When I was in Boston in January I started thinking about the notion of a Startup Neighborhood. In Boston, I found myself spending almost of my time in the Kendall Square neighborhood of Cambridge. It’s adjacent to MIT and defined by an incredibly high entrepreneurial density which I wrote about on the post I’m In Cambridge, Not Boston. A robust comment thread ensued and carried over to the repost on the BostInno blog.
While I’ve been using the phrase “Startup Community” to define a geographically bound but somewhat regionally non-specific area (e.g. not a city, not a state, not a province), I’ve never felt like “community” was the smallest relevant element. As I pondered the notion of a neighborhood, like Kendall Square (in Cambridge), or the Leather District (in Boston), or the Innovation District (in Boston), they are all part of the greater Boston startup community. But what should we call Kendall Square, the Leather District, or the Innovation District?
I love the phrase Startup Neighborhood. A cluster of Startup Neighborhoods can make up a Startup Community, which could also be (or not be) a Startup City or a Startup State. Neighborhoods are at the heart of this – the most atomic element in the build up to a Startup World.
Recently, I got an email from a team of folks at the MaRS Discovery District, a non-profit innovation centre, who have been working on an initiative to explore the startup ecosystem in Toronto and Ontario. They’ve defined a set of neighborhoods (ok – spelled “neighbourhoods” in Canada) and have created a very neat visualization of the clustering of startups in Toronto along with a quick analysis of where startups are located in the city and what draws some of them to particular neighbourhoods.