2 is here.

Nerds Rule!

Posted by Devin Cole April 18, 2012 10:28 AM

Steve Urkel.jpgLast Tuesday night about 70 local marketing professionals got together for a “marketing hackathon” to think through how we could better promote and communicate what’s special about our region’s Innovation Economy.

Our Innovation Economy is diverse – our tech, life sciences, education, clean energy, gaming, financial services, robotics, and design sectors are thriving and innovating on some really hard problems. And, as Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki reminded us during the hack, they’re not just building innovative products but they’re also creating new-to-the-world business models that are disrupting traditional approaches.

The challenge was to find a way to communicate our unique culture and make it meaningful to students, entrepreneurs and businesses who want to move/grow here and future employees who want to stay here. Not an easy task to be sure, especially when we are prone to comparing ourselves or trying to emulate Silicon Valley, Austin or New York City.

As we shared some of the best ideas from the hack, a theme started to gel for me – Boston, we need to embrace our inner nerd.

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The top 5 issues in product development

Posted by Devin Cole April 12, 2012 03:50 PM

How does one make a successful product such as an iPad, an app, a drug, or a widget?

You might think that companies start with an idea about a product, something that seems cool or somehow promising. They then build a prototype to prove the concept – that the product can indeed be built or made. And then they make more products and sell them.

If only it were that easy!

Unfortunately, products need a lot of work before they actually sell. The expected demand may turn out to not be there; the price might be too high; the product might be clunky; or there might be regulatory hurdles Much of that work is done in product development. Because product development is underestimated, most people think that the most important part of innovation is invention – the glamorous moment where a genius thinks of something new in a flash. But in reality ideas are a dime a dozen whereas product development is the hard slog that really makes a difference.

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Regina Au

Regina Au is a consultant helping life science companies with product development. She has spent many years with pharmaceutical and biotech companies such as Genzyme Biosurgery, so she has seen product development up close for many years. She details the following 5 main issues to pay attention to. FULL ENTRY

Art as Commodity or Art as Experience?

Posted by Devin Cole April 10, 2012 05:17 PM

This week, everyone in the art world is talking about Morley Safer’s recent report on 60 Minutes about art: the hot commodity. In the wake of his search for art seems valuable enough to spend thousands and millions of dollars on, we learn of the early passing of Thomas Kinkade. Often compared to Disney or Norman Rockwell, Mr. Kinkade sold more canvases in his lifetime that any other, and he redefined high art as a mass produced object for everyone.

Along the Lighted Path - Kinkade.jpg

Along a Lighted Path, Thomas Kinkade

Art fairs, auctions and galleries have produced a veritable marketplace for hot commodities and much of the art world has become the playground of the rich, status seeking new millionaires and billionaires.

At the other end of the spectrum are those who believe art is neither a product to be sold nor a commodity to be gambled on. The artists, arts administrators and activists who define art as an experience by which one is transformed for the benefit of a community believe the only product of this type of engagement is human capital and spirit.

Thomas Kinkade produced an estimated 1000 canvases. Through the production and distribution of editioned prints and merchandise, he has placed his art work in the homes of nearly 10 million people to the tune of an estimated $100 million worth of art sales annually. The price range of editioned prints and mass produced items is from $25 to $250,000, which buys you the privilege to own machine made and sometimes hand touched work.

If he were competing with Walt Disney or Norman Rockwell, he might have been wise to realize he was competing against not one but many generations of creative output and accumulated wealth or, in other words, trying to attain something that is simply unattainable in one life.

In spite of his best intentions, he is probably more of a case study for the business world than the art world, which could not see or appreciate any new aesthetic territory, or cutting edge techniques in his work. The art world also dismissed his taste in art and his output as 'art that people could understand.’

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Innovation open to all: Citizen Schools in the Innovation District

Posted by Devin Cole March 26, 2012 11:43 AM

citizen-schools-logo.gifStartups in the Innovation District (ID) have received their fair share of coverage recently, but they're not alone as innovators. Non-profits have taken the innovation mantle and produced remarkable results.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an executive briefing for Citizen Schools at Fidelity Investments in the ID. Speakers included representatives from Fidelity and Google, middle school principals from Boston, the CEO, alumni and staff of Citizen Schools. I was impressed with what this organization is doing to develop the potential in middle school students to nurture a love of learning that will inspire them to succeed in high school, college, work, and civic life.

Citizen Schools partners with middle schools to extend the learning day for children in low-income communities. Its staff and volunteers partner with public schools to boost student achievement, help schools reach their full potential, and to re-imagine education in America. Their model is proving itself and they have expanded to 6 other states. Heavyweights such as Google, Bank of America, and Fidelity fund the organization and Citizen Schools has gained tremendous momentum through this support.

Whether you are a newcomer or from the area, there are numerous ways to volunteer and help grow these programs, including volunteer teaching in the afternoon hours, sponsoring a team, promoting leadership opportunities and more.

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Why give awards? To shine a bright light on Boston’s Innovation Stars

Posted by Devin Cole March 22, 2012 02:14 PM

trophy.jpgInnovation. We’re good at it. Like, really good. Boston’s Innovation Economy is forever expanding with incredible, creative companies, and the vibrant start-up community rivals anything that Silicon Valley might boast.

But we Bostonians have a problem: we’re too modest about our achievements. Sometimes it’s okay to shout loud and proud about our accomplishments!

Boston is home to a handful of industry-specific awards programs that give innovative companies the chance to demonstrate their accomplishments – and it’s important for our community that the people who work hard all year make themselves known at these events. Besides being fun and terrific community-builders, big awards shows (like the upcoming MITX Innovation Awards)are a great way to shine a light on the people and organizations that are creating what’s next in digital innovation. Awards programs serve to inspire others to innovate even further. And that benefits our whole community.

Awards shows exist so that companies have a chance to shout louder and prouder (and in front of an audience!) but that’s certainly not the only reason. Companies that enter get seen by some of the leading thinkers and doers in our community; they get to pitch, demo, and delight those that can help accelerate their success. Awards shows give a company’s product validation from a community of people who collectively represent hundreds of years of innovation and creativity.

Many of these folks have experienced the process of new product development in very deep ways. This kind of input can be hugely helpful to young companies and new solutions. So, they get much more than just recognition; they get new connections to potential capital sources, business partners, employees, or sales opportunities that they might not have had access to otherwise.

Do you feel like a winner? Enter a Boston awards show! Now is your time to shine.

Debi Kleiman currently serves as the President of the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, the nation's largest nonprofit trade association for digital marketing, media and internet business. Previously, she was VP of Product Marketing & Sales Operations at Communispace and spent close to 15 years as a B2C marketer for major packaged goods companies. She is a Boston World Partnerships Connector.

3 web & mobile services that have changed the way innovators travel

Posted by Devin Cole March 21, 2012 10:07 AM
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Web/mobile have changed small businesses

Two weeks ago, I went to a conference in San Francisco. In planning the trip, my business partner and I used a few well-known web/mobile services to arrange various details. Although these tools are not new to us, and all of these services are available right here in Boston, what struck me is that you really get a glimpse into their value when you use several of them together within the space of a short trip.

I run a startup, so the pressure to save money and maximize value is extra intense. These services are truly changing how we take care of the basic needs for business travel, saving us money and increasing our ability to navigate unfamiliar cities and get the most return on our spend.

For starters, we used AirBNB to book an apartment. The place we got was huge and clean and sunny, and the woman who owned it left us a bag of bagels & cream cheese on the kitchen table as a welcome. The last night we were there, the apartment wasn’t available so I booked a night at the Westin. It was 50% more expensive than the massive, sunny apartment.

For transportation, we used Uber. For a pretty small cost markup, we had immaculate Towncars picking us up within minutes of us notifying them, anywhere in San Francisco. I think the cost of taking an Uber car to the airport was actually the same as taking a taxi.

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An Innovation Snapshot: Three Engaging Hours in Boston’s Innovation District

Posted by Devin Cole March 20, 2012 12:21 PM

Several weeks ago, I decided to stay in Boston between a morning meeting and evening event rather than return to my office on the 128-corridor. Armed with a laptop, iPad and phone, I hunted out space where I could be productive.

