Here’s an interesting, short piece that talks to the persistence of innovation centers. While touching on elements that fuel innovation over the long-term, including a consistence physical place, “social structures” (or what can be thought of as social systems, reflecting their more organic, vibrant natures) and leadership/commitment to the long-term.
During my 30 years living here in metro-Boston, I’ve been able to see and live through at least one cycle of what the author describes as “Generational Change” in the article. What he says resonates, but one small detail jumps out for me from the data – the persistence and shift of mid-sized innovation center. In particular, the Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire corridor just north of metro-Boston.
Up until the early 1990’s, Digital Equipment Corporation was the number two computer company in the industry (far smaller than IBM at the time, but still …). By the end of the decade, the company literally imploded and was sold off first to Compaq, which then became part of HP. What goes unmentioned is the layoffs of tens of thousands of people during this time – what is half-jokingly spoken of around here as the great “Digital Diaspora” (as in Digital Equipment, a.k.a. “DEC”). I feel so many seeds for today’s prosperity in the region were sown way back then.
Lots of places have want to become the “next Silicon Valley.” But that’s much easier said than done, according to a new study from the Kauffman Foundation. Developing a robust start-up hub is a generational event.
But, the Kauffman Foundation’s report concludes, “No place can transform itself overnight. Boulder has only entered the national consciousness as a start-up hub in the last decade, yet it has enjoyed an increasingly dynamic tech sector for much longer than that.” Start-up communities are networks — glorious in all their messiness and chaos. However, they aren’t simply organic phenomena, Boulder-based venture capitalist Brad Feld told me in an interview on this site last year. “You have to have leaders who are entrepreneurs. They have to have a long-term view,” he explained. Developing a robust start-up hub is a generational event. […]