Power, Drugs, Money, and the Future of New England Innovation—the Journalists’ View

1/31/08Follow @bbuderi

Xconomy is all about hyper-local coverage of the local innovation community—and bringing idea and people together across disciplines and other boundaries. But as journalists, we’re typically out there listening to what others have to say, bringing it to light, challenging it, analyzing it, and sharing it with our readers. We don’t usually pontificate or speechify, though we are glad to do so when the time is right.

Well, next Thursday, a week from today, you’ll not only get to hear me, but also a group of other area journalists and writers weighing in—and sounding off—on the local innovation scene. We’ll be at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston to take part in Power, Drugs & Money, this year’s Innovation Summit put on by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. More specifically, we’re part of a plenary session called The Future of New England Innovation.

It should be good for some laughs, and hopefully some insights. Joining me will be Doug Banks, editor of Mass High Tech; Scott Kirsner, whose Innovation Economy column runs each Sunday in the Boston Globe; and Bob Krim, executive director of the Boston History and Innovation Collaborative. Our moderator will be the quick-witted, humorous, and insightful former gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli (an Xconomist who still owes me a post). Gabrieli’s usually the one getting interviewed—and I hear he’s already heating up the coals to grill some of us journalists.

We go after the keynote from John Kao, author of Innovation Nation. The idea is for us to provide a high-level view of, and reality check on, innovation in New England—both where things have been and where they are heading.

Here are some of the issues we will likely be kicking around:

—How is the Boston area doing relative to other clusters?
—What are our strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots?
—Do we have the right set of goals when we talk about “beating Silicon Valley?”
—How can we better take advantage of the interdisciplinary expertise and innovations that characterize this area?
—To what degree do we need to overcome the conservative New England culture and facilitate more risk-taking on the part of entrepreneurs and, especially, venture capitalists?
—Why don’t we see more young entrepreneurs getting funded here and what can be done to encourage more young people to become entrepreneurs?
—Is the lack of billion-dollar companies in New England really a problem or an excuse?
—And, of course, what is the role of the media in the innovation community?

As you might guess, I’m keenly interested in these areas—as are all the panelists—and in fact my belief that a better spotlight needed to be shined on local innovation was a major factor behind launching Xconomy (you can read more about why we started here).

Hope to see you there.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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