Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Katie Rae celebrated her birthday by giving a talk about how her organization, The Engine, will provide funding and other resources to help startups working on complex technologies to bridge the chasm between the research lab and the venture capital stage. The Engine, started by MIT last year, has term sheets with five companies, Rae said.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Paul English entertained the crowd with tales from Kayak, Lola (his current startup), and his experience as an Uber driver ferrying locals around town in his Tesla. (He's got a 4.93 rating out of a possible five, but the unknown riders who gave him less than five stars still bug him.) English also shared his thoughts on making an impact as an entrepreneur, and what advances in areas like artificial intelligence will mean for our future.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

It was an engaged audience throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Jodi Goldstein of the Harvard Innovation Labs makes a point while Pillar's Russ Wilcox and moderator Jody Rose, of the New England Venture Capital Association, look on. The panel explored whether businesses have a responsibility to make a positive impact on society, and what forms that can take.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Mohamad Ali highlighted the significant role that immigrants have played in building the American economy, and he offered solutions to challenges in workforce development and other business issues.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

The audience had plenty of questions for our speakers.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Earplay's Jon Myers used an Amazon Echo Dot to demo his startup's voice-directed audio narratives, which blur the line between consumer and creator of entertainment content.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Myers chatted with attendees after his presentation.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Attendees checked out some of the exhibits at the Museum of Science before the program began. This was the second year in a row that Xconomy held a June event at the museum.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

The festivities spanned multiple floors of the museum.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Attendees mingled during a break in the action.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

People enjoyed good conversation (and good snacks) during the break.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Time to wet the whistle before heading upstairs for the second half of the program.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Data is "the new oil," but its use often triggers concerns about privacy and other issues. MIT Media Lab researcher and entrepreneur Sandy Pentland highlighted ways that large data sets are being used for the public good.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

IBM Research's Sophie Vandebroek had a lively discussion with Xconomy's Bob Buderi about the "Internet of Everything."

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Natan Linder of Tulip made a point about the future of manufacturing, while Desktop Metal's Ric Fulop (second from right), Veo Robotics' Clara Vu (far right), and I listened. (No, he wasn't making a crack about me or my red shoes.)

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Steve Papa of Parallel Wireless has an idea about how to bring wireless connectivity to the far reaches of the globe.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Ramses Alcaide explained how his startup, Neurable, is trying to commercialize "brain-computer interfaces" for virtual and augmented reality. He was joined by moderator Greg Huang of Xconomy (far left), Cinch Financial's Sean Collins (second from left), and Nate Treloar of Orbita.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

You couldn't ask for a better setting for a networking reception---the banks of the Charles River, overlooking the Boston skyline. It's even better with perfect summer weather.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

After the program, Collins was so thrilled by the event he had to "cheers" everyone with two glasses. Cinch's Katie Creegan and Buderi approve.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Soofa's Sandra Richter couldn't believe what Vu had to say.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Speakers and guests enjoyed tasty food and delicious adult beverages after the program ended.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Treloar chatted with attendees at the networking reception.

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Xconomy IMPACT: Innovation That Matters

Cheers to the sponsors, speakers, guests, and everyone who made IMPACT a big success!

Photo by Keith Spiro Photography

Last week’s Xconomy IMPACT event at the Museum of Science in Boston tackled a big theme—“innovation that matters”—but our speakers did not disappoint.

The program explored a broad mix of ambitious ideas and advanced technologies—brain-computer interfaces, self-driving cars, collaborative robots, interactive entertainment, and much more. Speakers also offered solutions to some of the most pressing issues the tech and business community faces right now, such as accessing enough talented workers.

Special thanks to our gold sponsors, Autodesk and GE; our innovation supporters, the CIC and TimeTrade; and our reception co-host, Cinch Financial. Also, a big shout-out to Keith Spiro Photography for the pictures above.

We’ll leave you with six memorable quotes from the program:

Katie Rae, The Engine: “There’s been a brain drain toward [working on] easier things, which might be great for an individual, but for a society is not a great thing because you leave a lot of the next inventions on the shelf or to be invented by somebody else.”

Paul English, Lola: “A lot of times as technologists, I want to make sure that we’re not ignoring human solutions, which sometimes can work better than technology.”

Sandy Pentland, MIT: “Data is the new oil. Data also gets an amount of press that’s incredibly negative, about privacy and all those sorts of things…The truth is we’re not going to give up our cell phones. Cell phones make data. We’ve got to find a way to live with this and turn it into good things.”

Jodi Goldstein, Harvard Innovation Labs: “I feel like it is our responsibility to create the environment and the circumstances by which the people who want to solve the world’s biggest problems can do that.”

Russ Wilcox, Pillar: “We should hold [business] leaders accountable for integrity and for earning a profit.”

Mohamad Ali, Carbonite: “It was striking when Jamie Dimon gets up and says companies have a moral obligation to do the right thing. When have you ever heard that before? Something is different. And that’s a good thing that something is different. People are waking up.”

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