I spent the afternoon immersed in Boston’s Innovation District and discovered the geographic convergence of groups that care about, report on and participate in Greater Boston’s innovation community. Typically, these groups now sit in the same building or even the same room and create synergies that can’t happen at the occasional event, over the phone or through social channels. Additionally, I discovered that Boston’s international business community wants to learn what Boston is building, with other countries’ representatives participating in our new scene and often contributing to it as robustly as homegrown businesses.

The Financial Company

First, I met an acquaintance who agreed to give me a tour of the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology (FCAT). This amazing space serves as museum, test lab, meeting space and showcase highlighting Fidelity’s global innovations in financial services. A wall-sized interactive map shows Fidelity’s global presence, including domestic and international offices, data center locations, call centers and more. The History Wall, a long length of hallway, showcases Fidelity milestones in a timeline from end to end. Even more impressive, a sliding digital panel brings the timeline to life through videos, images and words from Fidelity’s history and legacy of industry firsts. FCAT even offers an online Fidelity Labs with beta versions of Fidelity technology and apps for the outside world to test. Like me, you might end up most impressed with FCAT’s list of partners: organizations creating, supporting and reporting on innovation. These include Boston Interactive Media Association, Boston World Partnerships, MITX, TEDx Boston, Xconomy, Mass Technology Leadership Council and other important players.

With greater awareness of Fidelity’s history, global footprint and legacy of innovation, I made my way a few blocks east to the MassChallenge office for new adventures – and there were plenty.

MassChallenge has become more than a home to start-ups. A true center of innovation, the organization creates the ideal intersection between innovators and infrastructure to support Boston’s start-ups and innovation business culture.

The Association

First in line at MassChallenge: MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange), the business association for New England’s digital and marketing community. MITX relocated to MassChallenge last fall, its team now centrally located in the middle of the action. It’s clear the new space infuses the MITX team with energy and opportunity.

I spoke with MITX president, Debi Kleiman, about the value of the move to the Innovation District. “Being co-located with MassChallenge and the startups here has been fantastic for MITX. We are all about helping people make connections to grow their business and get inspired to innovate. This happens just because we run into each other walking around the floor or as we catch up with someone here visiting someone else. It’s the random run-ins and in-person serendipity that really powers the good stuff happening in our community. Proximity matters when it comes to supporting each other’s work.

“We’ve proven that more events where the goal is networking and information-sharing are really potent. We develop this friendliness, an ease with which we work together as a community, for example finding time to spend together over a beer. We’ve also seen an increase in smart, experienced people offering to be mentors. Most of the startup incubators/accelerators offer this, but we also have people willing to share their time with a startup in an informal way. With our MITX Up marketing mentorship program, our mentors tell us they get a ton from mentoring the startups on their marketing challenges. And the startups love it too. Any city that wants to grow its innovation ecosystem needs to consider how to build this effort in multiple avenues and offer various kinds of mentorship for young companies and entrepreneurs.”

The Entrepreneur

Seeking an empty desk to pay attention to my day job, I ran into Vsnap founder and former Boston World Partnerships (BWP) director Dave McLaughlin. His company allows people to send short, personalized video messages and attachments using nothing more than an Internet connection and camera.

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Boston's young talent getting easier access to internships and jobs

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 16, 2012 11:45 AM

As someone who teaches college students, I am reminded daily of the importance of helping them find meaningful work with internships, co-ops and jobs. I gather whatever info I can and pass the opportunities along to my current and former students. Thankfully, there are some other people in Boston who have been focusing on this critical problem too...

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are hosting a gathering of business and academic leaders on Monday March 19th to discuss the benefits and best practices of student internships. Remarks will be made by Governor Deval Patrick; Kenneth Montgomery, First VP/COO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; and Paul Guzzi, President/CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce also is offering Chamber Intern Connect to connect area employers with college students throughout the region. No matter the specific internship, industry, or paid vs. unpaid opportunity, Chamber members post summer internships to a high-traffic database as well as the Commonwealth’s statewide Mass Stay Here internship site.

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Cathryn Griffith's Boston in the world of Historic Preservation

Posted by Devin Cole March 14, 2012 11:25 AM
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Old Old City Hall

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New Old City Hall

Although not born in Boston, Cathryn Griffith has become knowledgeable about the city and appreciative of its distinct nature. With an intellectual curiosity for art, a passion for photography and a business mind for real estate, she has crafted a platform for herself as an artist and entrepreneur. Her recent book, Havana Revisited: an Architectural Heritage brings together her experiences as a lifelong traveler, her artistic eye and her careful study of architecture. In it, she ties together her own personal story with that of architecture around the world.

Historic Preservation

Unlike the plastic arts, architecture is functional and organic. Buildings are actively a part of, not merely passive observers to, the passage of time. The Boston Landmarks Commission deals with local history of the built environment. As noted on their website, Boston is one of the oldest American cities, and it ‘has long played an important role in the development of the nation.’ The buildings they seek to preserve are informed with the stories and events of the City’s residents from its founding days to the present one. Historic preservation is defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as ‘the process of identifying, protecting, and enhancing buildings, places, and objects of historical and cultural significance.’ Increasingly, this process is a dynamic one, not a static entombment or enshrinement of buildings and places.

The business of old buildings

Boston’s Old City Hall is one of the earliest examples in which municipal architects applied the principles of historic preservation to the re-evaluation of its buildings. Herein was born the concept of adaptive reuse. In the 1960's the idea that the city’s constructs from a previous era could be put to new use was without precedent. ‘The successful conversion (1969-1971) of Boston's City Hall into a restaurant and first class office building heralded the beginning of this new concept.’ The American Institute of Architects (AIA) publicly supported the process of its conversion and promoted Old City Hall as a notable example of urban renewal that could have future implications. In fact, many cities across the nation have used the rehabilitation of Old City Hall as a template for the reuse of landmark buildings in their own communities and this pioneer model of redevelopment continues to win recognition as a precedent setting approach to adaptive reuse.

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Beyond St. Patrick's Day: Massachusetts and Ireland Economic Ties

Posted by Devin Cole March 13, 2012 04:55 PM
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St. Patrick's Day, not named after me.

This weekend, I was walking through Boston as the city began its annual preparation for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The signs that this city takes its famous Irish heritage seriously were everywhere: Store windows were filled with large green top hats, Leprechauns, pots of gold(I don’t think it was real gold), and other costume apparel to mark one of the most storied holidays in Boston.

As we prepare to celebrate the cultural bonds that link Massachusetts and Ireland, there is also a great opportunity to illustrate the vibrant economic ties that connect these two regions on St. Patrick’s Day and the other 364 days of the year. The strong Massachusetts-Ireland relationship drives bilateral trade and investment. And even during these challenging economic times both economies benefit.

Boston has long been a gateway to the American dream for Irish immigrants. These strong cultural traditions developed over centuries of immigration have led to a business community that welcomes Irish companies and encourages Massachusetts organizations to use Ireland as their gateway to the European market. There was no better display of this welcome then the support that Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Kenny received in his recent visit to Boston.

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Out in the Ecosystem: Bennett Fisher of Retroficiency

Posted by Devin Cole March 12, 2012 03:59 PM

Recently, I caught up with a fellow MIT Sloan entrepreneur who chose to build his company in Boston with a local VC, Point Judith Capital, providing the funding. Bennett Fisher is the Founder and CEO of Retroficiency, a data analytics software company focused on the cleantech sector.

TC: So Bennett - what is Retroficiency focused on?

BF: We are focused on scaling commercial energy efficiency. Commercial buildings account for more than 40% of the country’s energy consumption, and there’s $40 billion dollars of annual potential savings opportunities by upgrading existing energy systems. Unfortunately, much of these savings aren’t realized due to the current costly and time-intensive manual process of evaluating efficiency measures. Energy efficiency in existing buildings is the best way to reduce consumption, but right now it’s a huge opportunity that’s not being fully realized.
Retroficiency.jpg

To address this, we’ve developed software that combines sophisticated energy analytics with rapid building modeling that helps utilities, energy service providers and building owners prioritize portfolios and identify energy conservations in minutes.

