Where Will the AI Industry Plant Its Roots?

It May Not Be in Silicon Valley or New York.

From Zachary Ahlgrim 1/14/2019

When Americans think high tech, they usually think of Silicon Valley startups, North Carolina’s Research Triangle, and glitzy office buildings in downtown Manhattan. What if we told you there’s another major metropolitan area primed to become the artificial intelligence (AI) capital of the world? What if that city has a proven track record of fostering innovation in disruptive, life-changing industries? Boston could just be that city, and here’s why.

Boston is an epicenter of higher education.

While there are an estimated 9.5 million college students spread across the United States, more than 55 percent of these students are distributed among 52 metro areas.  More than a quarter of those students attend college or university in the nation’s 10 largest cities. Between New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston there are more than 2.5 million college students.

So, what sets Boston apart? While Beantown ranks fourth in terms of the aggregate number of students, many of the greater Boston area universities are leaders in the high-tech fields driving innovation. With schools such as Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and Boston University, it’s hard to think of another city with such a rich history of education and a deep pool of potential candidates to hire.

With access to some of the best universities producing top technical talent, companies in the AI space would be wise to consider Boston as they build out their teams.

Massachusetts has done this before.

If Boston manages to become the AI capital of the world, it wouldn’t be the first time Massachusetts uses a combination of tax incentives, regulatory oversight, and state funding, to bring new, high-tech industries to the state, but Boston wasn’t always considered to be a hub of movers and shakers creating the next wave of future tech.

In the early 1970s, and continuing through the late 80s, Boston was a computer industry mecca attracting some of the largest names like Digital Equipment, Data General, and Wang Laboratories. Despite this early growth, by the dawn of the 1990s, many of the largest tech firms had set out for the West, concentrating in California, with a special affinity for Silicon Valley.

This exodus of computing companies could have been devastating, but clever legislation and state grants would soon bring a new big industry to town. In 1976, legislators in Cambridge passed the United States first laws governing research as it related to recombinant DNA research. This legislation layed the foundation to attract some of the largest names in the life sciences industry to Massachusetts. In 1981, pharmaceutical giant Genzyme opened its doors in Massachusetts. Today, Massachusetts is home to Biogen, Pfizer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories and more.

Time and time again, the Bay State has shown its capacity to change and adapt to remain at the forefront of technological innovation. If past history is anything to go by, the Artificial Intelligence industry could find a home in Boston; many innovative startups already have.

There’s plenty of venture capital around.

Building the AI epicenter of the future will require not only the nation’s top minds and legislative help, but also the venture capital needed to grow the companies who will go on to be the leaders in the space. For startups looking to secure funding, there are plenty of venture capital firms in the Boston area looking for future disrupters in many high-tech industries.

With more than 150 venture capital firms located within the city, AI companies looking to fund their growth should consider setting up shop in Boston.

Working at an AI firm and looking to hire?

If you’re currently working in the artificial intelligence space and looking to hire, Black Diamond Networks wants to talk to you. As a leading provider of contract technical talent, BDN has worked persistently to find the most highly-specialized consultants for both Fortune 500 companies and small startups alike. Find the consulting talent you need at www.blackdiamondnet.com/find-talent.

Looking for a permanent hire? Contact our sister company, River Group Technologies, at 978.289.9790.