Lawmakers Celebrate Tech Leadership; MassTLC Calls for Increased Inclusion & Diversity Efforts in Tech

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128 Technologies CEO Andy Ory speaking at State House Innovation Day, January 2018

The Massachusetts TechHub Caucus, co-chaired by Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) and Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), welcomed a couple hundred industry leaders into the State House to interact with lawmakers at a marquee Innovation Day focused on key megatrends and the future of tech in Massachusetts.

“We appreciate the opportunity to host a discussion with tech leaders and public officials here at the State House,” noted Representative Ferrante in a statement. “We are fortunate to have so much talent in Massachusetts, and the tech community is driving trends that are making a positive impact on our communities. I look forward to continuing an ongoing dialogue that will foster an even stronger innovation economy here in Massachusetts.”

“The TechHUB Caucus plays a critical role in bringing together innovators from around the Commonwealth with policymakers, helping forge a deeper understanding and openness between the two groups,” said Tim Connelly, CEO/Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the public economic development agency tasked with growing the innovation economy in Massachusetts.

Andy Ory, Founder and CEO of 128 Technology, a firm that has developed a platform that addresses networking challenges by natively providing network based security, control and insight across enterprises, gave an impassioned keynote address on the state’s history, authentic strengths and a few prescriptions for the future.

MassTLC CEO Tom Hopcroft, who co-chairs the TechHub Caucus Working Group with Verizon New England President Donna Cupelo, noted in his remarks that bringing the tech community to the State House is “a critical step in forming relationships, educating our lawmakers, and shining a spotlight on how these innovators and innovations are fueling much of the Commonwealth’s economic growth.” He cautioned that, if we are to continue to lead, we must develop smart policies that drive equity and inclusion as well as economic growth.

Hopcroft noted that the quality of the talent pool is the number reason companies choose to locate in Massachusetts, but that an inability to hire enough skilled talent is the number on constraint to growth. He remarked that the tech sector is 71% white and 3/4 of those are male, and that progress was not happening at an acceptable rate. To reach today’s participation level of white males, he noted, it would take Hispanics until 2046, Women until 2071, and African Americans until 2086.

He called on industry and lawmakers to do more to reach women and communities of color such that everyone can have the opportunity to participate in an economy that pays twice the state average. He said that it is not just a question of fairness & equity, but economic imperative. He closed asking for people to consider that, for every person we can’t hire here, tech companies will hire for the role elsewhere, taking a critical job plus 2-3 support jobs out of state.

The program was also about celebrating the innovations and opportunities coming out of the tech sector. “Massachusetts is fortunate to have a thriving innovation sector.  A strong ecosystem of innovators – from startups to large enterprises – is revolutionizing how we live and work,” said Donna Cupelo, Region President of Verizon New England and who co-chair of the TechHub Caucus Working Group.  “Verizon understands firsthand how important it is to foster a culture of innovation that is driving trends and fueling economic growth for our state, our region and our nation.”

About two dozen innovative companies set up demos at the event and six were honored with awards for their accomplishments. “Today was a terrific opportunity to explore what is possible thanks to the innovations of the businesses propelling Massachusetts forward,” said TechHUB Caucus co-chair Senator Spilka. “The winners of the NextGEN awards are transforming the future of technology and driving the next generation of economic growth.”

The inaugural group of NextGEN Awards winners were recognized for a variety of distinguishing criteria, including: disruptive technology, rapidly scaling operations in Massachusetts, demonstrating best practices in diversity hiring, and having impact on a regional economy in the Commonwealth. The NextGEN Award winners include:

Companies that exhibited at the State House included: 128 TechnologyAUVSIBounce ImagingCiscoGreenSight Agronomics, Idea-A-Thon, Locus RoboticsMachine MetricsNextShift RoboticsOnduoOptimus RidePartners Connected Health InnovationsPivotalRaytheonRiptide Autonomous SolutionsSolid EnergyTech Goes HomeTulip InterfacesVerizon, and the Center for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

View news report from 22 News WWLP, the NBC Affiliate in Springfield, MA.