TC: What do you mean by energy analytics and building modeling?

BF: We have two core products today. One analyzes 15 minute or hourly energy consumption data (called interval data) to determine what the savings opportunities are in a building without ever visiting it. We can answer questions such as are the building’s operating systems aligned with actual occupancy hours? Is simultaneous heating and cooling occurring? Are lights being left on at all hours of the night?

To do this, we look at how a building is responding to changes in weather, humidity and other external factors and compare those results to similar buildings to determine areas of suboptimal performance and deliver very actionable recommendations.

Our second product streamlines the traditional energy auditing process. We can take a limited amount of information about a building and its energy systems, use statistical inferences to fill in the gaps, and then evaluate thousands of potential improvements in minutes to see how they will impact energy usage.

TC: It’s been about a year since you publicly launched the company. How much progress have you made?

BF: We’ve been able to build some significant momentum since launching last March and are on a great trajectory. I think the most important milestone for us has been the large enterprises that have adopted our solutions, like Jones Lang LaSalle, Schneider Electric and SAIC. That was a really important validator for our approach.

We’ve evaluated 80 million square feet of commercial space thus far, which is great, but that said there’s 80 billion square feet of space out there, so there’s a lot of work to do. We need to focus on delivering innovative products and driving adoption.

TC: Why did you choose Boston as the place to start the Retroficiency?

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How to Survive, Thrive & Make Boston Proud at SXSW

Posted by Devin Cole March 7, 2012 02:25 PM
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The author in her SXSW element!

Photo by Adam Towner

If you've never been to the famed SXSW Interactive conference before, here's what to expect: Spring Fling weekend for the startup set. It's an experiment in wholeheartedly embracing both sides of the "work hard, play hard" equation by innovators from all around the world, all of whom have converged in Austin, Texas for a 5-day marathon of meetings, intellectually stimulating sessions, comfort food, drinks, parties, more drinks, more food, and generally getting their geek on (at more parties). As you can imagine, there’s not a whole lot of sleep that happens at SXSW.

Does that get you psyched up? Good. Now here's how to survive and thrive, showing the rest of the country why they should pay attention to Boston as serious players:

Have a plan & set goals for your SXSW experience

Before heading to Austin, figure out the top three sessions you need to make during the week and the top three people (or brands) you want to connect with while you're there. (It makes the whole experience SO much more manageable, translating to roughly one mission each day.) Then, while heading between those sessions and looking out for those people, make the most of each random encounter. If you're not adding anything to a given conversation, or taking anything from it, politely move on. Most importantly, repeat after me: it's about quality, not quantity.

Local angle: Watch SteveGarfield.tv's "Road to SXSW" featuring Boston-based social media superstars (like Jeff Cutler and CC Chapman) dish on their top tips for n00bs. (Also, check out this amazing, inspiring post by Dallas fashion blogger Elissa Stern for the Texas Style Council blog.)

Don't sweat the parties

Everyone obsesses over the parties at SXSW. Did I get invited to enough parties, or the right ones? Should I party hop? How do I get invited to invite-only events? Can I still get tickets to sold-out events? Relax. It’s not high school. SXSW is about connection kismet, and you will no doubt have no shortage of awesome things to do with no shortage of awesome new people, and in a surprisingly short amount of time. As the locals say, "Wherever you are, that's where you're supposed to be." Don’t party- or session-hop just for the sake of trying to do it all, or for fear of missing out. Pick one place, stay there (at least until the group you're with decides to move on), or go have a break/coffee/nightcap/snack/longer conversation with one or two cool people you've just met. Make your own party!

Local angle: You can still RSVP for the Bostinno “SxStreetwise” party, and if you need to employ the buddy system before kicking off the training wheels, check out this directory of Bay Staters headed to SXSW.

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The Currency of Innovation

Posted by Chad O'Connor March 5, 2012 04:00 PM

Innovation—you hear about it all the time these days. It is the buzzword in the IT world. But is it really possible for so many companies to be innovative? Well, yes. A lot of people in the field think the pace of innovation is increasing. Blame it on the digital world we live in.

Please Pay Here.JPG

Steven Depolo/Creative Commons

"It costs so little to innovate now,” says David Verrill, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Business at MIT's Sloan School of Management and Co-Chair of the Innovation Showcase, part of the annual MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. “It used to be that you needed to raise tens of millions of dollars and spend a couple of years building a company. Now you can outsource development, host it in the cloud, and be up and running in a few months for a few hundred thousand dollars.”

From the innovator’s side of the coin, it’s all about passion. “You have to believe that you will change the world, that you are going to help improve society in some way,” says Jim Curtin, a veteran entrepreneur who has started several IT companies. “Believing that you can make a difference is what drives innovation.”

Curtin knows what he is talking about. He is CEO of Virtual Bridges, a desktop virtualization company based in Austin, Texas and one of ten companies selected as a finalist in the 2011 Innovation Showcase. That was an opportunity to interact with hundreds of CIOs and other potential customers who were primed to be interested in what he and the other finalists had to say.

Getting in front of the customer is a big part of the job of any innovative IT company. You’ve got to talk to customers and find out what they need, what they are thinking, and exchange ideas. The innovation comes from actually listening to what customers need, finding a solution, then delivering on that promise.

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Pitching: The first 8 words

Posted by Devin Cole February 29, 2012 01:39 PM

A few months ago, I interviewed a number of venture capitalists about public speaking as it relates to the hundreds of startup pitches they hear.

I asked, “What’s important to you in a pitch?”

There was one answer I’ll never forget. It came from David Wells of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers.

He replied, “Within the first 8 words, I’ve decided whether or not to keep listening.”

8 words.

I frowned for a second, unsure if I had heard right. Then I asked, “What are you looking for in those first 8 words?”

He replied (and I’m paraphrasing), “The core innovation. If it’s not in the first 8 words, it’s probably not there. That’s when I either stop listening or interrupt the speaker to ask.”

8 words.

In a nutshell, it’s about having a strong opening line. It’s about grabbing your audience’s attention so that they put down their iPhones and listen. Entrepreneurs need to get to the point and distinguish themselves from dozens of others promising the next game-changing idea. But the rest of us can use it every time we speak in public.

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The Innovation District – Boston’s New Hot Destination

Posted by Devin Cole February 28, 2012 02:51 PM

By Ellen Keiley, K&L Gates

Just a few years ago, the South Boston Waterfront didn’t have much to it. Fast forward to 2012 and the area is exploding with activity in what’s now known as Boston’s Innovation District – one of Boston’s hottest neighborhoods.

ID Water.jpgIt’s never been a better time for the development, as there’s a new generation of workers, and Boston wants to keep them. They walk and ride bikes to work, and they can do it all without leaving the city. Much of the development started after a 2010 mandate from Boston Mayor Tom Menino to develop 1000 acres of waterfront property as a platform of entrepreneurship focused on 3 initiatives – jobs, housing, and infrastructure.

The district was created to attract innovative people and companies and fuel economic engines for Boston. It’s a way to win the war to obtain and retain talent. The Innovation District has created 3000 new jobs and 100 companies.

MassChallenge moved to the area in 2010 and has brought a lot of excitement and innovation to the area with its mission to “Catalyze a startup renaissance.” MassChallenge is the largest start-up accelerator and competition in the world and offers 125 finalist start-up companies access to world-class mentorship and training, free office space, access to funding and media, and other perks, such as free business flights provided by American Airlines. The winners of the challenge receive $1M in cash awards and over $4 Million worth of in-kind support collectively.

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Five critical questions before out-licensing to a pharmaceutical company

Posted by Devin Cole February 27, 2012 04:37 PM

Many university scientists and start-up companies develop new drugs. But getting a drug through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval process and to market is a long, expensive and risky process. Many companies seek to share this risk by partnering or out-licensing to a larger biotechnology or pharmaceutical company.

