Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Governor Deval Patrick has had a few solid wins of late. At the risk of sounding partisan, the Governor’s varying initiatives to create new jobs is good news for all Massachusetts residents.
Whether he’s rallying the clean/green sector through the Green Communities Act, encouraging the growth of the Bay State robotics industry or pushing big data as the next Massachusetts IT sector, his various initiatives to help the local economy recover are encouraging.
Last week the Governor attended the grand opening of a new Thermo Fisher Scientific Center for Excellence in Tewksbury. The facility promises to add another 100 jobs in research, development and manufacturing over the next five years. The Tewksbury ribbon-cutting ceremony marks another event in a series of announcements preceding this week’s BIO International Convention at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Back in 2008, the Governor inked a 10-year, $1 billion investment package designed to spur research, investment, innovation and commercialization in the Bay State’s life sciences industry. Apparently it’s working: The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council reports that R&D jobs in Massachusetts increased from 46,380 in 2008 to 48,647 in 2010. The biopharma sector has seen more than 52 percent job growth since 2001, and statewide more than 80,000 employees currently work in life sciences or related industries.
Many experts believe that number will increase as more companies—especially European-based biotechnology and life science players–set up local operations in Massachusetts. In fact, “at least 15 companies from Europe have set up shop or expanded operations in the Bay State over the past four years,” according to a recent article in the Boston Globe.
No matter how you cut it, this is great news for Bay State businesses, consumers and job seekers. Keep up the great work, Governor.
Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Last week Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, joined by key representatives from MIT and Intel Corporation, announced the “Massachusetts Big Data Initiative,” a collaborative effort to position the Bay State as a global center for the big data industry. Big data refers to the business of dissecting and analyzing the enormous stream of digital information generated everyday by consumers working, shopping or socializing online.
This announcement, paired with the Governor’s focus on expanding both the Massachusetts renewable energy and robotics industries, bodes well for our state’s economic recovery, and it could provide a model for other states to follow.
According to a recent report from the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC), 120+ Boston-area companies are currently working with big data technologies and those firms employ about 12,000 people in the Bay State alone. MassTLC estimates that an additional 58,000 related workers, including data scientists and data managers, are working in such industries as healthcare, online media and financial services. Most importantly, MassTLC estimates that growth in both areas could add 50,000 jobs by 2018.
We applaud the efforts of industry leaders such as MIT and Intel Corporation, other big data innovators, such as Endeca (recently acquired by Oracle), and smaller companies that include Tokutek and Hadapt.
Bring on the big data—we’re ready for the next technology chapter in and around the Massachusetts Route 128 belt.
Barbara Call is director of content for Greenough.
Friday, May 25, 2012 | 1 Comment
The Massachusetts energy economy could be in good shape for the future if our aspiring engineers and technologists are getting a head start during field trips such as this one:
Earlier this month a class of 5th graders from Shady Hill School visited New England’s largest privately-owned solar energy park. Although the Westford, Mass.-based facility is still under construction, it’s a good example of how Bay State companies, including Cathartes Private Investments, Nexamp, Inc. and National Grid, are not only banding together to develop real business solutions but also working to educate the next generation (as well as budding engineers, designers and scientists).
Field trips help reinforce knowledge in a practical, hands-on way, and I encourage all companies playing in the renewable energy industry to get involved. Does your company have a facility that demonstrates how your technology works and/or how it’s used to solve real life problems? I encourage you to reach out to your local school district (or those of surrounding towns) and volunteer your location as a “field-trip worthy” destination. Most kids love the outdoors, and fun ideas about sunshine (1336 Technologies, Applied Materials, Veeco Instruments), wind (Mass Megawatts Wind Power, Cape Wind) and even biogas/compost (Harvest Power) are relatively easy to bring to life.
You can also use kits and toys to pique interest and develop knowledge. The Boston Museum of Science’s gift shop, for instance, includes such products as Venture View’s renewable energy-themed kit (it allows kids to build six different solar-powered vehicles, and the solar panel in each one charges a rechargeable battery) and the National Geographic’s Sustainable Earth Lab, an environmental science kit for kids ages 8+.
