Thursday, August 6, 2009

Retaining Talent with "Innovation Open Houses"

Scott Kirsner convened 40-50 students, professors, investors, and technology leaders at Microsoft's New England Research & Development (NERD) Center to brainstorm ideas for connecting smart students with interesting local companies for the purpose of exciting and connecting them to our local entrepreneurial ecosystems. 

Scott, who has been championing the cause of connecting students to industry for over a year now, has settled on an idea he calls "Innovation Open Houses." The premise is simple -- we already have a lot of great innovative companies here in Massachusetts. If we can help expose the transient student population to robotics and flying cars, more will get excited about what Massachusetts has to offer and might join a local company or choose to start a venture here. 

Unlike formal campaigns that require significant financial and human resources, Scott is crowd sourcing this concept and tapping into a strong undercurrent  in the local community. People are frustrated by regional demographics, brain drain, and company migration to other regions. This means Scott has many people and organizations who are already interested in the issue and are willing to help. In the room, for example, were folks from the Commonwealth who are championing the "Massachusetts, It's All Here" campaign and Flybridge Capital, sponsor of the "Stay in MA" campaign.

After brainstorming ideas on the whiteboard, the group threw about 50 company names up and then voted (students voted for 5; all others had 3 votes; Scott had the final editorial say). The resulting top 17 companies were:  A123 Systems; Blue State Digital; Cambridge Innovation Center; EnerNOC; Global Rescue; Google Cambridge; Harmonix Music Systems; IDEO Cambridge; Innocentive; iRobot; Karmaloop; Kiva Systems; MIT Media Lab; Organogenesis; Terrafugia; WiTricity; ZipCar.

MassTLC is committed to fostering entrepreneurship and promoting the success of companies the develop and deploy technology across industry sectors.  We are part of the Stay in MA campaign and have a long history of workforce development. We applaud and support Scott's efforts to break down silos and connect serious entrepreneurs to our local ecosystem. 

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