Here’s An Idea to Stimulate Massachusetts Innovation: Focus on Substance, Not Image

Unless you’ve been on an innovation vacation in recent months, it’s been hard to miss all the talk here in Massachusetts about finding a new “brand” for the state’s IT community—you know, as a way to compete with those who’ve gone to (or were already on) the Dark Side, aka Silicon Valley.

I’ve got lots of thoughts on this general subject—especially in regard to the constant comparison innovators and venture capitalists here make to their counterparts on the West Coast, and the massive inferiority complex that seems to go along with it. (My simple idea: focus on being the best you can be and don’t worry about those SV folks.) And I hope to share some ideas on this subject soon.

My colleague, Wade Roush, though, is way ahead of me. Like me, he is tired of all the talk about branding—or at least the attention and resources this discussion seems to get at the expense of more substantive efforts. But unlike me, he has actually put forth a list of some substantive things the state, and its innovation leaders, should be focusing on way before they worry about branding—ideas designed to stimulate an already vibrant innovation community and make it even stronger.

Wade’s article, “Massachusetts Technology Industry Needs a New Deal, Not a New Brand,” is a departure from his usual weekly column, World Wide Wade, which typically looks at interesting new Web developments, gadgets, and the like. But, to my mind, it is a great breath of fresh air—and a much-needed shift in the debate. Even if we keep the inferiority complex, showing the way to more effective innovation is a lot more productive—and innovative—than beating our chests about what we already do.

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

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