Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.
Had a lovely chat with Richard Gibbs, the splendid chap serving as development director of iCity in London, which aims to be a bit like Kendall Square when fully operational in 2018. Gibbs was in town to draw ideas from the Boston innovation scene that he can use in iCity, the planned innovation district on the grounds of the former Olympic press center. When complete, iCity will total 1 million square feet and include accelerator workspace, a massive data center, and a postgraduate research facility for Loughborough University.
One thing Gibbs likes about Boston is that universities, start-ups, and corporations all work in close proximity. The plan is for iCity to achieve a similar mix, and giants like British Telecom already are interested in establishing outposts among start-ups.
“This is the first time in my life that I’ve seen a paradigm shift happening in front of my eyes,” Gibbs told me. “Normally you see it in hindsight. The large companies are wanting to get as close as possible to the small people who are actually doing the disruption or understanding it better.”
Gibbs described iCity as “less tech and more creative.”
“Sometimes our American cousins find that slightly difficult to understand,” Gibbs said. “They kind of expect something that looks like Silicon Valley, and it couldn’t be farther removed. It’s much more gritty, it’s much more creative, it’s much more hidden and understated — but certainly no less effective.”
— Callum Borchers
A taste for entrepreneurship
Boston and Cambridge are dotted with start-up spaces geared to big data, video games, clean tech, and educational technology. The newest one, Food Loft, aims to provide a home for alimentary innovators.
The force behind Food Loft is Harvard Common Press, a South End publisher of cookbooks and parenting guides. The first three tenants are Bakepedia, an online resource for bakers; Culture, which publishes a magazine and website on cheese; and Nosh On It, which curates the best recipes from blogs and delivers them in an e-mail newsletter.
The Albany Street space is about 3,500 square feet said Adam Salamone, associate publisher at Harvard Common. Rents start at $100 to $150 per employee per month. He described Food Loft as “an anchor for food innovation in the Boston area.” He has been developing the space with Bruce Shaw, president and publisher of Harvard Common Press.
Shaw has made investments in food-related start-ups such as Yummly, a search engine for recipes, but the goal of the Loft isn’t explicitly to source more deals or provide a home for companies he has invested in. Salamone said the team is exploring the possibility of “launching a dedicated early-stage food fund that will invest in and be an advocate for food entrepreneurs and innovation.”
— Scott Kirsner
A night for insights
There was a whole lot of learning going on last week at District Hall during demo night for LearnLaunchX, the ed tech accelerator program. District Hall, a sort of clubhouse for the Innovation District, proved a comfortable venue for formal presentations and informal schmoozing.
Venture capitalists and angel investors got an education on what the LearnLaunchX teams are up to.
And unfortunately, a couple of teams got an education in how not to make a first impression. There was this exchange between Governor Deval Patrick and an entrepreneur who shall remain nameless:
Patrick: “Sounds like an interesting idea. Can you show it to me?”
Entrepreneur: “Uh, no. They didn’t give us Wi-Fi access.”
For the record, the Wi-Fi password was announced at the top of the program.
There’s a lesson: When the governor wants to see your idea in action, make sure he can.
— Callum Borchers