I spent a day touring the Cambridge Innovation Center. The CIC is a Kendall Square, Massachusetts entrepreneurial incubator where 800 young men and women are launching their startup companies. They sit perched in small cubicles, bleary-eyed working at their screens on new ventures. They pay almost nothing for rent but get a lot for their money. The Center allows them access to MIT professors, venture capitalists, lawyers specializing in IPO documents or anyone who can assist an innovator to create the next Apple or Google. Once a week tenants and outside investors gather for a presentation of commercial innovations worthy of funding.
The building buzzes with creativity till 2:00 am or later. Tons of fruit snacks and too much coffee are available at all hours. There are large time sharing conference rooms for small groups to meet and promote hot new ideas. The atmosphere is over caffeinated, enriching and exhilarating.
Most of the 800 will fail and blow through the millions of dollars their backers have invested. But that is neither relevant nor significant in view of the billion dollar successes like Android, ZipCar that began at CIC.
I reflect on the parallel between these young innovators and New England’s old clipper ship ancestors who struck out for the far corners of the earth to trade commercial products. Anyone who suspects the country’s spirit of discovery died generations ago needs to spend time in one of the nation’s many incubators. I am dazzled by these empowered young men and women. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They speak the language of dreams, opportunities, and discoveries – better than anything seen in the old days. “Woe is me” and “Stay-at-home women ” is not found in their lexicon.