Antony Newton worked for Genzyme from 1992 to 2011, eventually becoming Vice President of Portfolio Management in the Oncology Division, He facilitated the in-licensing process there and describes here what you have to think about in order to successfully out-license your drug to a pharmaceutical company:

  1. Have a clear value proposition
  2. Understand the culture of the company
  3. Understand the structure of decision making
  4. Develop relationships on the inside
  5. Plan for follow through

While the example of Genzyme helps us flesh out these five points, the lessons are general and apply to any pharmaceutical company.

Anthony Newton.jpg

Antony Newton

1. What is the value proposition?

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly using in-licensing and partnering to build and de-risk their development pipelines. For the out-licensing group it is important to understand the needs of the pharmaceutical company. Are they interested in particular technologies or approaches, are they looking for products at a certain stage of development? By asking these questions up front, you avoid fruitless discussions. And by knowing more, you can tailor the information presented to meet their needs.

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American companies should jump on the India wave

Posted by Devin Cole February 21, 2012 04:00 PM

India.JPGMost American small and medium companies know India as a country for off-shoring software development or call center services, and largely ignore other opportunities to do business in India or partner with Indian companies.

I am a Boston-based entrepreneur who co-founded a company that helps overseas companies expand their business into the United States. Some of the companies we help are from India.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit India and meet with their local entrepreneurs. I attended the IndiaSoft software conference in the city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra, an urban agglomeration with 5.5 million people that most Americans have never heard of (I admit that I had to look it up too …). Being in the neighborhood, I also took the opportunity to set up several meetings with entrepreneurs in Mumbai.

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Building a Better Boston: WCCP 2012 Chatham Forum [part 2]

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 13, 2012 11:46 AM

As the Chatham Forum continued, the second panel of the day (See last week's intro post) – Greg Selkoe, Vicky Wu Davis, Travis McCready, Helena Fruscio and Frederick Kramer – convened later that morning to discuss strengthening Greater Boston’s global presence. A key theme the panel kept coming back to was changing the way we think about barriers geographically. One dysfunctional example that gained many nodding heads of support was discussion of taxi pickup regulations that prevent Boston cabs from picking up in Cambridge and vice versa. Not only is it frustrating to people who live in the Boston area, but it is frustrating and bewildering to out-of–towners who will remember such anecdotal encounters.

The taxi example seemed to represent the desire of the panel to see more cooperation between the region’s cities, minimizing regulation and bureaucracy that stifles business and detracts from a positive experience in Greater Boston. Heather Fruscio neatly summarized the problem by noting that “A brand is only as good as it functions” – harkening back to the earlier panel’s praise of Barcelonactiva for integrating processes that help business permitting go smoothly. Healthy competition between cities, emphasizing real differences, is okay; unhealthy competition with a winner take all mentality will not help Greater Boston as a whole. One panelist even noted that districts within a city, sometimes blocks apart, can get into unhealthy competition that loses sight of the bigger benefit.

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Building a Better Boston: WCCP 2012 Chatham Forum [part 1]

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 10, 2012 11:45 AM

Chatham-Group-Photo3.jpgSuper Bowl weekend kicked off with a star-studded retreat focusing on Boston’s future. World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP), in collaboration with City to City Boston and Boston World Partnerships, planned the 2012 Chatham Forum for engaged Greater Boston citizens to learn, discuss, renew friendships and expand networks. To quote from WCCP Executive Director Mike Lake’s invitation, the Forum sought to update everyone about “opportunities for the Boston region in relation to innovation, entrepreneurship and adapting best practices from around the world to strengthen economic development in our region.” In addition, attendees participated in Massachusetts’ first Urban Excellence unConference with “Solution Sessions” to share ideas and projects on economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Insightful content and action opportunities were in abundance. A Friday night cocktail reception and dinner with opening keynote from Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson set the tone for an ambitious agenda. Jackson stressed the importance of getting the youth of Greater Boston civically engaged, something that starts with a strong public education system.

On Saturday morning everyone reconvened with a heart-felt montage tribute to the recently deceased former Boston Mayor Kevin White. [As a sad epilogue, Lowell Richards of Massport, a former deputy mayor to White, who was at the Chatham Forum unexpectedly died on Sunday. Condolences go out to his family and friends. He spent the better portion of his last weekend with us doing what he did best: working behind the scenes on making Greater Boston better.]

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Co-working: Is it right for your company?

Posted by Devin Cole February 9, 2012 05:12 PM
Over the past couple years, I have successfully launched two companies and there’s another one coming in a few months. One of our key partners is WorkBar, a Boston co-working space. In general, I feel very bullish about the co-working models and the value they bring to a young firm like ours. WorkBar saves us money on office space while providing everything we could ask for in terms of a productive environment.

Different co-working spaces in Boston have a different feel and tailor to different types of companies. Given we are young and have a fairly informal culture, WorkBar’s laid back environment works really well for us. Many of my friends from MIT have had success working out of the Cambridge Innovation Center. Having spent much time hanging out there as well, it has a great tech/start-up vibe.

Why has co-working been the right move for us?

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The startup gene: Boston's entrepreneurial leaders pass it along

Posted by Devin Cole February 8, 2012 02:58 PM

Lemonade Day.jpgGreater Boston is on the global map as a vibrant start up ecosystem with over 1400 companies. For this post, I framed a few questions for three leaders in the local startup scene and asked them to respond in vsnaps -- 60-second video messages, with attachments that offer additional information.

I like this format a lot because it gives you a sense of the people, in addition to what they have to say. After all, Boston's startup scene is very much a community of people, one that's welcoming to newcomers who have big ideas and the work ethic to put them into action. I've embedded their vsnaps below. But first here's some background on each of my subjects -- and the question I asked.

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Ride the Wave Into a New Creative Economy

Posted by Devin Cole February 7, 2012 09:45 AM
ocean-wave.jpgIn my last blog, I argued that the world needs more systems thinkers given the scope of problems/opportunities we face. I believe our major systems have a long way to go, and I write from that angle and set of assumptions. But having an awareness of how our systems, and therefore work habits, are changing is a critical skill for anyone in this economy, not just social change enthusiasts.

There are two ways to look toward the future of work:

  • What might the world need from us in terms of the companies we build or work we do?
  • To what degree are we prepared to navigate industries and work environments that are changing fast whether we like it or not?

Many folks have written about the shift we’re undergoing now from an Industrial age/manufacturing economy to a post-Industrial, creative economy, cross-sector collaboration, and the kind of work environments required for Gen Y-ers/Millennials to thrive. Fast Company (and Fast CoExist), Forbes, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Boston's own Root Cause are all over it. Everyone seems to be talking about how work is becoming more networked, flexible, and adaptive. But what does this larger shift to a creative economy mean for the individual? For the 20 something early in the process of building his/her career? or the mid-career professional considering a change?

Winston Churchill wisely said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” A related ethic might be something like, “If everything is changing around you, ride the wave.” There’s no use fighting it, and besides change is energizing and empowering. Here are a few ideas as to how to ride the wave into a new creative economy:

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Top 5 Factors to Weigh Before Getting a PhD

Posted by Chad O'Connor February 3, 2012 10:00 AM

Arne Hessenbruch

What are the 5 top factors to weigh before getting a PhD?

1. What doors does a PhD open for you?
The fact of the matter is, it opens mostly doors within academia. In order to get a job as a professor, you need a PhD. For most others, you don't. There are a few exceptions, such as chemistry and fields related to drug development. So if you know for certain that you want to work in academia or in, say, pharmaceuticals, then a targeted PhD is the right thing.

Also, if you are interested in an expanding field, which at the moment could be something like big data analysis or brain and cognitive sciences, then you can be reasonably certain that there will be enough openings in academia by the time you have your PhD. Of course, if you want to be in the humanities or atrophying science fields, such as space research or nuclear science, then you will end up looking at lots of closed doors.

The problem is that universities do not give you any guidance in this. They are not geared to open doors for you, except if you want to become a professor, and they do not get measured by enabling you.

