Excerpts from the Innovation Economy blog.
I have been asking a pretty straightforward question for the past few weeks, via Twitter and e-mails to especially well-connected sources: Who has been most active in 2012 to make Boston’s innovation economy better? I’ve curated that list and woven in names of my own to come up with 25 people who are dialing up innovation. A key criteria was whether they were involved with starting something new, taking over an existing entity, or expanding something. In no particular order, they are:
Aaron O’Hearn, Shaun Johnson, and Mark Chang: For launching Boston Startup School this summer, a six-week course to make recent college grads more appealing to fast-growing tech companies. The program wraps up with students making presentations in front of an audience of prospective employers. A second semester begins in November.
Katie Rae and Reed Sturtevant: For expanding TechStars Boston, the region’s top accelerator program for entrepreneurs, from one class of about a dozen start-ups each year to two. Each session ends with a day of demos for investors, who typically pump millions into the companies.
Gui Cavalcanti: For expanding the physical space — and course offerings — at Artisan’s Asylum, Somerville’s spiritual center for people who like to make stuff.
Greg Selkoe and Malia Lazu: For establishing a high-profile, fast, for the Future Boston Alliance. The nonprofit aims to make Boston a more hospitable place for young artists, creative types, and entrepreneurs. According to Future Boston’s manifesto, “We believe wholeheartedly Boston can once again be the premiere global city for arts, culture, ideas and innovation.” Let’s do it.
Jason Hanna: For expanding Greentown Labs, a workshop space in Fort Point Channel dedicated to energy start-ups. It has room for about two dozen companies over two floors. Greentown is the largest collection of cleantech companies under one roof in the region; it regularly hosts a mixer called Energy Bar.
Frederic Lalonde, Chris Lynch, and Abby Fichtner: For laying the groundwork for Hack/Reduce, a collaborative workspace in Cambridge with a mission to “help Boston create the talent and the technologies that will shape our future in a big data-driven economy.” It has raised about $3 million. It opens this fall.
Cort Johnson and Jeremy Weiskotten: For creating a new hub of tech companies on the edge of Chinatown. As a founder of DartBoston, a “community of ambitious young entrepreneurs and professionals,” Johnson regularly organizes big parties. Weiskotten is the host of the video series Scotch O’Clock,which has tech industry leaders swilling whiskey.
Sarah Hodges and Dave Balter: For launching Intelligent.ly, a classroom space in the South End that hosts courses on topics like programming, marketing, and design — all taught by industry veterans.
Jon Pierce and Jean Hammond: For organizing dinners, workshops, and conferences that discuss the pros and cons of making angel investments in early-stage companies.
Alexandra Adler: For bringing more start-ups, sponsors, and mentors into the annual Cleantech Open Northeast accelerator program and competition.
Dmitri Gunn: For his invitiation-only Entrepreneurs & Investors dinners — each followed by a poker game. The next one, in September, features founders from companies including Endeca, Crashlytics, and SessionM.
Howard Travis and Derrick Cheung: For putting an ultra-hip apparel store into the back of a truck and bringing it to the streets of Boston, forcing the city to (slowly) hash out the rules for retailers on wheels.
Paul Hlatky: For taking the torch at Greenhorn Connect from the site’s founder. Greenhorn aims to link students and grads with Boston’s start-up scene, with a comprehensive events calendar, blog, job board, and events.
Anita Brearton: For the new Women’s Entrepreneurial Council, attempting to “connect the dots” between the many groups and initiatives that support female entrepreneurs.
Sean Lindsay: For his Founder Mentors program, which makes matches between entrepreneurs and experienced mentors.