The State of Boston Innovation: Poised for the Future
The recent State of the City address, delivered by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, projected progress in a city that’s as strong as ever, with increasing opportunity. He talked about the addition of 60,000 jobs over the past three years, an unemployment rate of just 2.4 percent (the lowest on record), and making Boston Public Schools the best they’ve ever been (see the full text of his speech here). He emphasized his pride not only in our healthy and thriving city, but also our innovative city. In fact, Mayor Walsh stated that “we’re ranked the best city for startups and a leader in venture capital success” and that “we made Boston a global headquarters city—a world leader in innovation, life sciences, finance, and law.”
We couldn’t agree more. We are strong supporters and believers in the northeast’s vibrant innovation and startup ecosystem, especially in Boston. This region hosts a unique combination of factors that make it ideal for tech companies to thrive, including its density of talent coming from top schools in the area. Mayor Walsh drives home this point in his speech, stating how over the last three years, “we made the Boston Public Schools the best of any city in the country. Last year, 21 more schools reached Level 1 or 2 status. High school and college graduation rates are at all-time highs.” Boston’s high quality universities are also an important contributor to the strength of the city’s tech ecosystem, with our own MIT ranking as the number one engineering school in the U.S. When it comes to degrees, the northeast grants 47 percent of the science and engineering doctorates awarded versus 16 percent for the west coast. As we know, all of these factors fuel the talent pool needed to drive the future of innovation in Boston.
We also stand out in certain areas against other parts of the country. This past year, Boston was ranked number one among the top startup hotspots in the U.S., including Silicon Valley, based on a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and 1776. This ranking was based largely on preparedness for the digital economy. We also thrive in terms of density, based on volume of startups relative to residential density. And when you look at the cost of living and the cost of business in Boston versus Silicon Valley, Boston takes the gold.
In his address, Mayor Walsh described our larger global presence: “when we pitched Boston as the world’s innovation leader, [General Electric] and many others responded,” referring to GE’s noteworthy decision to move its new global headquarters to Boston. On this global level, our 2014 research found that 80 percent of the world’s largest technology companies have a presence in the northeast. And over the past 10 years, we’ve seen startups from all over the world moving their headquarters to the northeast to establish themselves as part of this cutting-edge environment. These include 13 of our portfolio companies with connections overseas, and our recent portfolio company Codeship that moved from to Boston from Austria in 2014 to better position itself for rapid growth. We are a global headquarters city indeed.
Boston is rife with technology and innovation, and we are grateful to have been an integral part of this community since 1985. For a deeper dive and additional insights, check out our blogs “Four reasons why more foreign startups are moving to the Northeast” and “Why the Northeast is Best for Enterprise IT Investing.”