2. Which skill sets will you learn?
Obviously, you will learn a lot about something esoteric. For example, if you do a PhD in the history of accounting techniques among public house owners in Boston in the 1830s, you will end up knowing more than any other person on the planet about your narrow field. But because this knowledge is unlikely to help you with anything, the question really is, what else will you learn in the process? You might for example learn how to find information that is hard to find. You might also learn how to combine different kinds of information to arrive at insights that no one had seen before.

You might further learn to summarize complex issues and to present the issues to academics, both orally and in texts. It has to be said that you are unlikely to learn how to present to the general public, and so while the training is specifically to learn how to behave within the ivory tower, it may just be useful outside too.

You will definitely learn how to juggle complex issues and how to synthesize them for a particular audience. And you will learn a form of self-discipline where the motivation has to come from within. There is no instant gratification: it can take years before you reap the fruits of your labor.

The universities can also give you no guidance on these issues before you start your degree. Neither professors nor university administrators think much about the value the students get, because they are measured by other standards, such as the number of publications they produce. They are geared towards producing knowledge that matters to professors who talk mostly to each other. Of course, even though the system is not set up to assist you in building up a skill set, you can focus on this yourself and use university resources for that purpose.

I've got a PhD!

3. How will it make you feel about yourself?
Getting a PhD will likely give you a sense of achievement and make you feel proud. This is no small matter. You can put your title next to your name and most likely it will earn you respect.

In general, you will be considered smart, and that is mostly an advantage.

Feeling good about yourself and confident has many benefits, in addition to being an end in itself. You will go into future challenges with confidence and for that reason you will also be more likely to succeed. But there is an attendant danger also: you may feel a sense of entitlement over people without PhDs, and so you might be unpleasantly surprised when others get chosen over you and you learn to use the word overqualified in order to soothe the pain. So here is something you should be prepared to juggle: be proud of a PhD while at the same time acknowledging that it may not open doors.

4. Will you have fun?
This was certainly the first thing that came to my mind when I weighed the option of a PhD. And it is of course of major importance.

You absolutely have to find the object of your studies interesting, because the gratification is very delayed. Life in the lab can be tedious and boring, unless you endow your activities with meaning. You have to feel that it matters, that you play with cool tools, that you contribute to the betterment of humanity in some way, or that you discover some measure of Truth, however small. If you want to become a professor you have to enjoy the kind of life that professors lead. And if you end up needing a job outside academia that your PhD doesn't necessarily prepare you well for, then you will at least want to have had fun!

5. What is the cost?
Ultimately, you will want to try some kind of cost-benefit analysis. A PhD takes a long time, and it costs fees and living expenses.

Unless you get grants to assist with this, it will add up. In addition, you will spend many years not making a living and not learning other important skills. I think most people wing it: they go into an academic field because they are enamoured with it, and maybe also because it continues the life they led as an undergrad - it avoids having to go out and find a job. They think about the fun and maybe also about the status.


Of course, there is much to be said for simply following your passions. But since so many PhDs nowadays lead to a perceived dead end, it is a good idea to consider the above five issues before it is too late.


Arne Hessenbruch is a Danish expat and the founder of Boston Denmark Partnerships, where he connects Danish companies with an interest in doing business in Boston.

5 Things You Didn't Know About the Internet Business in Boston

Posted by Devin Cole January 20, 2012 10:37 AM

Debi_Kleiman-Headshot-with_credit.jpgWith the holidays behind us, economy watchers are waiting for the numbers to signal consumer confidence and spending is back. Early signs seem to indicate it is. According to ComScore, Cyber Monday lived up to its name in 2011 as the Monday after Thanksgiving racked up $1.25 billion in online retail sales, the biggest day in the history of US e-retailing. Nine other days topped $1 Billion during the 2011 holiday season. ComScore also reported e-commerce sales for the period from Nov 1 through Dec 25 increasing by 15 percent over the corresponding days the year earlier.

E-commerce and its super hip sister m-commerce is growing by leaps and bounds. Why? Because better technology is making the process and user experience easier, consumers trust and enjoy the internet more and it's become ridiculously convenient. Content strategy, video, analytics and social media are revolutionizing the way people shop. And the most exciting part is, we've only just begun.

During our weeklong festival last September, FutureM, all about the future of Marketing, it became clear that we are seeing a surge in local innovative and successful e-commerce plays. Everything from new business models, advancements in the mobile and cross channel markets and tech companies that build platforms to help companies to sell and promote their wares online. But I'd bet most Bostonians don't even realize how much is going on right in our backyard.

So here are five things to know about our Internet business community, listen up:

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The Future (and Present) of Work Is All About Systems

Posted by Devin Cole January 19, 2012 12:07 PM
Systems Thinking.JPG

Image by Ben Rose

In my last blog "Forays into the Future of Work," I ask, "What skills and qualities will serve us in the future?" and offer the idea that the world needs connectors. It’s a simple enough idea to grasp, but it’s worth exploring because it can easily get lost in our day-to-day routines.

I say the world needs connectors because indeed systems and systems thinking are key to meaningful, lasting change. Whether we’re talking about what the future of work holds for us and our organizations, or the ever-so-tricky social and economic challenges so many of us are facing currently, becoming aware of the systems we find ourselves in is crucial. And if we’re going to adapt to a fast-changing world and build new kinds of companies designed to thrive in a new kind of sustainable economy, then systems thinking is a skill all of us need to wrap our heads around, embrace, and let change us.

We must bring systems thinking out of the university, tech world, and think tanks, and into our workplaces and communities.

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Millennials: We are not slackers!

Posted by Devin Cole January 12, 2012 05:16 PM
Elizabeth Turnbull.jpg

Left to right: Elizabeth Turnbull, Doug Noonan and Paulina Orkisz

Every new generation leaves its mark on the world, reshaping not just culture and politics, but also business and the economy. Nowhere is this more evident than with today’s so-called Generation Y, who is having a profound effect on the way American companies think about energy and the environment as we begin to ascend the corporate ladder.

Also called Millennials, the cohort was born between the late 1970s and the late 1990s (the exact age bracket is often debated). As a group, Millennials tend to be liberal, confident, tolerant, non-conformist and prone to activism. We are famous for changing the rules to fit our needs. We innately believe that our opinion is important, and are enthusiastically vocal about it.

This does not mean we are slackers. To the contrary, Generation Y wants to work for causes in which we believe, and we like to achieve results. As Gen Y career paths begin to unfold, these passions are having a growing impact on what we expect from our workplace and professional culture.

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6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2012

Posted by Devin Cole January 10, 2012 10:45 AM

Digital Marketing.JPGThe fast-evolving world of digital marketing has undergone profound changes over the past year. 2012 will offer us some even more interesting developments.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Content will trump craftiness

Google
’s recent (and arguably overdue) change to its search algorithm, or how it ranks sites, was the game-changer of 2011. Google’s older algorithm gave less weight to how frequently a company was being discussed on social platforms like Twitter and more to relevance. On the one hand, expect to see more results to be linked to timely and social relevance and less to esoteric tinkering. On the other, as its product offering becomes arguably more robust, expect a bit of backlash over Google’s keyword and site promotion offerings (have you noticed how those sponsored sites are slowly taking over the results page?). The burden of authentic, timely and relevant content on the part of companies will become ever more important.

Influencer Management: A new kind of celebrity is born

Marketing 101 teaches business students the virtues of segmentation. Today, when we think of celebrity endorsement it is the Kardashian call to Sears that comes to mind. Increasingly, however, it is specific community experts that are becoming the true celebrities that influence consumer decisions. Companies like Klout now assign “influence” scores to web users, allowing marketers insight into who might be most likely to talk about their brand. With a few Las Vegas casinos already offering upgrades to guests with high Klout scores, expect to see more companies giving special perks (pricing, gifts or unique information) to those they consider most likely to influence others. Powerful platforms by firms like Youcast are emerging to allow marketers to identify the top influencers specific to a company’s audience. Expect companies in 2012 to focus marketing on those customers most likely to be influencers or brand ambassadors.

