FEELING DOWN ABOUT AMERICA’S FUTURE? RUN, DON’T WALK TO THE LOCAL BUSINESS INCUBATOR SITE.
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 little for rent, but get a lot for their money: Access to MIT professors, venture capitalists, lawyers specializing in IPO documents who can turn an innovator dream into the next Apple or Google. Once a week tenants and outside investors gather for a “Shark Tank” presentation.
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 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 and ZipCar that began here.
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 tea, spice and commercial products. Anyone who suspects our country’s spirit of discovery ended generations ago needs to spend time in an incubation center. I am dazzled by these empowered young men and women. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They speak the language of dreams, opportunities, and changing the world. They’re better than anything seen in the old days. “Woe is me” and “Stay-at-home women” is not found in their lexicon.