Last week I had a chance of attending two events. The first was at the Microsoft's New England Research & Development centre (they proudly call themselves NERDs) on robotics. It was kind of cool to see military robots used for bomb disposal squad, and within yards to see college students displaying their 'autonomous fire extinghishing robot' (which had won an award for its ability to navigate a maze on its own and put out fire (actually candles!) in three locations). I met with Dan Bricklin, the person who invented spreadsheets (Visicalc), his book 'Bricklin on Technology' is just out and by the looks of it seems very interesting (no I am not getting any commission from him, just thought he is an interesting visionary guy and the book seems to have a collection of 'interesting conversations' on technology). I also met with the ex-CTO of Lycos Don Kosak and to get to hear his vision and story from the early days of the internet. I also saw 'Surface', the technology we discussed in our first case study at Babson; two people were playing chess on the Surface table. It looked like fun and interesting (I am sure at the right price point, many entrepreneurs will find new uses for it)
The second event was the IT Collaborative Dialogue, again held at NERD. Back in January, Governor Patrick of Massachusetts had challenged the industry and academia to come together with the government to determine the direction and shape the future of IT. 18 leaders came together and formed the IT collaborative to create the industry-led framework. The event was excellent platform to communicate among each other and to understand, appreciate and realise the strength and vitality of the IT sector in Common Wealth of Massachusetts.
While listening to the speakers, during the question answer sessions, participating in the break out sessions, and networking afterwards with the industry leaders and govt. officials, I could not help but notice and think about the similarities of issues, challenges and opportunities that Massachusetts and Scotland face. So, here are the key points I found interesting:
Governor Patrick announced a $1 million business plan competition, open to ideas and companies globally. In Scotland, we have likes of SMART, SPUR and SPUR+ awards to encourage innovation. Greg Bialecki, Secretary for Economic Development and Housing, stressed the need for change in culture to become more friendly and welcoming to attract talented people, to be a Big Welcome sign = We are open for business and are friendly (I think they mean it, as later when we exchanged cards and he walked away, the Industry Director-Creative Economy came and also took contact details saying "In case the secretary forgets, I will get in touch!" )
If some of the above points sound quite general, that is because I have tried to summarize the details at a fairly high level. At the event, there was some solid discussion about practical steps to be taken to move in the clearly determined direction of making Massachusetts a destination of choice for future businesses (competing both with CA and internationally).
Why have I shared this lengthy motherhood and pie? Because I genuinely believe there is a lot of potential to create the Scotland of tomorrow with learnings from others....and like Massachusetts, Scotland prides itself in its quality of
education and friendliness of people (and with perception of neutrality by the outside world). There are a lot of similarities, and areas of collaboration and avenues of learning from each other's experiences.
Governor Patrick acknowledged the current hard times, but then shared with us what his grand mother used to say "Never describe yourself as poor,.... always say I am broke...." because broke is temporary. All cycles are temporary. Things would and do take turns.
Look up & Look forward.
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