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2012: The Year of the Baby Step

Posted by Devin Cole January 9, 2012 03:11 PM
Child walking.jpg

Sean Dreilinger/durak.org

There are some big predictions out there. The Economist is expecting the mechanisms of cancer to be understood in 2012, for example. But my crystal ball reveals only piecemeal changes. Nonetheless, these changes are part of longer term trends that will make the world look different in 10 years time.

Ever since radiotherapy was invented a century ago, the history of cancer has been replete with predictions of its imminent demise, and one joins the chorus at one's peril. But the immense increase in biological information that we are now gathering will lead somewhere. For example, metabolomics allows us to match biomarkers to particular goings-on in the body. Companies such as InfanDx are leading into the fray. This German company has the technology to diagnose brain damage caused to some babies at birth due to a lack of oxygen. They use an ordinary blood sample to find a particular set of bio-markers, the presence of which correlate well with encephalopathy caused by neonatal asphyxia. Such diagnostic use of bio-markers will increase drastically in 2012.

The Boston startup world is all agog with mobile opportunities. Something will come of this, but what?

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Forays into the Future of Work

Posted by Devin Cole January 6, 2012 12:00 PM

Schroeder.Alexis.Headshot2.JPGOver on the New Prosperity blog in December, I had the privilege of posting a piece by fellow Bostonian Nathan Rothstein on what he hopes for the future of education. Nathan reflects on the importance of financial literacy, civics education, and service for recent grads. Too many young people come out of high school and college knowing next to nothing about finance or how elections work, he says, and too many could care less about politics. This at a time when the promises of an expensive college education no longer hold true, and when the world needs young people more than ever.

With so many of our major cultural institutions changing at what feels like the speed of light, Nathan thinks our educational institutions could change quicker. I couldn’t agree more, but of course change takes time. We have to talk about things first and gather collective support around new possibilities. We have to admit when things aren’t working and take some risks.

While many of my friends and colleagues are spending time in organizations/startups working toward creating new futures in education (The 100K ArtScience Prize, Boxxout Enterprises, University of Venus)—or challenging/re-imagining the entire concept of education (Kaos Pilots, Swaraj University), I find myself wondering about the future of work. Erica Dhawan and I are thinking a lot about the attitude and skills Gen Y-ers and millennials (especially young women) need to create meaningful, rewarding careers in a changing world of work and money, as people seek to live as much as in the real world as they do behind their computer screens, and as social responsibility becomes more of a given rather than a side consideration.

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Print Lives and 10 Other Content Marketing Trends for 2012

Posted by Devin Cole January 5, 2012 11:30 AM

Mark O'Toole.jpgAfter the holidays, the intrepid among us look at the remains of our respective feasts and see opportunity. That turkey bone can flavor a soup. Those leftover veggies would taste great in a stew. That untouched pie should be sent to a shelter.

Making the most of the feast, during and after the meal, is smart, sensible and doable.
Companies and organizations can similarly extend the life of their feast. Companies are realizing the power of creating and sharing "unedited" messages through channels that more directly reach their consumers. Content marketing is having a renaissance, in large part due to Boston-area companies and thought leaders who have revived it as a vibrant part of building a brand and communicating corporate stories.

Those who eat from the content marketing plate should pay attention to the following trends in 2012:

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Sustainability, Subsidies and Regionalism in the Energy Market

Posted by Devin Cole December 30, 2011 02:45 PM

Hessenbruch.Arne__.Headshot_1_.jpegThe recently released film "Iron Lady" features Margaret Thatcher's acceptance speech upon first becoming prime minister, quoting Francis of Assisi: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope."

In the 1980s and 1990s, Thatcher's political opponents used this speech as a voiceover with footage showing the violence her politics wrought, such as clashes between British police and coal miners. The point was of course to argue that she brought discord, doubt and despair to the many mining communities whose livelihood was wiped out. But from her perspective, British coal mining simply was not viable without subsidies, and the subsidies were wasting tax payers' money.

Change is always resisted, the more so of course when livelihoods are at stake. US coal fired power plants are being retired to understandable howls of protest in coal rich West Virginia. US energy politics is understandably not only partisan but also a patchwork of regions. Sustainability makes sense in New England but is almost a dirty word in West Virginia or Texas. Representatives of the carbon based energy industry disapprove of government subsidies for renewables and supporters of renewables point to the much higher and systemic subsidies for coal, oil and gas.

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The top 6 in Boston mobile in 2011

Posted by Devin Cole December 27, 2011 01:37 PM

Chan.Ted.BW.jpg

It’s been an exciting year in the Boston mobile ecosystem. Between M&A, continued growth of significant Boston industry players, and a bevy of new venture-backed startups, we’ve seen progress at a head-spinning pace. These are one man’s thoughts, but I’ll certainly be curious to hear what others think in the comments section.

Without further ado, here are six key developments in the Boston mobile industry:

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What are they saying about us? Social Sphere on Boston's global reputation

Posted by Devin Cole December 19, 2011 04:42 PM

Last week, Boston World Partnerships invited John Della Volpe, Co-founder and Managing Director of SocialSphere, an insight-based strategy company, to present to a group of Greater Boston’s civic and business leaders about how the world perceives Boston.

This project was a direct result of feeling frustrated in countless conversations with other business and civic leaders about how we can promote Boston’s assets better to the world and generate economic growth. In order to better promote the city, we needed hard data on the global perception of Boston’s talent and resources.

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Marketing a Startup: A Conversation with David Hood

Posted by Devin Cole December 5, 2011 10:00 AM

For those who love the startup life, one of the best parts about working in that environment is the fact that there are no silos. All the business groups interact and collaborate. Everyone wears a lot of hats. With customers to serve and limited resources, that’s the only way to make sure the company is nimble and can respond as needed to market conditions.

David Hood is Director of Marketing at Kyruus Inc., a Boston-based big data company offering analytics driven solutions for health care delivery and life sciences companies. Over the past several years, he has worked at a number of startups in Boston and San Francisco. He made the move to Kyruus earlier this year because of the exceptional team at the company and the opportunity to significantly disrupt the healthcare industry. David shares his thoughts with Manya Chylinski about marketing, working at a startup, and Boston’s healthcare landscape.

What is the competition like in your space?

There are a lot of consulting and legal companies offering solutions, particularly in the space we’re in right now, looking at interactions between healthcare providers and the industry but not a lot of software solutions. I think that speaks to the fact that data has traditionally been hard to access and that these firms typically take a whole bunch of smart people, have them do their own research and come back with a report. What we’re seeing is that with the data we’ve brought together on our platform, it’s possible to do that in a far more systematic way than what has traditionally been done.

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Fuel to the Innovation Fire

Posted by Devin Cole December 1, 2011 04:02 PM

Patent law matters for innovation. Abraham Lincoln famously said that "the Patent System adds the fuel of interest to the fire of genius." The US Constitution states that "Congress shall have power ... to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." But what is the best way to promote such progress?

Michael Meurer.jpgPhoto: Professor Michael Meurer, Professor of Law, Boston University

Michael Meurer, a law professor at Boston University, thinks that intellectual property law ought to provide proper boundaries the way that real estate does.

If you don't know where your property ends and where your neighbor's begins, you might plant flowers and get sued for it. Good fences make good neighbors.

Patent law provides no such clarity.

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Boston Apartment Boom

Posted by Devin Cole November 30, 2011 11:04 AM

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Due to Boston's employment and educational machines, Boston appears to have reserved a spot in the upper tier of the nation's real estate market. The high tech companies, the universities, hospitals, and bio med corporations are magnets for the nation's best and brightest minds. Considering the future peaks and valleys that residential and commercial real estate will face, Boston is situated well to attract talented workers during the next few years.

There appears to be a voracious need for apartments in Boston. A 50,000-square-foot property located at Downtown Crossing is being converted into apartments by The Hamilton Co., an Allston real estate company. "New hires need a place to stay. So the rental market price is up 19% from the last twelve-month period in a recent report I did for one customer..." states Stephen Marcus of Stephen Marcus Realty in Quincy.

