Boston is a very stimulating place for forward-thinking groupsFounded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Among its main features is the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking route of historic sites that tells the story of the American Revolution. Such historic attractions remain extremely popular among meeting groups and others visiting the city, and always will be an essential part of the city’s fabric. But Boston is by no means stuck in its gloried past: It also is a very progressive city, and is becoming more so by the minute. Innovation is key to the city, as seen in names of city blocks, conferences and businesses, including the once-dilapidated Seaport Innovation District. Bostinno, an online news site and community publishing platform, has covered “the view from inside” innovation taking ahold of the city’s core and reverberating out into other parts of Greater Boston. The media company also holds an annual State of Innovation conference, a leading forum for the city’s startup and business communities. There’s even an Innovation and Design Building, which houses a dynamic mix of companies and industries, such as architecture and creative service studios, specialized manufacturing facilities, research and development firms, and technology startups. The city’s innovative ethos is enhanced by the creative minds at its prestigious universities and colleges, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, Northeastern University and Boston College. Groups have ample opportunities to experience Boston’s innovativeness before, during and after meetings. Here are some of the highlights.
Thriving Innovation District
Seaport Innovation DistrictThe introduction of innovation districts is a recent, progressive trend in urban planning. Intended to stimulate economic growth, they encourage collaboration, support mixed-use development, are wired for public Wi-Fi and are easily accessible via public transportation. Official innovation districts first emerged in Barcelona, Spain, and Boston. In May 2010, the late Mayor Thomas Menino announced plans to develop 1,000 acres on the South Boston Waterfront into an Innovation District. His plan was to redevelop the mostly abandoned Seaport District into the Seaport Innovation District, a hub for Information Age jobs and an area for cutting-edge industries such as health-care information technology, clean tech and mobile media. The $14.6 billion project has been implemented, and focuses on three key strategies. Urban lab: Use the land to experiment in areas including social infrastructure, clean energy, transportation and citizen participation. Sustainable leadership: Maximize present use of the land while ensuring sufficient resources for future generations. Shared innovation: Enable all Bostonians to benefit from the shared-idea economy and the products that emerge from the district. The Innovation District has been highly successful. It is the fastest-growing area in Boston and has stimulated the emergence of more than 200 new companies and 5,000 new jobs. Some 40 percent of businesses in the district share their work spaces. More than 1,100 housing units have been created, including 300 innovation micro-units. Boston’s Innovation District is a fascinating, stimulating place for forward-thinking groups to visit. Companies and buildings in the Innovation District—including the following—have developed new strategies, models and products, often while sharing work space and collaborating. MassChallenge is the world’s largest startup company accelerator, providing more than $2 million in grants to startup companies. Successful applicants are provided free shared office space, expert mentors, marketing and media resources. Factory 63 is a converted shoe factory that now accommodates small housing units for Innovation District residents. The units are less than 600 sq. ft. and are designed to encourage density and entrepreneurial collaboration. Factory 63 also provides low-priced office space for entrepreneurs and startups. The world’s first public innovation building, District Hall, provides civic gathering space where the innovation community gathers to exchange ideas. It houses open workspace, classrooms, assembly space and flexible-use pods. Most services and amenities are provided at little to no cost. In September 2015, Mayor Martin J. Walsh released a report that recommends the creation of additional innovation districts in Boston, particularly in the Dudley Square-Upham’s Corner District. The report also provides recommendations for all Boston neighborhoods, based on the successes in the Seaport District. Walking tours of South Boston’s Seaport, including the Innovation District, are offered by Boston by Foot. They aren’t on the public tour calendar this winter, but can be arranged as private tours. Other companies and organizations offer occasional tours of the area.
Institute of Contemporary Art/BostonGroups can experience much of the ingenuity by walking along the Seaport portion of The HarborWalk, a pedestrian path that hugs the waterfront connecting several neighborhoods. Along the way, they can enjoy Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, featuring cutting-edge exhibitions, music, dance, film, family activities and teen programming. Group tours are available.
Spirit of Boston CruisesSpirit of Boston Cruises offers excursions with spectacular views of the city, along with food, drinks, DJ entertainment and a variety of onboard activities. Corporate events can be arranged, including dinner cruises. Many unique restaurants have recently popped up in the Seaport District, including Empire Restaurant and Lounge, featuring Pan-Asian offerings, and Gather, a restaurant and bar overlooking Boston Harbor that serves inventive, modern American-inspired cuisine. Located in District Hall, it’s a popular hangout for Boston’s creative young minds.