Why not contact the Museum of Science (MOS) and design a kit or toy in collaboration? Or work hand-in-hand with the MOS to sponsor an exhibit or provide the props for hands-on demonstrations? (FYI, the MOS is usually filled with visiting school kids during the work week.)
My point is two-fold: Massachusetts renewable energy companies need to follow the lead of companies like Nexamp and begin serving as destinations for elementary and middle school field trips. At the same time, why not design a toy or kit in collaboration with the MOS, an organization such as the National Geographic Society or a forward-thinking toy manufacturer?
Renewable energy is here to stay, and exposing our kids to the growing industry is critical—especially in Massachusetts, where great ideas are hatching (and growing) every day. Knowledge is power, and remember you may be planting seeds for our next generation of green energy and clean tech futurists.
Barbara Call is director of content for Greenough.
Thursday, May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Surveying your customers in order to gauge their satisfaction with your products or services is nothing new—and applying that same principle to a PR, marketing and communications agency such as ours makes perfect sense. And we’ve been measuring client satisfaction for 11 years.
The results, as you might expect, help us assess our strengths and weaknesses, and they form a strong foundation for determining the agency’s to-dos, whether that’s to build on our ability to drive new sales for our customers or polish our storytelling capabilities.
Instead of purely bragging about our results, however, which you can see a select sampling of here, we challenge you to assess your own PR/marketing/communications agency on the following criteria:
1) Is your agency an extension of your own team? By this I mean does your agency work efficiently and effectively with your staff? Do the two teams have a solid rapport and bullet-proof communication? Does your agency enhance your own capabilities (versus creating redundancy) and complement your existing skillset (versus replicating key abilities)? If it didn’t violate any contracts or policies, would you hire the staff at your agency as employees? Do they have the same (or complementary) core values, work ethic, personal style (and even sense of humor) as your strongest team members?
2) Does your agency demonstrate a passion for your business? Let’s face it—it’s difficult for anyone to know your business as well as you do—but a good agency can come damn close—and should. Your perfect agency should demonstrate complete immersion in your industry, including knowing your competitors, understanding the key issues and having a familiarty with the major players, trends and developments. We’re not talking about a quick refresh before your next in-person visit or conference call—we’re referring to a deep and ongoing knowledge of all your strengths, weakenesses and paint points—internal and external. In a word, your agency should be a subject matter expert in your company and your industry.
3) Does your agency work proactively on your behalf? Someone once said you can’t teach people to be proactive—they either are or aren’t. In my opinion, the best employees are wired to take charge and think ahead—they try to solve problems ahead of the curve. The flip side, naturally, is less desirable—the reactive (versus proactive) employee waits for your orders before they move. Seems pretty clear which type makes a better partner, don’t you think?
4) Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, does your agency help drive new sales? Is your agency connecting you to qualified leads? Yes, a large part of PR, marketing and comuinications work involves building a brand, whether that’s through thought leadership (contributed articles), social media (Facebook likes) and/or media coverage (Wall Street Journal). But is your agency working from a strategic point of view, directing, managing and integrating all the efforts, from content creation and media outreach to social media, ongoing measurement and reliable follow-up, in order to drive new business into your hopper? At the end of the day, just answering that one simple question may be the truth you need.
Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @BarbaraCall1
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Leave a Comment
The South Korean government has a lofty goal—it wants to put a robot in every house by 2020. As part of this grand high-tech plan, which is designed, in part, to protect South Korea’s economy for the future, the Government is considering investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build a robotics innovation center in one of three locations: Massachusetts, Georgia or the west coast.
If the South Korean Government selects the Bay State (timing TBD), the upside would be huge—an enormous influx of capital would help drive local robotics innovation and product development, two activities that are already happening in at least two universities (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute) as well as at dozens of startups around New England.
Equally important is the impact such a visionary investment would have on creating jobs.
While traditional New England manufacturing operations for such industries as shoes and toys has moved offshore, advanced manufacturing, which the robotics industry requires, creates new, high-paying jobs. In fact, advanced manufacturing is the fourth largest employer in the Bay State, according to Ted Acworth, founder and CEO of Artiac, speaking at a recent Robotics Cluster gathering sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.
