Building a honeypot for innovation isn’t as easy as slapping a fancy name on something and walking away. It takes leadership to bring people together and consistent, sustained effort to make the changes necessary to attract business.
That’s why last night HB sponsored the kickoff meeting for the N2 Innovation Corridor.
I’ve watched this effort start with just a few conversations, then move into a bunch of committee meetings and then truly “kickoff” with a meeting of 250 people, all interested in networking, meeting, brainstorming and focusing one goal: turning the Newton/ Needham area of Massachusetts into a buzzing hub of innovation.
I thought it was a success when I walked in and saw all the sponsor tables, blue lights and excited participants. I thought it was a success when I heard the speakers. I thought it was a success when I met all sorts of interesting folks eager to advance the region.
But I knew it was a success when the young owner of a Boston-based tech firm walked up to Debi Kleiman of MITX and said, quite specifically, “how can I get involved?” This is a guy who lives in Newton, has an office downtown in a trendy neighborhood and runs an up-and-coming web development firm, just the kind of company N2 is designed to attract.
Today when most people think of Boston-area places to create an innovative business, their minds go to Kendall Square in Cambridge or the Innovation District along the seaport in Boston. Certainly these are awesome places to work, but as Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki pointed out last night, we need to think more regionally. Silicon Valley, he said, stretches for 50 miles. So why are Bostonians so focused on being within a quick walk of innovation?
That’s just one of the questions worth exploring as innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, journalists, communicators and government officials continue to come together to create a plan for the N2 Innovation Corridor. It’s going to be exciting to see how this develops.
A lot of the ideas that came out of the brainstorming session focused on making the area an exciting destination. People want incubators, restaurants, live/work communities and better transportation access. In short, they want to come to a place that seems exciting and has life. How do we get from here to there? Well, that’s the challenge and the fun!