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Innovation Nights business events help new products create buzz

Bobbie Carlton | 1/8/2014, 2:08 p.m.

The Boston region is the home of the original Innovation Nights events. It all started in April 2009 as Mass Innovation Nights with a website and a monthly event designed to help local innovators increase the buzz around new products and companies.

Every month, 10 companies bring new products to the event and the social media community turns out to blog, tweet, post pictures and video, add product mentions to LinkedIn and Facebook statuses, and otherwise help spread the word.

In the last two years, the events have helped to:

• Launch almost 600 products

• Connect dozens of job seekers and hiring managers

• Profile local experts

Held once a month, the events allow companies to show off Massachusetts-based innovation with networking and presentations. The Experts Corner team has one-on-one conversations with startups and entrepreneurs. Innovation Nights are held on-site at various venues that donate their space to further the cause of local innovation.

The events are usually held on the second Wednesday of each month. The next event is this Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Progress Software in Bedford, Mass. Registration and networking starts at 6 p.m. and presentations start showing at 7 p.m.

Innovation Nights have been held at many venues, including at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, the IBM Innovation Center, the Microsoft NERD Center, the MassChallenge Incubator, the offices of Continuum and VideoLink, CCR LLP, Clock Tower Place in Maynard, Mass., the Woburn TradeCenter 128, Space with a Soul, LogMeIn and the Quincy Innovation Center.

Last year, the organization celebrated its 500th product launch with a special event in May. Organizers say that among the first 500 companies to launch products at Innovation Nights there have been more than 20 mergers and acquisitions. In addition, the companies have collectively raised more than $600 million in funding (angel and venture capital) and created more than 600 new jobs.

Mass Innovation Nights is a “stone soup” event, referring to a folk story in which a stranger or small group of travelers comes upon a poor village. The travelers are hungry but everyone claims to have nothing to share. So the travelers create a fire, hang a pot of water over it and place a stone inside, telling one and all that they are creating “stone soup.” They suggest that it will taste better with a little something for flavoring — a carrot, a potato, maybe even a little piece of meat. Soon everyone in the village has contributed “just a little something” and everyone sits down to enjoy the wonderful feast.

Innovation Nights are like stone soup. Someone has a space where the event is held, with tables and wireless. Other companies have new products to promote. Others are social media mavens who can create buzz. Still others donate a few hours of their time and expertise. Regardless, all involved are able to benefit from the event that the community has created together.

For more information on Mass Innovation Nights visit http://www.mass.innovationnights.com