The Cambridge Start-Up Ecosystem: A Village and Its Leaders

“It takes a village …” and a bold leader when it comes to supporting a start-up ecosystem. Mona Vernon is one of the best village leaders we could have. Mona and her colleagues at Thomson Reuters, like Wilbur Swan, fuel the thriving Cambridge startup ecosystem with aggressive early adoption of start-up technology like Recorded Future and Tamr.

We know that sustaining a culture of innovation requires seed investors with vision and faith; early-stage companies committing unnatural acts of engineering; bigger companies with meaningful problems to solve and offering the challenge of scale. But, most important are the leaders who must serve as aggressive early adopters – unafraid to take risks and try the next best thing. Easier said than done.

As Vice President of Thomson Reuters’ Data Innovation Lab, Mona pursues the dual missions of building an effective culture of innovation within TR plus creating critical partnerships with innovators of emerging and disruptive technologies. Mona is truly innovating at scale — making the notorious corporate elephant dance and pushing us to take the risks necessary for success.

It’s a valuable dance, pushing us, because it successfully happens every day in Silicon Valley among the giants like Google, Cisco, Yahoo!, Facebook and the immense network of smaller players against whom we often compete. The most aggressive early adopters of our products/services don’t just buy start-up products. They buy into the start-up ecosystem by driving new young companies to prove that their technology is capable of solving the world’s information challenges.

Visionaries like Mona and Devonshire/Fidelity’s David Jegen (who recently co-founded Fintech Sandbox with Ty Danco, John Fawcett and Sean Belka to fuel financial technology startups) create opportunity and a hyper-collaborative environment with wide-spread benefits. Technology accelerates. People engage. Value elevates.

And — critically — pathways open among larger companies and startups for people to move as their careers, lives and risk profiles evolve. Such interchange — really, teamwork — is the highly enriched fuel energizing a startup ecosystem. Movement creates value for each person and company along the chain of relationships. We’ve seen it for years in Silicon Valley. And we’re seeing it in Cambridge and Boston with companies like Thomson Reuters – and, of course, leaders like Mona Vernon.

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