When the International Society of Professional Innovation Management, an organization of leaders from over 70 countries, chose Boston for their US conference, they turned to MassTLC as their local community partner to put a spotlight on the US innovation engine.
As ambassadors for the Commonwealth’s tech and innovation community, we kicked off the conference with a world-class line up of innovation place-makers who happen to call Boston their home. This session, moderated by Scott Kirsner, Editor & Co-Founder, Innovation Leader & Columnist at the Boston Globe and included panelists Tim Rowe, Founder & CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center (the first and largest co-working space in the world), Scott Bailey, Executive Director of North America, MassChallenge, Emily Reichert, Chief Executive Officer, Greentown Labs, and Michael Tremblay, President & CEO, Invest Ottawa & President & CEO, Cours Bayview Yards.
They shared with our international audience the lessons they have learned, not just here in Boston, but in their travels around the globe working to establish innovation ecosystems abroad. The conversation ranged from insights for building an innovation ecosystem in your community to theoretical conversations about whether a region can be branded in the global psyche as more than one thing.
For instance, can Boston be known for tech or should we only work to be known for life sciences. Some felt that an ecosystem brand must emerge and, while it can be supported and guided, it cannot be picked and then made to happen. Pointing to recent history, through our experience a few years back with photonics, it was agreed that betting on winners and losers is a fool’s errand and a diversified approach is better since tomorrow’s leading cluster is already forming today.
But innovation is not all about place-making and the ecosystem. Innovation also requires leaders who are pushing the needle, redefining themselves and our region in the process. We chose to invite some of our region’s top industry leaders to share their insights from the corner office.
This all-star session, moderated by Raj Echambadi, Dunton Family Dean, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, included Needham-based PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann, Boston-based LogMeIn CTO of IAM and founder of LMI LABS, Sandor Palfy, and Cambridge-based Vecna Technologies Chairman & CEO Deborah Theobald.
These executives spoke of their experiences — challenges and opportunities — of building and growing world-class businesses. Their dynamic conversation was full of insight and even some humor. They discussed building teams, dealing with employee anxiety, integration of new technologies into existing products, competition, real estate, and more.
The lessons from both sessions were of broad global appeal and each was attended by over 200 inquisitive global innovation leaders. Massachusetts is consistently ranked #1 in innovation and the incredible leadership of our region was on full display at the event. While these leaders regularly globetrot the planet, it was a rare opportunity to have them all for us and our international friends to see them all together sharing a single stage.