As the race for the next mayor of Boston enters the home stretch, we are witnessing a substantive debate on the future of the city, spanning education, public safety, the environment, and economic development. One critical element of our future is how we support and grow our innovation economy, including life sciences and high-tech businesses.
Over the past two decades, Boston has developed a unique innovation ecosystem in which large and small companies are fueled by the region’s tremendous scientific, academic, entrepreneurial, and venture capital strengths. While this ecosystem has created thousands of jobs and dozens of new medicines and technologies that have changed peoples’ lives, its future is not guaranteed as other regions attempt to capture a piece of our success.
California, for example, had significantly more venture capital investment than Massachusetts across each of five key industries in 2012 — software, biotech, energy, medical devices, and IT services. In the same year, 1,280 companies received some $14.1 billion in venture funding in California compared to just 326 companies and $3.1 billion in Massachusetts.
To protect our future, we must change these trends. The next mayor must be a leader in fostering a strong economic climate and in outlining bold new initiatives that will further expand our innovation ecosystem.
The recent success of the Innovation District is a case study in how to create a thriving hub that can spark growth and excitement in the business community and across the city. Mayor Tom Menino partnered with the private sector to create a community of innovation-based businesses surrounded by new hotels, housing, restaurants, and arts and entertainment facilities — a vibrant neighborhood that is creating thousands of new jobs.
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