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March Conference will Help Grow Merrimack Valley Economy

Submitted by on February 12, 2013 – 4:33 pm

John Harthorne, founder and CEO of MassChallenge, will be the keynote speaker at Haverhill's Open Innovation Cluster.

Northern Essex Community College together with the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and the Haverhill Horizons Hardware Challenge will host the Open Innovation Conference 2013 on Wednesday, March 20 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Northern Essex Community College Technology Center located at 100 Elliott St. in Haverhill, MA.

Business, community, and educational leaders are encouraged to attend the conference, which will initiate the development of an open innovation cluster in the Merrimack Valley.

“We want to enhance our local and regional competitiveness so that we can increase business and economic development in Haverhill and the Merrimack Valley,” said Mayor James Fiorentini of Haverhill, who sees the establishment of a regional ecosystem of stakeholders to innovate better and faster as the key to future growth.

Sven Amirian, president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce concurs: “To succeed, a region needs a critical mass of entrepreneurs and talented workers, a strong education network, collaborative business practices and tools, as well as access to capital resources and local and global markets.” He went on to say that the Chamber hopes to play a major role in matchmaking for partnerships.

John Harthorne, founder and CEO of MassChallenge, the largest-ever start-up accelerator and competition, will be the first of two keynote speakers at the event.

Jon Frederickson, vice president of InnoCentive, will be the second keynote speaker. InnoCentive enables corporations and government organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace.

“We want to be the first region in the United States to adopt open innovation as a business practice and to establish a regional ecosystem that will enable companies to systematically reach out to external entrepreneurs and problem solvers for ideas to complement their internal research and development capabilities. John Harthorne and Jon Frederickson will share their globally-recognized expertise on how to leverage ideas from entrepreneurs and problem solvers, respectively,” said John Michitson, who is organizing the conference with a host of business and community partners.

The evening’s program will also include panel discussions on business practices and tools needed for open innovation as well as two-minute overviews from each of the six finalists in the Haverhill Hardware Horizons Challenge on their innovative products.

A business concept developed by Henry Chesbrough of UC Berkeley, open innovation brings together internal R&D talent with entrepreneurial partners to share expertise and intellectual property for rapid co-development of products and services.

This conference is designed to unite Merrimack Valley partners—including entrepreneurs and startups, students and universities, government leaders, investors, and established companies. “The teamwork up in the Haverhill area exactly matches the MassTech view that our economic vitality is tied to optimizing engagements between industry, academia and government as we drive for competitive advantage in robotics, Big Data, advanced manufacturing and nanotechnologies,” said Patrick Larkin, Director of MassTech’s Innovation Institute.

To learn more or inquire about sponsorships, contact John Michitson,

To register, visit the Haverhill Chamber website

View the event flyer.