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HUBweek 2018

HUBweek attendees seek business opportunities — and a vision of what’s to come

Will Koch, a Boston University PhD candidate, tested a drone-control system called FlyJacket.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

In Roxbury, students at the Dearborn STEM Academy showed visitors their new school, designed to teach the skills kids need in an era of rapid technological development. In Kendall Square, leaders at MIT described the institution’s vision for the future of “the world’s most innovative neighborhood.”

Inside the Seaport’s District Hall, a rapt crowd watched a demonstrator operate a drone the size of a mobile phone with his watch. When he tapped the ground, the device dropped to a neat landing on the floor.

Karina Besprosvan and her brother, Diego, huddled outside the drone exhibit to figure out what they should see next as they explored the far-flung offerings of Boston’s HUBweek ideas festival. The siblings had come from Florida and California, respectively, and they were trying to pack in as much as they could.


“This is the city to come to just to learn about the future,” Karina said. “I don’t think about going to Chicago or San Diego for this kind of thing.”

That’s exactly what HUBweek organizers were going for when they put together their fourth annual event around the theme, “We the Future.” HUBweek is expected to convene some 50,000 people for a series of demonstrations, discussions, and debates about the shape of things to come. Founded by the The Boston Globe, Harvard, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital, the festival runs through Oct. 14. A schedule is available at HUBweek.org.

HUBweek’s Open Doors series on Tuesday involved happenings across Boston and Cambridge. Starting Wednesday, events will gravitate toward City Hall Plaza, HUBweek’s operations base and the location of many of the week’s banner attractions.

Some participants said Tuesday that they’d come to seek out new clients, customers, and business opportunities. Others said they were scouting for new ideas, or that they were simply excited to discover some of the city’s most interesting innovations.


Tech aficionados Susan and Paul Rosie checked out the drone demo, which was orchestrated by the Swiss diplomatic organization swissnex Boston. The Arlington couple also plans to attend events focused on artificial intelligence later in the week.

Paul said Tuesday’s events involved quite a bit of travel.

“I know they are trying to get people to come to the areas they think are the most interesting,” said the retired MBTA engineer.

On Tuesday, dozens of early arrivals were immersed in the second day of HUBweek’s introductory Change Maker Conference, which gathered people in diverse fields to share their knowledge and perspectives.

Lisa Niedermeyer, a producer who creates art related to the topics of technology, disability, and design, said the event was an opportunity to help people working in other fields understand the perspectives of people with disabilities.

“Most people who are coming from the technology and design space are thinking about how to ‘fix’ disability,” Niedermeyer said.

Boris Gromov demonstrated a drone interface that uses gestures to guide.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Her work seeks to demonstrate that the differences in how people with disabilities experience the world should not be understood as deficiencies.

“Design, from our point of view would be, ‘How can I increase the pleasure of a disabled person’s life?’ ” she said.

Andy Jacques, founder of the Connecticut-based business management platform Pulse 24/7, has been to HUBweek before, and has made connections that have helped him navigate the difficult path of a startup leader.

“Developing a sense of community around what you’re doing is extremely important, because a lot of times you feel like giving up,” said Jacques, who also was part of the Change Maker Conference.


HUBweek also presented an opportunity for out-of-towners to take a look at Boston as a potential market. Anthon Kristensson, who works in sales for the Swedish company PatAlert, said his company sees promise here for its product, which helps clients manage and evaluate patents.

“MIT and other universities are here,” said Kristensson, who was part of a small group who attended a morning networking event and tour at the Tufts Launchpad biotech incubator near Chinatown. “It’s got to be good to come here.”

At District Hall, Karina and Diego Besprosvan said they had been coming to Boston in autumn for conferences for several years. HUBweek, they said, offered the broadest vision for the future.

“They can implement it,” Diego said of Boston’s talent pool. “They have the knowledge. They have the technology. They have the mindset.”

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com.