From the heart of Boston, the region’s high-tech-slash-innovation-slash-startup economy used to seem nebulous, undifferentiated, and distant — something that happened on faraway Route 128 or across the Charles Ocean, over near MIT. But the geography of innovation in the region is changing; the Globe’s BetaBoston recently reported that in 2013 Boston firms attracted more venture capital deals than those in Cambridge. As startups proliferate, the number of tech clusters is multiplying. And because of big differences in real estate and transportation conditions, and because the cultures of newer tech firms are often out of sync with long-established ones, the personalities of places like Boston’s Innovation District and Somerville’s Davis Square are radically diverging. That variation in vibe is worth encouraging. The easier it is for aspiring entrepreneurs to find kindred spirits to work among, the greater the incentive for all of them to stay.
KENDALL SQUARE: GROUND ZERO
Had John F. Kennedy lived, eastern Cambridge might have become NASA’s nerve center. Instead, once-vacant lots attracted biotech and information-technology firms that wanted to be close to MIT. The Cambridge Innovation Center, a foothold for small entrepreneurs, supports the region’s most varied startup scene. As Kendall matures, and out-of-town tech giants move in, savvy officials in the People’s Republic are sticking up for the tech world’s little guys: New zoning lets builders bust height limits if they set aside space for startups.
Former identity: The land NASA forgot
Cost per square foot: $57.85 (Class A, East Cambridge)*
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