Boston Tech Agenda 2017: 5 Things to Watch For This Year

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keep an eye on their activities as well. Many of them have shifted a lot of their investments to the West Coast in recent years. Will that trend continue, or will Boston companies recapture more of their attention?

4. There will be more collaboration, but will it bear fruit? One of the local tech themes of 2016 was the launch of initiatives aimed at forming and supporting new companies. Two prominent examples were MIT’s creation of The Engine, which will include a potentially $150 million venture fund and affordable office and lab space for startups working on hard technologies; and a digital health initiative that includes an accelerator-like program for startups (Pulse@MassChallenge) and a $26 million venture fund.

Those efforts involve collaboration between different types of entities and sectors, such as academia and venture capitalists, startup accelerators and large institutions, the private and public sectors, healthcare and tech, and more. How well will all those stakeholders work together? What tangible effects will the initiatives have on the tech scene, locally and nationally? We probably won’t be able to answer those questions by the end of 2017, but we should start to get a clearer picture of the initiatives’ potential impact.

5. Will Boston move the needle on boosting diversity in the tech community? The lack of women and underrepresented minorities in tech is a troubling problem for the whole industry. In Boston, organizations like Hack.Diversity, Resilient Coders, and the New England Venture Capital Association are among those trying to combat the problem. And local tech companies like EzCater have publicly committed to strengthening the diversity of their workforce, and are being transparent about the steps they’re taking.

Such efforts deserve to be lauded, but they take time. Here’s hoping that more tech companies in Boston and elsewhere pledge to make their staffs, C-suites, and boards more diverse; that they follow through; and that the industry’s diversity statistics improve by the end of 2017.

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Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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