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Senator Spilka, Tech Hub Caucus Discuss Innovation & Economic Growth in the Inner Suburbs

March 19, 2014

Senator Karen Spilka and the Massachusetts Tech Hub Caucus met with a diverse set of technology executives and entrepreneurs yesterday to discuss the key issues that will help drive economic growth in suburban tech hubs. During the event, held at TripAdvisor’s headquarters in Newton, legislators and business leaders from around the MetroWest region examined the challenges that tech companies face as they grow and expand in Massachusetts. The group also focused on the role of public policy in helping to drive the future success of the region’s economy, including the impact of a wide range of issues, such as housing, transportation, education and cultural concerns.

“Today’s conversation highlighted the importance of continued interaction and collaboration with the vibrant tech community state-wide, and especially with the innovative companies driving economic growth outside of the Boston core,” said Senator Spilka, a co-chair of the Tech Hub Legislative Caucus. “As legislators, we can always do more to encourage and support entrepreneurship and innovation across the Commonwealth, through education and training opportunities, transportation improvements and other services.”

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Over the past decade, the Route 128 region has evolved from a hub of legacy high-tech giants such as Digital and Polaroid to encompass a mix of established tech firms and emerging startups in industries such as e-commerce, IT, healthcare and biotech. The past few years have also witnessed the rise of tech incubators and accelerators in regions outside of Boston and Cambridge, serving as places for entrepreneurs to find assistance in growing their companies.

A recent study from the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative highlighted the importance of technology in the state’s economy, as nearly 40% of the Commonwealth’s jobs are in innovation-focused sectors such as IT, software development, defense, bio-pharm and medical devices.

“The panel discussion today reiterated how essential it is to have continued communication between legislators and the tech industry. The 128 region demonstrates how large corporations and small start-ups can thrive outside of the city,” said Caucus co-chair, State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante of Gloucester. “We as legislators need to support the tech industry and other entrepreneurs to attract new talent to the area, and equally as important, to keep the existing talent we have here in Massachusetts, in suburban areas as well Boston.

The host of the event, TripAdvisor, is the world’s largest travel site* and a homegrown Massachusetts company.  The event brought together a diverse cross-section of tech companies, from established global leaders to startups involved in the MassChallenge accelerator program.

The session also featured a panel discussion “Growing Tech Companies in the Inner Suburbs,” which highlighted several local entrepreneurs, representatives from Olin College of Engineering, and executives from the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.  The panel, moderated by Greg Reibman, President of the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, allowed legislators to ask direct questions to the technology leaders in attendance. Members of the panel included:

  • Julie Bradley, chief financial officer at TripAdvisor – Newton;
  • Andrew Singleton, chief executive officer at Assembla – Needham;
  • Mike Feldman, vice president of engineering at Big Belly Solar – Newton;
  • Ty Rollin, chief technology officer at Mobiquity – Wellesley; and
  • Jessica Townsend, associate dean at Olin College – Needham.

Today’s event was organized by the Massachusetts Tech Hub Collaborative, in partnership with many of the state’s most prominent technology industry associations: Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC), Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX), and TechNet.

Charged by Governor Deval Patrick to serve as stewards of the state’s overall technology sector, the Collaborative brings together a cross-sector of leaders to address mission critical issues for tech’s future growth in the state. The Tech Hub Collaborative is supported by the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (www.masstech.org), an innovative public agency working with industry, academia, and government to improve the innovation landscape through cluster development, research collaborations, and other key initiatives.

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