Boston As Innovation Hub
Boston has always been a strong innovation hub. Its fertile culture of collaboration and risk-taking has attracted corporates looking for the latest research; to hire recent grads; or to invest in startups.
With more than 40 university and industry incubators and accelerators state-wide, Boston has a wide range of resources to help startups grow their businesses. The city also has an incredibly strong professional services infrastructure with top legal, public relations and financial firms.
Boston, Massachusetts has long been known as a hub for technology and innovation. Its world-class universities and a cluster of leading businesses make the city one of the best places in the world to start a business.
In CBRE’s annual Scoring Tech Talent>> report, Boston is ranked as a top place for deep tech talent, with its ecosystem of MIT and Harvard university campuses attracting global research powerhouses. This combined with a large number of companies in the region that work closely with these institutions, has resulted in a strong flow of new talent into the local economy.
The success of these ventures is a testament to the fact that Boston has a rich innovation culture, which thrives on a collaborative approach and is built on a network of incubators and accelerators. These resources help the region attract and develop companies in all stages of development, from early-stage startups to established firms looking to grow.
Despite its strong innovation base, the city has also worked to ensure that it remains a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. As such, it has a diverse talent pool that is open to all sorts of ideas.
There’s also a strong sense of civic duty that runs through the region, reflected in the way VC firms and entrepreneurs give back to the community. This is a major factor in the continued success of Boston as an innovation hub.
As the area’s economy continues to evolve, many of the top-tier universities and medical centers have joined the innovation movement, contributing their research to the thriving startup scene. These include MIT, Harvard, Tufts, Northeastern and BU. These schools provide new ideas and the latest research into all areas of technology, energy, culture, politics, education and health care, among others.
Inventions, whether it be for new products or for better methods of doing business, are a big part of the culture in Boston and across New England. It’s a spirit that runs deep in this area, and it’s been a driving force for innovation since colonial times.
As a matter of fact, one of the city’s most famous inventions – the safety razor – was invented in Boston. King Gillette was able to find the right people to help him develop his idea because of the area’s built-in network.
Even today, many of the best innovations come from Boston-area entrepreneurs and startups. In fact, a recent CBRE report named Boston as one of the top places in the United States to find tech talent.
That’s because the region has a deep history of technology development and has access to world-class research and talent. This, combined with the city’s proximity to major universities like Harvard and MIT, makes Boston a leading global tech hub.
This also means that the city’s entrepreneurs and startups have access to a wealth of resources and support, including venture capital. As a result, the city’s tech ecosystem is highly active and vibrant.
In addition to the traditional tech incubators, Boston is also home to numerous startup accelerators. These include Revolve Nation’s Boston Entrepreneur Group, which is “put on by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.”
Another resource is the Inventors Association of New England (IANE). This nonprofit organization offers monthly meetings at MIT in terms of licensing, intellectual property, product development and more. Those looking to get more professional feedback on their ideas can also join their Inventor Clinics. Founded in 1977, the IANE is an invaluable resource for inventors of all backgrounds and experiences.
Inventor Assistance Center
The Inventor Assistance Center in Boston is a place where inventors can get their questions answered. Staffed by former supervisory patent examiners and primary patent examiners, it can help an inventor with patent searches and filing. It also provides general patent information and refers inventors to other USPTO staff.
This organization is dedicated to helping local businesses and innovators succeed by providing resources, networking opportunities, and showcase events. The group hosts a monthly tech and startup showcase that draws about 200 people to its venue.
Another great resource for entrepreneurs is Revolve Nation’s Boston Entrepreneur Group. Their mission is to support women-led businesses and provide them with training, microloans, and certifications. They also offer large networking groups, seminars and workshops, as well as special panels for female business owners.
There are many other places in the area where inventors can find help with their inventions. Some of them include:
The Hennepin County Library is a USPTO designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center. They have two resource librarians that are happy to assist an inventor with prior art searching. They also host a monthly program on patent searching the first Wednesday of each month.
They are also a place where inventors can network with other entrepreneurs and get feedback on their ideas. They hold two green tech and sustainable energy inventor groups a month, as well as many other groups that can be found on their website.
Lastly, if you need a little more help with your patent application, the USPTO has a pro bono patent clinic program for financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses across the country. This is a great way to ensure that your application is processed correctly and on time.
Incubators in the Area
Incubators in the area assist entrepreneurs to build and scale their businesses. These organizations provide resources and services such as office space, mentorship, access to a network of investors and corporate partners and other support that help startups become successful in their field.
One of the most popular incubators in Boston is Techstars. This program attracts top talent from nearby universities and offers funding, mentorship, office space and a global network of over 5,000 alumni to help startup companies get started.
Another program in the area is Lever, a cleantech incubator that provides early stage energy and clean technology start-ups with space, equipment, mentorship and networking assistance. The company also offers customized services to meet the needs of each individual startup.
Among the most promising innovation hubs in the country, Boston is a leader in both hardtech and life science innovations. Its innovation hubs – including MATTER, Portal Innovations and TechNexus – are driving the city’s health tech sector.
The MIT Mentor Smart Program is another of the best accelerator programs in the area that assists young science and technology entrepreneurs by assigning them mentors who can help them move their ideas forward. The program provides workspace and mentorship for startup founders, and it also allows them to gain experience in their industry by participating in a series of seminars.
There are many other good incubators in the area, and you can find more information on them by visiting their websites. Some of them include:
The entrepreneur ecosystem in the area is also growing, and there are more and more incubators popping up all over town. Some of these are student-led startups that focus on specific areas of interest, and some are open to all kinds of startup teams.
SBDC in the Area
The Small Business Development Center, or SBDC, offers management assistance and technical training in a wide range of areas for existing and new businesses. The program is a partnership of the private sector, education and the federal, state and local governments to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs.
For example, a business owner, Denzel “DJ” Williams, was able to purchase his own neighborhood convenience store after learning the basics from a Massachusetts SBDC consultant. This helped him develop his business, DJ & T Investments, which is currently owned by DJ and his father, Treslan Williams.
In addition to offering free business consulting services, the SBDC also provides modestly priced workshops and a variety of other programs. Its consultants have extensive experience in business planning, marketing, accounting and operations. They are paid professionals who can also offer advice about obtaining financing.
Another major part of the Innovation Hub is a startup business incubator. The incubator will provide space for entrepreneurs to launch businesses that stay in the community and create jobs. In addition, it will offer a community makerspace that will include a number of 3D printers and lathes.
As a business accelerator, the Hub will work with clients on a case-by-case basis. For example, a resident may come up with an idea for a business but have no idea how to launch it. The Incubator will help the individual develop a business plan and connect them with lenders.
A recent initiative by the Innovation Hub is to host a series of meetings to ensure that Black people and other people of color are included and prioritized in entrepreneurship training and support for small businesses. These meetings are a chance for entrepreneurs, business leaders and the community to share their ideas and suggestions.