International Expert Now

July 15, 2013

Had the opportunity last month to check out the latest in sophisticated clean technology. Turns out its the simple bike. Nice overview here on the best conference I’ve ever been too. Velo-city Vienna attracted 1,400 people from 40 countries. Here’s proof (at about 2:40) that I was there. Yeah, big deal.



Promoting Dialogue: Energy & Environment

May 15, 2013

As chair of the Sustainability Forum I thought this connection would be good for us on the North Shore. Lots of work being done in clean-tech and other areas of innovation here. Happy to make this North Shore opportunity happen:

On Wed, May 22, the North Shore Technology Council’s Business Breakfast will feature Secretary Richard K. Sullivan of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Secretary Sullivan will provide us an update on the State’s progress and objectives. No doubt there will be good questions from the audience. This promises to be great breakfast and an important opportunity to share our North Shore commitment to energy, innovation and our unique resources.

Secretary Sullivan, Massachusetts Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs

You can register online at NSTC here.  Or contact me. Bring a friend.


Good Press from Gloucester Times

March 7, 2013

North Shore NonProfits Seek “Sustainability”

By Alanah Percy

From the installment of wind turbines in Gloucester and Ipswich to the development of devices for detecting early stage cancer, local entrepreneurs on the North Shore are busy when it comes to clean technology.

“Sustainability is a big issue and we try and stay on top of it,” said John Coulbourn, chair of the Sustainability Forum at the Cummings Center in Beverly.

Coulbourn’s group is one of many comprising the North Shore Technology Council (NSTC), a multifaceted nonprofit dedicated to promoting sustainable technology and growth on the North Shore. Run by volunteers and funded by corporate sponsors, the Council connects with the community through frequent forums, panels and networking events each month.

The group collaborates with laypeople and leading educators, technologists and environmentalists to network and learn about new initiatives in monthly meetings opened to the community. The next gathering will take place on Wednesday, March 6 at 8 a.m. at the Cummings Center in Beverly. (Details can be found here)

“It’s all about information when it comes to sustainability: the more we have the better off we’ll be,” said Coulbourn who also serves on the advisory board North Shore Innoventures (NSIV). NSIV, also located in the Cummings Center, is an incubator fostered through NSTC, according to Dr. Martha Farmer, the CEO and president of Innoventures. The organization was designed to mentor and assist entrepreneurs, and engages with the community through clean technology.

North Shore Innoventures Tech Incubator

Pictured, from left, are Dr. Marty Farmer, pres. of North Shore InnoVentures; Dr. Carl Safina, Blue Ocean Institute; Tom Kinneman, VP, NSIV; John Coulbourn; Eric Graham, Next Step Living & NSIV; and Eric Groft, NSIV.

Read more of the Gloucester Times article here.



The simplest clean tech: bikes

January 26, 2013

Sometimes we get so caught-up in our own particular perspective.  So, please excuse us if we assume you know what we’re talking about when we talk about bikes.  These days any particular interest or preference can be super-focused and magnified by an entire world of fellow (and expert) aficionados. It’s easy to think that we all think alike.

You probably have your own special interests. The internet is a monster magazine rack on the back-side of a wormhole.  It’s 2.1 billion people creating 100,000 tweets, 27,700 tumblr posts, 48 hours of YouTube video and 571 new websites – every minute — of every day. Boy, it’s easy to get distracted.

Ipswich River Media: Why bikes?
But we’ve gotten engaged with a world of bike enthusiasts that’s way beyond the travails of Lance Armstrong and mountain bike videos. Check out LovelyBicycle, for example, there’s a New England neighbor who writes about biking the way James Beard writes about food.  We’ve “met” Byron of TokyoByBike, Mike of BikeBlogNYC. There’s Cleverhood, a small company (and client) inventing US-made outwear for livable cities. And we’ve been indoctrinated by the teachings of Mikael Colville of Copenhagen Chic fame, the slow bike movement and the helmet law argument.

It turns out that the simple bike is the key to happiness. Perhaps you knew that once. Kelly McClure over at Vice Magazine said the bike conjured visions of her pink Strawberry Shortcake bike. In our neighborhood we’d mount our bikes to discover new territory. They were our imaginary jets.

Livable Cities
Now that we’re all grown up we’re starting to re-learn the whole bike thing all over again. Bikes are a way of living, says “Bikes are a way to get around town, to relax, to have adventures, and to stay happy and healthy. And every time we pedal our way forward, we not only get to where we’re going, but we also show the rest of the world just how powerful human power really can be.”

