David Brown is the first Vice President of Innovation Leadership for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. In his new role, Brown plans to facilitate growth and opportunities for Boston companies and entrepreneurs at all stages.
Previously, Brown served as the Executive Director of Technology Underwriting Greater Good and as an Industry Champion and lead mentor for MassChallenge.
MedTech Boston: What are your immediate goals in your new role?
David Brown: Right now we’re looking at figuring out how the chamber, which has been a great resource for the business community here in Boston, continues to expand its reach for the innovation community—healthcare companies, tech companies, travel/tourism, entrepreneurs of all kinds. How do we involve all of them in the ecosystem we’ve created? On the short term we’re actually spending a good amount of time figuring out what the needs of that community are and how we can adequately support and help grow those organizations and companies.
In which specific areas of Boston’s technology and innovation sector do you think your work is needed the most?
Because it’s a system of businesses working with and helping other businesses, I think we’re relevant and supportive for all of them. I personally come from the tech startup community as well as the healthcare startup community, so I can see a lot of the needs and services that we provide fitting very well into both ecosystems. We’ve also certainly seen travel and tourism becoming a major part of the business ecosystem here in Boston—it’s our third largest ecosystem—we’re looking at how we can support programs and entrepreneurs in that realm as well.
What will be the role of the Greater Boston Innovation Economy Leadership Council?
We’re looking at thought leaders both from the early stage as well as the later stage innovation community across all those different sectors to really come together to talk about the needs of the community, the direction the community is heading, how the resources we already have can be supportive, as well as what resources we need to continue to develop. It’s really a group of thought leaders who are pulling together and will hopefully be able to announce some really exciting news on that front not too far from now.
How will you “promote opportunities and develop strategies for greater participation of women, minorities, and young professionals in the Chamber and in Greater Boston’s growing innovation economy”?
It’s really important for us as a business community to work with entrepreneurs of all kinds and all sizes. We don’t want to just look at the businesses in the downtown core of Boston, but the entrepreneurs who are coming up with businesses in every part of the sector. We’re actually in the process of hiring a Director of Inclusion who will be helping to spearhead a lot of those initiatives.
We’re working on a committee that will be tied into the innovation side of looking at issues of inclusion and minority owned businesses. We’re very fortunate that the Chamber already has a very strong female leadership group. It’s Boston’s most active female leadership community, and we’re continuing to look at how we can expand services and relationships for that group.
How will your experience with MassChallenge influence your role in the Chamber?
I was lucky enough to be housed out of MassChallenge and I’ve been running their social innovation track for four years. We’re very fortunate to see a lot of these very innovative companies coming through at very early stages in all sectors.
They do a really good job with health care, with tech startups, and social innovation companies. It’s been very helpful in terms of my own vision for what are some of the needs of that community. But as I continue to work with them [MassChallenge] it helps cross-define and cross-collaborate what those opportunities are going to look like. I’ve been working with Scott Bailey already to think about overlap programs and projects that we’ll be hosting and how the Chamber can continue to expand the value proposition that they’re offering and continue to make Boston a very competitive space for businesses of all kinds from all over the world.
Alexandra David is a senior at Boston University studying journalism. She was the City Editor of the Daily Free Press and has worked for the IDG News Service and LeadingAge. Her passions include social justice, Boston, and, of course, journalism. Her hobbies include reading (like a good writer) and watching documentaries.
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