If you want to get a sense for the impact startups, biotech, hackers, and makers are having on Greater Boston, the evidence is right around the corner: Buildings rising up from parking lots, coworking spaces bustling with activity and optimism. It’s happening in Kendall Square and the Innovation District, of course, but in Downtown Crossing and Davis Square, too.
And while it may not monetarily rival the $1.1 billion mega-deal for Vertex’s new headquarters, I find the story of the old Ames Safety Envelope factory in Somerville just as inspiring. When I lived down the street from there, Ames was just vacating a series of warehouses after being acquired by a Wisconsin company, shuttering 150 jobs.
But now, four years later, the site is home to Artisan’s Asylum, Greentown Labs, and Brooklyn Boulders Somerville, which collectively host hundreds of entrepreneurs and artisans, plus workshops, training, and networking opportunities. Today we have a look inside Aeronaut Brewing, yet another entrepreneurial host that happens to be making beer while building new companies.
It’s tempting to root for the reinvention along the Red Line, but as the Ames reinvention shows, to do so misses the depth, breadth, and diversity of what makes New England’s ingenuity so special. Innovation in New England is not just the story of what’s happening between the Seaport and Kendall Square; it’s the story of what is happening in Providence, in Worcester, in the dorm rooms of over a hundred regional colleges. Here, we don’t just celebrate the must-have mobile apps, but the robotics, pioneering life sciences research, and green tech that will reinvent and redefine tomorrow, for better and worse.
And like all of the most interesting stories, New England’s reinvention has two sides: For every “disrupted industry,” jobs are destroyed even as fortunes are made. The technology that connects us can be used to track, control, and influence. While some will be rewarded with almost unimaginable wealth, others will be left behind in almost unimaginable poverty, often in the same city, or even on the same block.
This, too, is the story of innovation in Massachusetts.
And so today, after months of work from the Globe’s own amazing team of designers, developers, and project managers, we’re excited to launch BetaBoston. We’ll be breaking news about startups, tech, and biotech, while examining how the innovation economy is reshaping the region’s physical landscape alongside its culture, with excitement for the opportunities and a critical eye to the costs.
To tell this story, we have some familiar faces: Scott Kirsner with Innovation Economy and new senior staff writers Kyle Alspach and Dennis Keohane, both well-known names in local startup coverage. BetaBoston’s original coverage will be joined by the best work the Boston Globe’s talented reporters as well as an array of contributors with a fresh take on how innovation is reshaping Boston, and how Boston innovation is reshaping the world.
Like all good beta products, Boston is in a constant state of reinvention. We’re here to tell that story.
Michael Morisy is the editor of BetaBoston. Send innovation bug reports, pull requests, and story ideas. Michael can be reached at Michael@BetaBoston.com and on Twitter at @Morisy.