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Boston's 20 big innovation economy events for 2012

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 9, 2012 11:17 AM

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Here's my list of big events happening in Boston this year. Some are home-grown, and others are major national conventions — like the annual conclaves of the biotech and cable TV industries — that are coming to town.

If I've missed an event you consider unmissable, feel free to post a comment.

- January 27: MITX's E-Commerce Summit

Boston's e-commerce community must finally be hitting an inflection point, since it now has its own one-day gathering. Agenda features speakers from Staples, Wayfair, Gemvara, and

- February 18: Venture Capital & Private Equity Conference at Harvard Business School

What better spot than Mitt Romney's alma mater to chew over the latest trends in the VC and PE industries?

- February 21: Ruby Riot

Just a big party, aimed at making new connections between entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and techies.

- February 22-24: Offshore Wind Power USA

Regulators and developers get together at the Hynes to talk about the wind turbines they're trying to plant in the ocean floor.

- March 2-3: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Economists, team owners, managers, journos, and agents — plus the Godfather of analytics, Bill James — get together to talk about the role data plays in sports.

- April 6-8: Penny Arcade East / PAX East

Gamers (and game makers) from up and down the east coast converge on Boston for panels, demos, and concerts.

- May 3: TechStars Boston Demo Day

A new crop of 13 start-ups present their business ideas to investors and the media; there's also usually a section of seats for "community members," as well as an after-party open to all.

- May 21-23: The Cable Show

The cable television industry tries to figure out its place in a multi-screen, on-demand world. Last year's event attracted more than 12,000 attendees.

- June 3-8: Display Week 2012

The Society for Information Display brings more than 6,000 people to town for some show-and-tell about those things we spend all day staring at: digital displays.

- June 18-21: BIO International Convention

Biotech and pharma executives fill the Boston Convention Center to talk about products in development, hunt for financing, and hope to find distribution partners.

- June 26-29: Red Hat Summit and JBoss World

If open source, middleware, and virtualization get your blood pumping, you'll want to cancel your summer vacation plans and get to the Back Bay this week.

- June 22: TEDxBoston

A cavalcade of short talks by big thinkers trying to change the world, in science, technology, the arts, and the public realm.

- August 13-16: eTail East

Internet retailers talk about how they're using search engine optimization, mobile commerce, and flash sales to sell us more stuff.

- October 24-25: Inbound Marketing Summit

Conference focuses on acquiring and keeping customers using social media.

- October 24: IDEAS Boston

UMass Boston again hosts a day of presentations by provocative personalities, ranging from chefs to surgeons to museum curators.

- October 23-26: Future M Week

A week of events and parties, focusing on what's new and what's next in the field of marketing.

- October (Dates TBA): BREW Boston

Several weeks of panels, workshops, and parties for Boston entrepreneurs.

- October 25-26: Emtech at MIT

Annual conference on emerging technologies, organized by MIT's Technology Review magazine.

- November 16: Mass TLC's Innovation Unconference

The biggest tech gathering of the year, where the agenda is created by the participants on the morning of the event. Also features one-on-one advice sessions for entrepreneurs.

- November (Date TBA): Eighth Conference on Clean Energy

A two-day event that features panels on funding dynamics, start-up pitches, and discussions of new technologies.

(Note: I've left off several events that I'm involved with organizing, like the Nantucket Conference and Convergence Forum, since obviously I'm biased.)

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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More from Scott


March 3: Web Innovators Group
Demos, drinks, and schmoozing at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge.

March 7-8: MassDigi Game Challenge
Competition for aspiring game developers... plus panels and keynotes related to the business of play.

April 3-4: Mass Biotech Annual Meeting
Issues facing the region's life sciences community.