Earlier this spring executives from several local robotics companies and state legislators hosted a South Korean delegation in order to “pitch” the Bay State as the perfect location for the new center; next month delegates and legislators are expected to dine with executives from local robotics companies in order to continue the conversation.
It goes without saying that all robotics companies in and around Massachusetts, from Hydroid, iRobot and Harvest Automation to Symbiotic and Heartland Robotics, stand to benefit from this potential development, as does our economy (new high-paying jobs equals stronger local economy).
Naturally I hope the South Korean Government selects the Bay State for its new center. And I encourage everyone—at robotics companies or otherwise—to get involved, if you can, with whatever it takes to win this prize. But at the end of the day, even if the South Koreans decide to build elsewhere, the new attention on the topic of robotics will only help fertilize this budding business. Layer in Amazon.com’s recent purchase of Kiva Systems for $775 million and I believe we’re sitting on a rocket ship that’s about to take off. And yes—I can see robots driving that rocketship to Mars and beyond, can’t you?
Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @BarbaraCall1
Friday, April 6, 2012 | 1 Comment
A 2010 United Nations report revealed that more people globally are dying from chronic, non-communicable diseases, also called “lifestyle diseases,” than from infectious disease. The UN report identified “tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol” as the primary causes of heart disease, stroke and cancer. While tobacco and alcohol are regulated, diet is not—and many scientists and doctors are now touting the harmful effects of America’s dietary choices, particularly the perilous effects of sugar.
One pioneer in the public health campaign around sugar is Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, and Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at the University of California, San Francisco. Lustig spearheaded this movement with his 2009 YouTube video Sugar: The Bitter Truth, which explores the health damage caused by sugary foods and encourages dietary regulation. Dr. Lustig argues that sugar in all forms, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, is one likely cause of lifestyle diseases. Lustig’s video, to no one’s surprise, went viral, and The Bitter Truth opened the door for further research on the topic of sugar and health.
Lustig’s campaign is supported by molecular biologist Kimber Stanhope, whose studies have shown that people who consume large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup are at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. And researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are studying whether sugar can cause a sudden spike in the hormone insulin, which in turn may fuel certain types of cancers. This is an alarming premise, especially considering that America’s consumption of sugar has increased dramatically in the last two centuries, from just around six pounds annually in 1822 to more than 100 pounds in 1999.
Despite these recent findings, sugar’s effect on the diet is a complicated issue. Lustig admits that scientists are still trying to understand how different forms of sugar are processed by the body—the theory is that some types of sugar are worse than others (Is brown sugar worse than white sugar? And so on). Furthermore, the debate continues regarding the effect of sugar in healthy foods. Dr. Lustig admits that an apple is good for you, despite its high fructose content. Many nutritionists would say the apple’s high fiber content and complex interplay of nutrients offsets the fructose.
Settling on a solution may be equally complex, especially considering the consequences. Some groups are calling for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to mandate that food companies list any added sugars on the nutritional panel of every item. Radical proponents such as Lustig are even more rigid, proposing stopgaps to sugar access, much like what we have with drugs and alcohol today. This includes sugar taxes, placing age limits on sugary food purchases and even limiting advertising of sugar-sweetened food and beverages.
In the absence of government intervention, I believe the onus is on healthcare providers and leaders in the healthcare industry to raise awareness of the sugar/health issue and offer solutions. As one of the world’s most advanced cities for healthcare, Boston and its medical community has risen to this challenge. A number of Boston-area hospitals have created Public Health Campaigns to encourage limiting excessive sugar consumption. Last year, Carney Hospital in Dorchester became the first hospital in Massachusetts to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages on its campus. Since then, nine additional Boston hospitals, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Boston, have pledged to work together on efforts to reduce consumption of sugary beverages.
Absent government intervention, if that’s even warranted, I believe today’s leaders in the healthcare industry must work together to encourage lower sugar consumption. To date, I’m impressed with what many of Boston’s leading hospitals have initiated to raise awareness to the issue, and I believe it bodes well for future public health campaigns. Do you agree?
