Back in March I attended an event held for the release of the Massachusetts State of Technology Report 2015. The best part of the morning, I thought, was the panel discussion with the mayors of Somerville, Holyoke, Worcester and Newton, all of whom came across as approachable, dedicated and driven to make their cities as good as they could be.
I particularly enjoyed hearing about the Holyoke Innovation District. The economic development strategy for Western MA - dubbed Pioneer Valley - was recently made available here. The strategy focuses on the "reconstruction, reactivation and service expansions" of the north-south corridor, aka the New England Knowledge Corridor (NEKC), and the east-west corridor, or Knowledge Corridor, the completion of a broadband network, the growth of the clean energy industry, "leveraging the impressive and wide range of economic attributes and assets concentrated in the interstate NEKC" (in plain English: "a population of nearly 3 million, a workforce of more than 1.25 million, 215,000 college students enrolled in 41 colleges and universities, and in excess of 64,000 businesses", which all contributes to make the NEKC the 20th largest market in the country).
The State of Tech report itself makes the following points, among others. "Innovation Districts in MA include the Boston Innovation District, the Cambridge Kendall Square District, the Route 3 Tech Corridor, the N^2 corridor (Newton/Needham), the Worcester Incubator, TechSpring (Springfield) and the Holyoke Innovation District. Noteworthy media initiatives include the Innovation Hub radio show, launched by and syndicated by WGBH, Radio Boston launched by WBUR, and the return of the Boston Globe to local ownership. Transportation-wise, "the MBTA extended late night service" (2014 and 2015, now ending service at 2am on early Saturday and early Sunday), "JetBlue established a new Worcester hub", "Logan direct air service [was] extended to 75 domestic and 44 international destinations". Companies such as Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft, J&J and IBM opened or extended their research centers. There are now over 20 university incubators and accelerators in MA as well as over 20 industry incubators and accelerators in MA (MassChallenge, Bolt and more) and the technology investments in MA companies over 2011-2014 have been valued to $4.86 billion.
The report also considers "three emerging technology areas that are poised to profoundly impact people worldwide and that Massachusetts has the potential to dominate: the Internet of Things, Security and Healthcare & Life Science Information Technologies". ("It's been said that Massachusetts predominantly works on technology that is crucial to creating and advancing the state of the art as opposed to entertaining people." Take that, California.)
- The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the upcoming connection of more than 50 billion devices to the Internet, unleashing up to $6.2 billion in new economic value. A well-known example is thermostats as components of smart homes. "For most businesses, IoT is not just about connecting new products but also about how these connections will completely transform the way companies engage with their customers, and the types of opportunities that open up through this deeper relationship."
- IT security and cyber-security.
- Healthcare/Life science: "The ability to collect, store, and analyze massive amounts of data - coupled with the emergence of the cloud, sophisticated robotics and advanced manufacturing - is catalyzing major breakthroughs in life sciences research and development, and revolutionizing patient care every step of the way. The result is a new patient-centric paradigm in which technology is powering the new future of human health."