GE’s move has us excited on a number of levels. For our business, a key Tamr customer is moving their headquarters into our backyard. For our city and state, it’s a massive boost to our economy and validation that Boston/Cambridge is a leading innovation ecosystem. For local entrepreneurs and startups, GE promises to add critical energy to our startup ecosystem for decades to come.
Beta Boston’s Curt Woodward highlights this last point in his terrific piece “GE’s planned ‘innovation center’ could be a boost for startups, researchers”.
As Woodward notes, the state and city governments’ incentive package for GE includes $5 million in funding for an “‘innovation center’ to help startups and academic researchers work with the industrial behemoth.” Or, as GE calls it, a “Digital Foundry … created for co-creation, incubation and product development with customers, startups and partners.”
We’ve written in the past about what it takes to “sustain a culture of innovation” in places like Boston and Cambridge:
- seed investors with vision and faith
- early-stage companies committing unnatural acts of engineering
- leaders who must serve as aggressive early adopters – unafraid to take risks and try the next best thing
- bigger companies with meaningful problems to solve and offering the challenge of scale
Our ecosystem has seen considerable growth in each of these areas over the last several years via great institutional seed funds, accelerating early-stage launch activity and visionaries like Thomson Reuters’ Mona Vernon and Wilbur Swan and Devonshire/Fidelity’s David Jegen.
With its arrival, GE will deliver a host of big, meaningful challenges right into our laps as it continues to lead “the digital transformation of industry” — from advancing life science technology to harnessing the Internet of Things.
It’s now up to us to meet the challenge. Because GE isn’t just buying into Boston’s real estate, employment market or incentive package. GE is buying into our startup ecosystem … the promise that we have enough talent and energy to meet their challenges … and the idea that if we can’t solve for what they need with existing technologies, we’ll invent new ones.
We’re fully expecting GE to drive us hard — both at Tamr and within our collective ecosystem — to prove that our technology is capable of leading their digital transformation of industry. We welcome the challenge, and know you do too.