City planners have created an evolving economic environment that supports businesses, which hire workers attracted to the Greater Boston area's many resources. In addition, Boston has over 20 diverse neighborhoods that provide a multitude of choices for recreation and professional development. The result has been a relatively healthy housing market compared to other cities in the U.S. Real estate is micro-local and the new construction that is occurring in South Boston, Dudley Square, the Fenway, and Downtown Crossing are emblematic of an exciting new era in the City of Boston.

Lennox Chase is an attorney that sits on the board of directors for Needham Bank. Attorney Chase is also the founder of MyBarPrep, a tutoring company for lawyers and law school students.

Citizen 2.0: How the internet has changed citizen/government interaction

Posted by Devin Cole November 28, 2011 01:55 PM

Excerpted from Citizen 2.0, a paper by Swissnex and Red Cut.

The internet has changed the way information is relayed and how people use it. We
have gone from an era of broadcast dominated by passive reception to an era of
digital natives, where communication is interactive and instantaneous. This new
generation has grown up with the Internet and expects continuous participation.

This evolution towards new communication patterns provided governments with an opportunity to function in a more innovative, engaging and cost-effective manner. In recent years, many businesses have integrated tools such as Facebook and Twitter in their marketing efforts to reach customers more directly. In a government context, such tools can be similarly used to engage with citizens with the goals of collecting their feedback and ideas, making them aware of public services at their disposal and reaching out to broader audiences through non-traditional channels.

Social media have also returned power to citizens. By providing inexpensive and widely-available tools that make it easier to organize and voice challenge, new technologies photo copy_tcm3-29064.pnghave contributed to empower citizens while improving governments’ responsiveness and accountability. A new citizen is emerging.

The City of Boston, for instance, recently launched a series of initiatives to engage with its citizens, such as the Citizens Connect App.

The convergence of these trends has generated a number of innovations, from ideation to agenda setting, from branding to crowdsourcing. There are any number of examples.

One example from Massachusetts is called Localocracy.

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Who's Bigger than Coca-Cola? One Boston mobile company!

Posted by Devin Cole November 21, 2011 11:45 AM

A Boston start-up company, Jana, has access to 2.1 billion consumers, via their cell phones. That is probably more than any other company in the world, including the large global retail companies such as Coca-Cola or P&G. And Jana is growing and hiring in order to build a solid business on this remarkable fact.

Jana has the technical capability to give minutes to these 2.1 billion owners of cell phones. In many parts of the world cell phone minutes are as good as cash, in some ways even better, because minutes can be transferred with greater ease.

Nathan Eagle, CEO of Jana

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Let us just pause for a minute, and consider this fact. A Boston start-up company has the business model and the technical wherewithal to send money to a significant fraction of the world's population, mostly in the developing world. For 60 years or so, money has flowed, in the form of aid, to the developing world, where it has failed to achieve much, largely because it ended up in the pockets of a few and never helped the population as a whole. Gatekeepers kept it to themselves, and aid organizations had no way of bypassing them.

So how can you have money flow to a large fraction of this planet's population without it being pocketed on the way? And where could this money come from?

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The What, Why, and How of Going Mobile

Posted by Devin Cole November 9, 2011 03:27 PM

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Summary: A Mobile Sales and Marketing plan is inevitable because your prospects are as addicted to their phones as you are.

Here is some inspiration and direction to take advantage of the unique opportunities of making Mobile an extension of your existing programs and a new way to attract more customers and provide ongoing, automated value. Also find a free and easy mobile project you can do today.

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Diplomacy meets Science in Boston

Posted by Devin Cole November 8, 2011 05:28 PM

Nations have long relied on scientific achievement as a powerful tool with which to build prestige. From France’s unveiling of the Eiffel Tower at the 1889 World Expo to the USSR’s launch of Sputnik in 1957, from the German autobahn to the Japanese bullet train, nations have signaled their dynamism to foreign publics with symbols of scientific prowess.

Along with cultural riches, educational and athletic achievements, and strong values, advancements in science are one of the most widely accepted signifiers of “soft power.” In today’s globalized world, smaller yet highly developed nations are turning to “science diplomacy” as a tactic of choice.

The case of Switzerland

Switzerland is currently among the most aggressive nations in leveraging science, education, and “entrepreneurial spirit” as instruments of public diplomacy. And it is not coincidental that the country chose the Boston area to establish the world’s first dedicated science consulate in 2000, known today as “swissnex Boston.”

Since then, Switzerland’s network of Science and Technology outposts has rapidly grown, with swissnex offices added in San Francisco, Singapore, Shanghai, and Bangalore; adding to the traditional science attachés in major Swiss Embassies around the World.

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Royalty and Healthcare IT: A prince comes to Boston

Posted by Devin Cole October 31, 2011 09:30 AM

The Crown Prince of Denmark was in town on October 20th, giving a keynote speech at the Connect Health Symposium at Park Plaza Hotel. He mentioned that Denmark spends about half of what the US does on health care, while the living standard there is slightly higher than here. He hinted that a part of this was due to excellent IT in the Danish health system, and, by the way, representatives of these companies are at the conference today.

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His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, addressing the Connect Health Symposium in Boston, October 20, 2011

Royalty brings pixie dust. The audience quieted down in expectation of the Prince's arrival, and the room was full. Could as much bang have been gotten from Danish tax payers bucks, had he been an elected official? The Prince and his entourage swooshed in quietly looking sleek and modern, with tailored suits, white shirts and black shoes – rather like a Danish wind turbine. No frills, no ties, no color.

Yesterday, a different Danish delegation was in town. The Danish government is worried about economic growth. Small Danish startup companies fail to grow big. Looking to the US, they notice that only Silicon Valley and Boston produce startup companies that grow. Even the Research Triangle has a poor track record. What are the Valley and Boston doing right?

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The Talent Zone: Vertex, The Innovation District and Boston

Posted by Devin Cole October 26, 2011 11:45 AM

The Innovation District in Boston is new and growing. Mayor Menino has supported its development to add to the world class medical and technology culture already prevalent in the Boston area. The arts, non-profits, green technology, restaurants, residential and start-ups are also calling the waterfront their home.
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It is exciting to know that companies in Boston are thriving, retaining talent, tapping into our diverse college and university pool and expanding to budding neighborhoods like the Innovation District.

Lisa Anderson, Senior Director of Strategy Staffing for Vertex Pharmaceuticals and I recently talked about the changes in expansion and relocation the corporate headquarters is going through.

How many new candidates will you be hiring and where are you looking?

We have this past year, hired our first sales force and launched our first drug approved this past May. It’s been an exciting time here at Vertex. We have over 100 openings currently on our website and we have over 1300 employees in MA alone. Boston is a diverse, exciting place to live and work, with lots of different neighborhoods and cultures. With a large number of colleges and universities in a small area, we are able to find local talent with Bachelors and Master degrees on up to PhD and MD degrees. Although we are a scientifically based company we also hire folks with accounting, finance, IS/IT, marketing and market research, legal and HR backgrounds. Over the last 18 months, we have relocated 110 people to Vertex from all around the US and overseas. The majority of these relocating employees (62%) came from NJ, PA, CA, NY and CT.

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A Steamy Situation: Biogen Idec and the Cambridge Steam System

Posted by Devin Cole October 20, 2011 05:17 PM

In 2003, Biogen Idec were faced with a difficult decision for their Kendall Square campus in Cambridge – lying between Broadway, Galileo Galilei Way, Binney Street, and the pedestrian walkway in extension of Sixth Street. They needed a reliable supply of steam for their batch production, and their supplier, Cambridge Steam System, was using boilers in excess of 40 years old at the Kendall Plant, is visible from the Red Line crossing the Bridge, next to Broad Canal. What's more, they didn't have the capital to modernize - . Having lost a batch due to unreliable steam supply, and having negotiated unsatisfactorily for 18 months, Biogen Idec decided to look into other avenues, including running their own supply.