Sarah Hurley is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter at @Sarah_Hu
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | Leave a CommentWhen executives from leading Massachusetts clean technology companies gathered on Beacon Hill March 13 for the New England Clean Energy Council’s (NECEC’s) inaugural Clean Energy Day, their message to legislators emphasized three key points: Jobs, Jobs and Jobs.
The business leaders and entrepreneurs that make up NECEC—including companies like Aircuity, Nexamp, Boston Power, Konarka, Ambient and A123 Systems, among many others—are betting on Massachusetts as the place to capture the next big economic opportunity. To do that, they need business-friendly state leadership and strong clean energy policies.
Clean energy companies in Massachusetts already employ 64,000 people, and that number is growing. The industry added more than 4,000 jobs in 2010, a growth rate of almost 7 percent, and that rate will likely double in 2011. Whether providing holistic home energy services or pushing disruptive technologies for electric vehicle batteries, solar thermal, smart grid or wind, clean energy firms are growing and expanding in Massachusetts every day.
Need more convincing? Just ask the professional investment community. Massachusetts has attracted the second-largest concentration of clean energy venture capital in the country. These are not players driven by emotion – these are sophisticated financial analysts who are laser-focused on results. They’re betting big sums on Massachusetts companies because we offer smart business models paired with cutting-edge technology. This combination often results in job creation and raises the standard of living for the entire region.
To their credit, Massachusetts state officials have shown leadership in this area. Bipartisan passage of the Green Communities Act in 2008 positioned Massachusetts to improve our economy (and the environment) by increasing the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy. This has saved Massachusetts families and businesses billions of dollars, lowered electric bills in our state and spurred innovation and investment in new energy technologies. The resulting jobs have also been a boon for the state: Today the estimated median annual wage in Massachusetts’ clean economy is more than $1,000 higher than it is for all other jobs across the state.
Despite the huge opportunities in the clean energy economy, opponents remain. They will try to stave off clean energy development with unfounded claims about the Green Communities Act and related costs while ignoring the value of clean energy investment and its robust return. In a time when subsidies for fossil fuels are 10 times those for renewables, it’s time to embrace the truth that savings from efficiency and renewables adoption far exceed the cost of business as usual. Are you bullish or bearish? Please weigh in.
Jay Staunton is Vice President, Account Services, at Greenough.
Thursday, October 14, 2010 | 3 Comments
Remember the “House Rules” that were posted on your childhood refrigerator? Is it just me, or were these rules always daunting challenges despite the simplicity of their request? For example, “If you sleep in it, make it” seemed to always escape my list of priorities when I rushed out the door in the morning; “If you drop it, pick it up” was an easy rule to avoid, thanks to my family dog who was punctual to the point of neurosis when it came to windfall profits at the dinner table. I hated these rules, so I ignored them. While I didn’t appreciate these House Rules at the time, in retrospect I now understand that my parents were teaching me the importance of taking responsibility for my actions and contributing to the household.
A similar lesson is being instilled in Boston residents today, and technology is taking the House Rule “If you break it, repair it” to a whole new level. Mayor Menino and the City of Boston are promoting an iPhone application called Citizens Connect that allows users to report graffiti, request a traffic light fix, report damaging potholes, and clear any other obstruction or infraction they notice. Initiated in October 2009, Citizens Connect remains largely successful, attracting 8,500 users whose reports accounted for 14% of the Mayor’s total complaints.
When I heard about this program, I thought it was awesome; partially because it is a wonderful idea and the city is looking better by the day, but mostly because I found my escape route – I don’t own an iPhone! But fear not, my fellow chore-avoiding, non iPhone- using peers; the latest installment of Citizens Connect will create not only an interactive feature between contributing residents, but is also going to become available on Droid phones, and there will be a webpage accessible by BlackBerry and more conventional computers. Those with the application will be able to view not only the reports they sent in, but they will also view the reports of others and thus can post again to emphasize the problem, or move on to the next blight. The city also plans to make its data available to the public, allowing programmers to build their own apps, make mashups, and have other fun on the Web. These features will be available next month, and there will be a kick-off party November 8th at Ned Devine’s Pub in Faneuil Hall.