John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention CenterBoston’s concerted effort to encourage and cultivate innovation is perhaps most clearly seen in the many cutting-edge conferences it hosts. BostInno was founded in 2008 as a community startup blog by Chase Garbarino, CEO and co-founder of Streetwise Media, and Kevin McCarthy, chief technology officer and co-founder. During the past four years, the publishing platform’s State of Innovation conference has served as a leading forum for conversations evaluating the key issues and trends facing Boston’s startup and business communities. It provides participants with candid commentary from the most influential thought leaders in the area’s fastest-growing sectors. The conference, which attracts more than 1,000 of Boston’s most prominent business leaders and young professionals, features stimulating keynotes, digital content and interactive panels. Last year, the summit was held on June 7 at The Westin Boston Waterfront, located adjacent to Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). MIT Sustainability Summit is a student-led event that takes place every year during Earth Week on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus. It attracts more than 350 attendees, ranging from professionals to academics and students. The summit features discussions with thought leaders and expert practitioners. “MIT is committed to accelerating research and outreach on topics of climate change and sustainability, and the MIT Sustainability Summit is the flagship event,” says Hanson Gong, co-managing director of the MIT Sustainability Summit. “In its ninth year, the summit will continue its tradition of convening cross-sectoral thinkers seeking to embed critical environmental and social issues into organizational discourse. “This year’s summit focuses on ‘Funding the Future’ and will explore the intersection of sustainability and finance. We believe the value created by the strategies discussed at the April 28, 2017 Summit can help accelerate capital allocations towards sustainable investments.” Innovation Enterprise Limited, a business media company specializing in enterprise innovation, shares its cross-industry knowledge with business communities through a combination of digital media and live summits. Businesses and organizations are provided with cutting-edge insights to drive growth in the rapidly changing business environment. Innovation Enterprise has scheduled six major events in Boston this year: CFO Rising East Summit, March 8–9; Data Visualization Summit and Risk Management Summit, Sept. 6–7; Internet of Things Summit and Big Data Innovation Summit, Sept. 7–8; and Product Innovation Summit, S&OP Innovation Summit and Open Innovation Summit, Sept. 20–21. B2B Marketing Forum brings together leaders, innovators and other people who make things happen to focus on the latest in B2B marketing and convey insights that can be used for successful marketing. The 11th annual show, which is organized by the MarketingProfs, will take place Oct. 3–6 at The Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. Hundreds of businesses, companies, investors and more gathered for Ceres Conference 2016 at Boston Park Plaza Hotel May 4–5. Ceres is a non-profit organization advocating for leadership in sustainability. The conference focused on how disruption is sweeping across the business world—from water and electric utility business models to the sharing economy, to how we receive and convey information. Ceres also zeroed in on how business sectors are adapting to 21st-century sustainability challenges and the roadblocks ahead to address threats on an increasingly crowded, connected and warming planet.
Cutting-Edge Meeting Facilities
Lawn on D Powered by Citizens BankDynamic, progressive change also can be seen in Beantown’s major meeting venues. Groups wanting to meet in the Seaport District often opt for the award-winning Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, which overlooks Boston Harbor and features spectacular city and water views. The hotel’s central location makes it easily accessible to Logan International Airport (BOS), the financial district and major city attractions. Seaport Hotel, one of the greenest hotels in North America, offers 428 guest rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and one of the city’s top health clubs. It provides more than 180,000 sq. ft. of eco-friendly, innovative meeting space—including seven ballrooms, 42 meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art amphitheater and dramatic outdoor spaces. John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, located 15 minutes from Logan International Airport in Boston’s historic Back Bay neighborhood, offers 176,480 sq. ft. of versatile exhibit space (including four exhibit halls) and 91,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, divided among 38 rooms. The convention center also contains a 24,544-square-foot ballroom and a 4,000-seat multipurpose auditorium with a built-in balcony. It provides the latest in technology and convention services, maintains a clean environment, promotes green practices and works to protect the environment around Boston’s two convention centers and city as a whole. The building has its own stop on the city’s MBTA public transportation line, known by locals as the “T.” Boston Convention and Exhibition Center features a modern, glass-lined interior and 2.1 million square feet of space. The 41,000-square-foot grand ballroom overlooks the Boston Seaport, offering breathtaking views. BCEC also has 516,000 sq. ft. of column-free, contiguous exhibit space and 160,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, divided among 82 rooms. BCEC uses green cleaning products, sources local food and beverage, composts food waste and increases diversion rates each year. The center minimizes power consumption through sensor-controlled utilities, high-efficiency lighting and strategies that minimize usage in unoccupied spaces. “Boston is leading the way with the most advanced meetings technology available in the industry,” says Steve Snyder, chief information officer for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. “We know that being connected is necessary for doing business and essential to our clients’ success. At both the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and Hynes Convention Center, we are continually investing in best-in-class technology for our customers, including free Wi-Fi access throughout both buildings with the ability to connect more than 35,000 devices simultaneously, a robust 10-gigabit fiber network, seamless cellular coverage and state-of-the-art digital displays. “At the heart of our technology leadership is a dedicated team of award-winning IT experts who have been recognized for their innovations and service excellence.” Lawn on D Powered by Citizens Bank, adjacent to BCEC, is an experimental event space designed to encourage engagement and foster creativity. It gives groups room to create exciting new event experiences outdoors.