Every Friday, I post a list of five things here, and invite you to build on the list by adding more in the comment section.
This Friday, it's the coolest, most innovative companies in the Boston area.
How was this list created? Last month, at a planning meeting for the new Innovation Open House series, we put a list of 40 or more companies on a whiteboard. (Innovation Open Houses enable a small set of students to get a "backstage pass" to interesting local businesses.) Then, a group of about 25 entrepreneurs, investors, marketing execs, students and trade association heads voted on which ones would be the coolest for students to visit.
These were the top five vote getters (along with a few of the runner-ups.) The list is an interesting mix of home-grown companies and branch offices of out-of-town firms.
1. iRobot Corp. Burlington-based maker of military, industrial, and consumer robots.
2. Harmonix Music Systems. Developer of music-oriented videogames like "Rock Band." Based in Central Square, Cambridge.
3. IDEO Cambridge. Local outpost of the Silicon Valley-based design firm.
4. Cambridge Innovation Center. Houses dozens of fledgling companies, start-up oriented service providers, and venture capital firms.
5. (A three-way tie!) Google Cambridge, the local office of the California-based Internet behemoth; Kiva Systems, a developer of robotic warehouse workers in Woburn; and Cambridge-based Zipcar, the dominant player in car-sharing.
A few of the top runners-up were Terrafugia, the Woburn start-up building a "street-legal airplane"; tissue-engineering pioneer Organogenesis; and Blue State Digital, the Boston Internet consultancy that built campaign Web sites for President Barack Obama and the late Senator Ted Kennedy.
Many of these companies will open their doors to currently-enrolled students starting next month (if you know any, encourage them to join the Innovation Open House Facebook group to find out more.)
And do add others below you think deserve to be on this list...