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A mixed approach of head and heart from academia retains young talent

Posted by Devin Cole October 18, 2011 10:11 AM

OConnor.Chad_.Headshot_.Final_.jpegSince Building A Better Commonwealth most recently has been dealing with the pressing issue of talent retention in Massachusetts, I have found myself asking what more can those of us in academia do to encourage the young engines of the economy to stay here beyond their college years? While those of us in the know can tout the merits of Massachusetts's, and especially Greater Boston's, economic diversity and relative health compared to other parts of the nation, the message does not seem to resonate as we think it should.

My good friend and colleague at Northeastern University's World Class Cities Partnership, Mike Lake, did a great job of highlighting some of this problem in a previous piece for this blog, but I want to focus more squarely on academia's role.

As a communication professional I diagnose the lack of resonance as a failure to bring emotion into the argument; to rely solely on logic in making the case to stay in Massachusetts will not achieve the same success as more emotional tactics can. But how can the universities and colleges help in this case?

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Entrepreneurs in Action: Candice, shoes in a bag and meet Brian and Trevor!

Posted by Devin Cole October 17, 2011 10:42 AM

Candice Cabe tells us how she came to make her famous shoes and here come the lads from Pure Pest Management, Brian and Trevor!

Please excuse the tough cuts between 8 and 9. Sometimes the product isn't perfect and, as all entrepreneurs know, you can't let perfect be the enemy of good!

Episode One, Cut 8 from REEL College Ventures on Vimeo.

Episode One, Cut 9 from REEL College Ventures on Vimeo.

Episode One, Cut 10 from REEL College Ventures on Vimeo.

Want to keep talent here in Boston? Bring heart into business!

Posted by Devin Cole October 12, 2011 12:22 PM

Mike Lake.jpgMassachusetts, with more than one hundred colleges and universities, has the privilege and responsibility of welcoming students from all over the country and the world to our community. As the intellectual hub of America, the Commonwealth excels in attracting incredible talent.

The question remains, though, of how can we integrate students into our community more effectively so that, upon graduation, they are equipped with the network and skills to secure high-quality jobs right here in Massachusetts.

In order for Massachusetts to remain a powerful talent-based economy, it is essential that we be more creative in how we engage our students during their college years. Students now entering college are part of the most socially conscious generation that America has seen in decades. They measure their success by the impact they have in their community now and will ultimately have throughout their careers. Tapping into this widespread social consciousness is the key to bettering our Commonwealth by providing these graduates with job opportunities that acknowledge and cultivate their drive for social impact.

Each of the speakers at the Building a Better Commonwealth: New Rules for Leading Talent forum on September 29th offered solutions as to how those tasked with managing young, capable workers could best leverage the skills they possess.

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Entrepreneurs in Action: Candice struts her stuff!

Posted by Devin Cole October 7, 2011 11:55 AM

Reel College Ventures followed three startups through all of their trials and tribulations and made a show out of it. You've seen the first 4 clips. Now we bring you Candice's story.

Candice Cabe is an innovator in the fashion world. Here she is showing it!

Episode One, Cut 5 from REEL College Ventures on Vimeo.

Episode One, Cut 6 from REEL College Ventures on Vimeo.

Episode One, Cut 7 from REEL College Ventures on Vimeo.

The Economics of Social Capital: Common goals, transformative ideas and yield significant social value

Posted by Devin Cole October 6, 2011 02:56 PM

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In today’s global economy, businesses in knowledge and innovation sectors must provide more than efficient transportation for people and products. Their infrastructure must also support the flow of transformative ideas. Economies with rich human capital thrive when fostered by a robust and cooperative social framework.

Sociologists call this social capital, or the intrinsic worth of social networks and their potential to bring about action.

Social capital places high value on the collaboration between entities working towards a common goal. It stands for solidarity among like-minded groups and underpins the sense of mutual trust that is critical to any healthy business relationship. The hallmark of effective social capital in business is when the open and equal exchange of ideas yields significant value for companies.

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Want to keep talent here in Boston? Give them a job.

Posted by Devin Cole October 4, 2011 12:10 PM

I play on a summer Ultimate Frisbee team. Mostly, it’s made up of Tufts Alumni who played Ultimate as undergrads. Each year, we get some young blood joining the team from the graduating class. This year, I noticed that we had no new recruits. When I asked our team captain why, he told me that the seniors this year had such a hard time finding jobs in Boston, that they either moved wherever they could find work or, mostly, they moved back home to live for free, due to a lack of employment.

Little known secret: There are lots of great jobs in Boston that need filling.

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Does Wind Power Pay Off? Malcolm Brown and the Hull Experiment

Posted by Devin Cole September 28, 2011 09:00 AM

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Malcolm Brown is a retired classics professor who, as a member of the Municipal Light Board, was instrumental in bringing the first wind turbine to US eastern seaboard: in Hull, Massachusetts. The 0.66MW Vestas turbine was installed in December of 2001, and Brown regularly updates the total number of kWh produced since then on the Hull Wind website.

The most recent number is 15,173,260 kWhs. It is tempting to do a back of the envelope cost-benefit calculation for the 10 year old turbine. Hull is one of 40 Massachusetts towns that have a municipally owned electrical utility, and the yield from the turbine replaces the need to buy electricity from the grid, which in 2005 was 8cents per kWh. In other words, Hull's first wind turbine has saved the town in the order of 15 million times 8 cents: $1.2m.

How does this compare against the cost of the turbine?

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A Conversation with Jamie Watt of Exoprise Systems, Inc.

Posted by Devin Cole September 22, 2011 04:56 PM

The field of business-to-business (B2B) marketing has evolved over the past several years to really embrace new media. Customers consume information in so many different ways now that marketing must be much more strategic than it was in the past. For a long time in the B2B space, marketing meant outbound messaging—marketers created toolkits and messages to push out to customers and prospects. That is still part of the process, of course, but the field is much broader today. The impact of marketing on the business is increasingly measurable and marketers are tasked with delivering value every step of the way.

Jamie Watt is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Exoprise Systems, Inc., a Waltham-based company that helps businesses determine what applications they can migrate to cloud-based alternatives, then helps them manage the process. He has been in the technology and B2B space for over 15 years and recently joined this start-up company. Jamie appreciates both the creative and strategic sides of marketing and can be found on Twitter @jamie_watt. He shares his thoughts with Manya Chylinski about B2B marketing, marketing for a start-up, and the future of the field.

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Learning from Failure: How a Dane in Boston Got It Right the Second Time Around

Posted by Devin Cole September 9, 2011 10:08 AM

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Palle Pedersen is a Danish serial IT entrepreneur who has lived in Boston for 20 years, where he has been part of starting on average one company per year. He has a good sense of what can go right and wrong, and he has seen some of Boston's strengths up close.

Palle has been involved in failures as well as sucesses, which is of course very instructive. Failures have many causes but here is one spectacular cause.

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Sex, Bacon and the Next Big Thing

Posted by Devin Cole September 8, 2011 09:22 AM

An older man, near the end of his life, once shared with me that, if given the chance, the only thing he would have done differently would be to have “had more sex and more bacon.”

Hmmm. His wisdom struck a deep chord. And guess, what? My friends strongly agree.

Let us have a brief moment of silence for all the times we have passed up the “bacon” for various reasons (fat/calories/headache) and realized later that we would have been happier if we had chosen differently.

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Hello World, Welcome to Global Business Hub!

Posted by Joe Allen-Black September 7, 2011 02:38 PM

Welcome to Global Business Hub!

We're very happy to join Boston.com and provide you with the very best business news, powered by Boston World Partnerships Connectors.

Keep an eye on this space if you like to know what Boston companies are up to, how Boston connects with the world and how Boston's best and brightest are innovating in ways that will impact all of us for the next 100 years.

We intend for Global Business Hub to be an interactive space, so please tell us what you think in the comments, on Twitter and on Facebook.

ABOUT GLOBAL BUSINESS HUB
Boston World Partnerships' expert "Connectors" discuss business strategy, entrepreneurship, Boston's place in the world economy, and much more. Using their insider perspective, they illuminate how Boston's innovative companies start, grow, scale, and go global.

Meet Boston's coolest, smartest and most dynamic founders in our REEL Innovators video series!

Introducing...

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.
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