May and June are the months for entrepreneurship and technology conferences. I just returned from TiECON www.tiecon.org in silicon valley. I was pleasantly surprised at the attendance and generally upbeat mood of the participants. I did not see much change from last year, other than how many "in-between gigs" there were among my friends. There was considerable excitement about mobile applications with the iPhone clearly the trendsetter. There was also much discussion about cleantech though there was much angst about whether the ITC VC model is appropriate for cleantech. TiECON East in Boston, www.tieconeast.com, started yesterday with a rousing speech from Tim Cahill, Treasurer of Massachusetts. The hall was packed and the mood was generally upbeat.
We have attracted two conferences to Boston University (BU) back-to-back in June. On June 24 we have the BU Office of Technology Development/Xconomy event http://www.xconomy.com/boston/xsite2009/, followed on June 25 by http://whatsnext.eventbrite.com/ sponsored by BU Institute of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization/Future Forward. Both events feature Boston-area entrepreneurs and VCs and will address the gnawing question: where is job-growth going to come from in New England. Greylock moving its headquarters to silicon valley is symbolic of this area's relative decline in the ICT industry.
As in the past fifty years, sustainable job growth will be driven by technology startup activity. The combination of ambitious, technology savvy university graduates combined with smart capital is a huge advantage for Massachusetts. 55% of PhDs in Engineering are foreign-born. It is imperative that these skilled immigrants be encouraged to stay in Massachusetts, especially in startup companies. I have joined hands with my colleage Vivek Wadhwa at Duke/Harvard to continue his work to influence the skilled immigration debate in favor of entrepreneurship. It is time we created a "startup green card" with preference given to any foreign-born entrepreneur educated in the U.S. and working at a startup for at least three years. Stay tuned for early results from this BU/Duke/Kauffmann Foundation study to be published later this summer.