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The way Boston welcomes entrepreneurs and start-ups keeps surprising me. And I thought Amsterdam was a hub…. Here in Boston, a wide variety of organizations provide office space, advice and create environments for them to thrive faster. Some are initiated by the city of Boston, others are 100% private.

Tim Rowe, Cambridge Innovation Center, CIC, Innovation Express

Tim Rowe (Cambridge Innovation Center) on the Innovation Express

On Thursday, the 27th of October, I joined the Innovation Express on behalf of BostonTweetUp. This networking event was an initiative of Boston World Partnership (BWP), an organization that I was introduced to a few months earlier at the Leaders Networking Reception.

The Innovation Express aimed at bringing incubators and entrepreneurs together. On the Red Line of the T this time.. starting at JFK/UMass, all the way to Davis and back to Kendall Square. Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work out. Were we supposed to walk over to each location to learn about their services and facilities? Or were we going to stay on the train? If so, how were other participants who boarded along the Red Line able to find us? Entrepreneurs who I talked to had exactly the same questions, but admitted that this was also one of the reasons why they signed up for the Innovation Express. Just out of curiosity next to the networking opportunity.

Paola Mesadieu, BWP

Yoon J. Lee and Paola Mesadieu from BWP did a great job in communicating the details about the Innovation Express. Everybody who wanted to jump on along the Red line, was welcome to join the Innovation Express in the last car of the train.

“The Red Line is a key component in what makes the Innovation District work. It connects important innovative hubs in the city and serves as the artery that brings Boston’s best talent together,” as explained by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who started Boston World Partnership in order to raise global awareness of Boston as one of the world’s foremost centers of intellectual capital and innovation.

About eight speakers, using a bullhorn, explained their services and facilities to the entrepreneurs who joined the Express. Sometimes interrupted by the MBTA personal, making announcements on the loudspeaker as well, but overall they reached their audience quite well. Because of the awkward location – passengers who didn’t have anything to do with the Innovation Express entered the car as well – the atmosphere during the event became informative, but informal and fun almost immediately.

Line up Innovation Express

Line up Innovation Express

Venture Café
Back at Kendall Square, everybody gathered on the 4th Floor of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), where the Venture Café – held every Thursday from 3 pm – was just about to start. A smart way to integrate these two events into one. Especially because Cambridge Innovation Center, located in the middle of the MIT campus, is one of the most popular flexible office facilities for technology and life science start-ups in Boston. Or Cambridge, I should say.

I’ve been to the Venture Café before and met all different kind of people there. Lawyers, venture capitalists, students, self-employed designers, coaches and marketeers. The mix of these people all together makes every visit a surprise and worth going. Nobody is left alone standing in a corner, which happens occasionally when you visit a networking event in the Netherlands – yes even in Amsterdam.

Not in Boston. Everybody got a story to tell, that’s the common attitude in Boston. This openness creates new ideas and possibilities as well. People get to connect and build new professional relationships with each other. An atmosphere which is in my opinion as important – and an equal contributor to the hub – as its facilitators and incubators for start-ups.

I’m just happy to be a part of it.

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