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Exporting the Massachusetts innovation economy

Posted by Devin Cole  August 22, 2012 11:38 AM

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In the innovation economy, a lot can happen in 48 hours. That was proven in grand terms at this year’s BIO International Convention, held in Boston this June:

  • Massachusetts and Israel provided a combined $1.3 million in initial funding to four joint ventures developing new technologies in life sciences, clean energy, and information technology.
  • Massachusetts, Finland, Northern Ireland, and Catalonia, Spain, partners in the NIMAC initiative, supported a $300,000 grant for a multinational research study into developing non-invasive procedures to detect pre-malignant lesions.
  • Massachusetts and seven global biopharmaceutical companies contributed $1.75 million to launch the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium, focused on groundbreaking pre-clinical neuroscience research and industry-academic collaboration at Massachusetts’ academic and research institutions.
  • Massachusetts announced it would host a US-EU conference on connected health this October, the first time such a meeting has taken place outside of Washington, DC.

No wonder governments around the world look to Massachusetts as a global leader in the innovation economy.

Innovative sectors such as biotechnology, clean energy, and life sciences are becoming significant economic drivers. Governments in both developed and developing markets know that innovation can be a powerful catalyst for investment, job creation, skilled labor, and higher wages. They want to know how Massachusetts has been successful at creating its innovation economy – and how Massachusetts can serve as a model for their own innovation development.

During BIO 2012, many of these foreign government officials left the confines of the convention center and immersed themselves in the Massachusetts innovation economy. They met with state policy makers, academic institutions, hospitals, research institutions, established companies, start-ups, venture capitalists, and business incubators. They explored a wide range of topics, including how to bridge the gap between research and commercialization of new technologies, and the relationship among government, business, and academia in promoting and supporting innovation

What these officials saw is an innovation economy that works. Massachusetts benefits from significant contributions by the Commonwealth’s major innovation pillars: new technology development from the private sector, cutting-edge research by our academic institutions, medical breakthroughs from our hospitals, constructive engagement from our venture capital community, supportive public policy by state and local government.

Massachusetts has succeeded because innovation is not a silo within the economy, but a matrix of elements throughout the economy. This “innovation ecosystem” is fueled by the interaction, communication, and collaboration among the different individuals and organizations within the innovation economy.

So if we are so good at it, why is it important that other countries have the chance to learn and benefit from our experience?

Because new ideas don’t just happen in Massachusetts – they take place around the world. In today’s globalized and interconnected environment, Massachusetts can continue to innovate locally by engaging globally.

Governor Patrick acknowledged this at BIO when he stated, “Our innovation economy is thriving here in Massachusetts and establishing and encouraging international partnerships is an important part of our future growth.”

BIO 2012 was a platform to highlight the contributions that Massachusetts makes in spurring innovation – both within Massachusetts and between Massachusetts and global partners. Initiatives such as the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership, NIMAC, the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium, and the MOUs signed with Catalonia and the Medicon Valley region of Denmark and Sweden keep Massachusetts at the forefront of global innovation by inspiring new types of collaborations and partnerships that strengthen the evolution of innovation. These collaborations help foster new research, develop new technologies and treatments, and create new jobs and investment right here at home.

That is why we should continue to export the Massachusetts innovation economy model. It is good for business – and good business for Massachusetts.

Tim Fisher is Senior Consultant for Global External Affairs at the Liberty Square Group. He assists companies, organizations, and governments seeking to raise their profile and proactively communicate their business interests, product/technology platforms, and thought leadership to key stakeholders at the international, federal, and state levels. Mr. Fisher advises enterprises looking to expand operations outside the US or enter the US market, particularly through the Massachusetts innovation economy.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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