Big Events, Exits Raising Boston’s Innovation Profile at Year’s End

Xconomy Boston — 

Boston’s stock as an innovation cluster is on the rise. At least in the eyes of the outside world. In addition to increased interest in the region’s technology and life sciences companies, there’s a critical mass of activity taking shape as we head into the new year.

One notable effort: MIT Technology Review is organizing a big conference Oct. 5-8, 2015, called “Solve,” with prominent faculty members Phil Sharp, Angela Belcher, Rod Brooks, and Anant Agarwal leading sessions on healthcare, sustainability, manufacturing, and education. It will be part of a weeklong series of events called HUBweek, run by MIT, Harvard, Mass. General Hospital, and the Boston Globe.

High-profile events in technology and innovation have become commonplace in the Boston area—many of them put on by Xconomy and other outlets and organizations close to the scene—but it’s still hard to do them well. The good news is there’s plenty of room to operate, because there’s so much going on in technology, healthcare, and other areas.

Efforts to boost local startup clusters are prevalent across the country, from New York to Madison to Houston to San Diego. Each region has its share of challenges.

From time to time, outside media outlets take dives into the Boston scene. One of the better efforts to emerge is this week’s series by Re/code, which attempts to cover the past, present, and future of the area’s (mostly tech) innovation community.

The rest of the world, outside the national media, is well aware of Boston as an education capital. Now they are hearing more about the region’s companies and business talent. One data point: Irish venture capital firm Frontline Ventures’ look at the Boston startup scene this week.

It seems fitting that 2014 began with members of the media questioning what’s “wrong” with Boston tech—and speculating on the region’s future as a birthplace and sustainer of important companies.

Here we are at the end of the year, and a lot has changed. Tech companies Wayfair, HubSpot, Imprivata, and have all gone public. The biotech pipeline has remained strong, with companies like Dicerna, Genocea, Concert, Zafgen, and Tokai having IPOs. The big news this week is that Cubist Pharmaceuticals is being acquired by Merck, in the most significant deal since Genzyme was sold to Sanofi in 2011.

In short, the Boston innovation scene is as busy as it’s been in years. It still has a lot of work to do, but that bodes well for 2015.