Boston: The Cradle of Innovation

By @AJGerritson

Boston is a city steeped in history. Outsiders associate us with conservative values, understatement and bare-knuckle street politics.

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What many fail to realize is that Boston is consistently on the forefront of innovation.

This is something I am incredibly proud of as a Bostonian. I believe the city’s current administration has done a tremendous job of pushing initiatives through behind the scenes and I know people will continue to be surprised at what is yet to come.

Here are some examples of how Boston’s leaders are pushing us to the forefront of innovation:

1. Economic Development – Our city boasts an organization called the Boston World Partnerships. This new, non-profit organization created by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and run by Executive Director David McLaughlin, is a first of its kind. Its mission is to raise global awareness of Boston as one of the world’s foremost centers of intellectual capital and innovation, and to offer tremendous competitive advantages to growth-minded businesses. BWP is a public-private partnership with seed funding from P&G/The Gillette Company and the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

The BWP generates high-quality leads for economic growth. Each high-quality lead represents a specific, actionable opportunity to create jobs, attract a business, strengthen an existing Boston business, support entrepreneurship, or enhance workforce development.

To achieve these goals, BWP has created a global community of people who have ties to Boston’s economy, similar to an alumni organization. This network exists around an information-rich website and an array of social media tools, as well as events here and abroad where Boston professionals come together to share ideas, insights, and other resources.

2. Tourism – Do you want to explore Boston’s legendary waterfront, Fort Point area, or Public Garden? How about doing it on a self-guided iPod tour? That’s right, Boston is one of the first cities offering such an experience.

3. Green Initiatives – Have you ever seen a solar powered street sweeper? We got them. We also have solar powered trash compactors on many of our street corners.  Here’s a photo:

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Our city is also the first in the nation to boast green building zoning codes that require all building to be built to LEED certified standards.

4. Education – Boston’s Mayor has led the charge for transforming how we educate our young people. He has done this by pushing for legislation that includes greater flexibility in the classroom including longer school days for arts, music, more sports, and greater partnerships with area institutions to facilitate more learning opportunities. One example is the number of hospitals in the city that are partnered with Boston’s Health Career Academy. This partnership helps young people interested in the growing healthcare field learn on-the-job skills. Our city has also created partnerships between 5 of our universities and our most challenged schools to help aid in educational development.

5. Community – Boston created an iPhone application called “Citizen’s Connect”. This was a first in the nation for service requests. The city didn’t stop there either. They put together a team that the mayor calls the “New Urban Mechanics” that works with different departments to help them redesign how service delivery can be more user friendly and efficient.

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These are only some of the great things that make our city innovative. I would like to hear from my fellow Bostonians as to what they are proud of around town. I would also like to hear from people in other cities about the great innovations that makes their lives better.

Please share!

AJ Gerritson

AJ Gerritson is the Founding Partner at 451 Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @AJGerritson

4 thoughts on “Boston: The Cradle of Innovation

  1. AJ –

    thanks for the shout-out for BWP. Moreover, great job giving a little glimpse into the innovation that characterizes Boston. It’s an outgrowth of all the amazing schools here, which attract such incredible talent, and the diversity of the population and the youthfulness. More than half of Boston residents are non-white, half are under age 35, and one out of every three is between 20 and 34. That’s a lot of brainpower and energy as people spark off each other. We see that in the BWP community, which cuts across sectors and countries of origin and professional disciplines more so than any other group we know of.

    One area I’m really interested in right now is 22@ in Barcelona, which is a really ambitious planned innovation district. I’m interested in hearing from anyone in Boston who has been there and has an opinion on it. I’m not looking for lengthy academic analyses (though that’s welcome too) – just your opinion, whatever form that takes. I’m on twitter @connectorsRus or my email is dave@bostonworldpartnerships.com.

    Thanks!
    Dave

  2. Hey Dave,

    Keep up the great work! As a connector I know how much effort your organization has put forth to make this program so successful, thank you.

    @ajgerritson

  3. Dear AJ,
    Thanks for sharing some of the exciting things going on in our great city. As former Deputy Commissioner of Commerce for Massachusetts, I am acutely aware of the economic benefits and tourism offerings in and around Boston. With Mayor Menino taking the lead we have become a world competitor. At the same time, Boston has remained a connected community which welcomes diversity and multi-culturalism, embracing differences while acknowledging common ground. Your firm has contributed to this spirit by recognizing the importance of its history and promoting its energy and entrepreneurship. Kudos to you AJ! Keep the Spirit of Boston alive.

  4. Hi Alicen,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. As a Bostonian I am thrilled about what we have achieved and even more excited about what we can still do. Hats off to Mayor Tom Menino, his staff, our very hard working city councillors like John Tobin and Mike Ross, and the rest.

    Best, AJ

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