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Tuesday Night Hotel-Hopping: MITX Awards & Boston History and Innovation Awards

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 18, 2009 01:15 PM

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You know you are a bit innovation-obsessed when the highlight of your Tuesday night is meeting a Nobel Laureate: Joseph Murray, the 90-year old Wellesley resident who performed the first successful organ transplant in humans, in 1954. Murray was a guest at the Boston History & Innovation Collaborative's 10th annual awards ceremony, held last night at the Hotel InterContinental.

It was a pretty high-wattage crowd, including Governor Deval Patrick, MIT president Susan Hockfield, Globe publisher Steve Ainsley, Boston Harbor Association executive director Vivian Li, Charles River Ventures co-founder Rick Burnes, Boston Foundation president Paul Grogan, Leo Beranek of Bolt Beranek & Newman, and MIT prof Jim Utterback. In the photo are Tim Rowe, founder of Cambridge Innovation Center with Marina Hatsopoulos, whose father, Thermo Electron founder George Hatsopoulos, was being honored. (Rowe, whose Twitter name is @rowe, did a good deal of tweeting from the event, as did I.) The whole shindig was emceed by Jim Rooney of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and Bob Krim, executive director of the Boston History & Innovation Collaborative.

The most entertaining story of the evening was told by E Ink CEO Russ Wilcox, an honoree (along with co-founder Joe Jacobson). Early in the company's life, its engineers were having a hard time keeping the tiny black and white microcapsules that serve as pixels on E Ink's displays from being broken as they were pumped through a production system. Wilcox says they imported one of the world's experts on fluid pumping -- someone from outside of Boston, he noted -- to come up with a solution to the problem. Instead, he produced a report that declared that what E Ink was trying to do was impossible. Wilcox was dispirited...Until he showed up at the office the next day and discovered that some of his young engineers had hacked together a solution that worked, using a $12.95 aquarium pump they'd bought at PetSmart. They tossed the consultant's report in the trash and made a lewd gesture at the circular file. (The same gesture you're likely to see in Boston rush hour traffic, he mentioned.)

Boston, Wilcox told the crowd, is the best city in the world for actually making revolutions happen.

Earlier, I'd stopped by the 14th annual MITX Interactive Awards at the Marriott Copley. Bumped into Globe editor Marty Baron, as well as Jeff Bussgang from Flybridge Capital and Cesar Brea. A few pics from the cocktail hour that preceded the awards:

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Recruiter Keith Cline of Dissero (who also runs the VentureFizz site) was chatting with Matthew Mamet (now on the market, having recently left Visible Gains/PermissionTV) and Bobbi Carlton, the PR maven who also runs Mass Innovation Nights and the new Innovation Breakfast series.

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Carlton was wearing a Poken device around her neck -- a "social business card." (See above.) She hadn't run into any other Poken users with whom she could exchange contact info, though.

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Carole Gunst, the marketing consulting who also runs the great High Tech History feed on Twitter, was not at the bar the entire night -- just for this pic.

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Michael Barron, the founding father of MITX and an attorney at DLA Piper, with Blaise Heltai of NewVantage Partners.

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Brian Cusack of Google Cambridge with Don McLagan, former CEO of Compete.com (both are MITX board members.)

Spotted Sim Simeonov of FastIgnite and Philip Jacob of StyleFeeder on my way out, as everyone else was filtering into the ballroom.

Mass High Tech has the complete list of award winners.

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3 comments so far...
  1. I got one of those Poken thingy from a conference and they're stupid and useless!!!!!

    Posted by Chris November 18, 09 01:42 PM
  1. So nice to run into you, Scott!

    I haven't pulled the Poken out of the depths of my purse in a while. When I first got it I added it to my lanyard regularly but got few Poken "high fours" (you press the little hands together to exchange info.) Then I tossed it into my purse where it has been riding around ever since.

    I was curious last night if the interactive crowd might be Poken-savvy but no takers. Frankly, unless an event organizer buys them for everyone in the crowd, I am afraid they will never catch on, and you need a quorum for it to be effective. (I think you also need to make them less goofy -- although someone I spoke with recently mentioned they wanted a skull and cross bones version.)

    So, bottom-line, business cards are the one print media that isn't going out of fashion any time soon.

    Posted by Bobbie Carlton November 18, 09 10:42 PM
  1. Pokens should become more ubiquitous soon.. and we hope - from swissnex Boston - to use them for future events! The team is working on a business-oriented version of the gadget and accompanying services. By the way, their CEO spent 10 days in Boston in 2008 as part of the annual bootcamp called venture leaders that we organize every year: http://www.swissnexboston.org/activities/blog/8th-edition-of-the-venture-leaders-program

    Posted by Pascal Marmier November 19, 09 09:25 AM
 

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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