It’s more than just that fact that traffic congestion wastes nearly 3 billion gallons of gas per year in the U.S. Or that, for every 1 mile pedaled rather than driven, about 1 pound of CO² is saved. Hey, we love traffic jams as much as you do.

It’s about re-thinking cities. In NYC, Mayor Bloomberg gets it. He appointed Janette Sadik-Khan as transportation commissioner. She loves bikes (and she has a Cleverhood, btw). Around the world, cities are closing down car lanes and opening new bike sharing programs. We’re re-thinking our relationship with cars and just how are cities got this way.

So, when we talk about bikes we’re talking about all the people we’re meeting all over the world who care about creating more livable cities.


Collaborating to Create Technology & Jobs

January 1, 2013

Here’s what we’re talking about: 1) Clean technology development; 2) Job creation; 3) Collaboration. Nice hit for North Shore Innoventures. Proud to be part of the leadership team. Looking for more success in 2013.

Beverly Incubator Grows Life Science, Clean Tech Start-ups

The Boston Globe
By Kathy McCabe /  December 26, 2012

BEVERLY — In 2008, when the economy plunged into recession, North Shore InnoVentures launched a business technology incubator to stimulate growth in the emerging life sciences and clean technology sectors.

It was a risky move. Biotech and clean energy firms require big dollars and brain capital. Banks are reluctant to lend ­money to start-ups without a proven track record of sales. With biotech incubators popping up in Boston and Cambridge, competition was intense to lure enterprising scientists and engineers.

But leaders of the North Shore Technology Council, which created the nonprofit incubator, thought the region had more to lose if it did not try to catch the Bay State’s tech wave.

North Shore Innoventures“We had to be proactive,” said Martha Farmer, a founder and chief executive of InnoVentures, located at the Cummings Center in Beverly. “We didn’t have any idea how well we’d do. We thought if we created 50 local jobs, we’d be quite successful.”

The incubator has taken more than ­baby steps. A total of 23 early-stage companies so far have been nurtured in its spacious office and laboratory space. Entre­preneurs are researching drugs to cure cancer, developing medical devices to calm nerve tremors, and testing energy conservation measures.

In the last two years, nine firms have raised a total of $25 million in private equity, mostly through individual investors, venture capital firms, or government and private grants.

A total of 115 jobs have been created across the companies, Farmer said. “That’s pretty good for our little operation.”

The progress comes as life sciences looms larger on the region­al employment horizon. The North Shore Workforce Invest­ment Board is surveying local firms to determine what skills are required to land a job in the promising field.

Keep reading here at


Information & Graphics

December 18, 2012

Infographics, like graphic novels, speak to the value of imagery in communicating. They’re gaining steam with people with limited attention spans and lots to do – like me, for example. Great tool for you to consider. Impart information in a way that’s fun for your reader. Have a personality, be engaging — communications-wise.

Bonus: here are some easy ways to pull it off.



Work Inspiration

September 19, 2012

Dr Carl Safina, head of the Blue Ocean Institute stopped by to admire the work being done at North Shore Innoventures. That’s the clean tech incubator I provide communications support for.

Carl is a keen reporter on our world’s oceans. He’s the author of 6 books and roughly 200 scientific and popular publications, including features in The New York Times, and National Geographic. This fall his new PBS series “Saving the Ocean” starts. You may’ve seen him on the Colbert Report too.

Carl provides inspiration for the work I do at NSIV and as chairman of the Sustainability Forum. Same for Cleverhood, where our team is creating US-made products for the slow bike movement. As Carl puts it, “inspiration is the urge to act.”

Today at the  North Shore Technology Council breakfast, he outlined a number of concerns he sees from his view off “Lazy Point” – a wide perspective that runs from the Arctic to Antarctica and oceans in between. He has a deep understanding of the way people are changing our planet.  Yet, he’s very positive — and inspiring.

Carl’s concerned that we’re taking the future for our own use.  He can back it up. A big part of the problem, the moral challenge, is our energy use.  We’ve raised CO2 levels 30% in the just the past 200 years. And we’re decimating ocean life.

The plan was to take Carl kayaking off Plum Island. Unfortunately, forecasts of 45 knot gusts meant we’d have to postpone our trip.  But he’ll be back and we’ll renew plans to get out on the water again.



Up Close with the Ocean this Summer

September 10, 2012
Ten Pound Island

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Communications: Simply Put

July 13, 2012

Technology. Clean Technology. Sustainability. Slow bike movement. Media and communications.

The premise here is that clear, effective communications today is best served with a pay-off. Regardless, of whether you’re selling sophisticated technology for business users or something more practical for everyday.  Ensure that people get some pay-off from listening to you. Keep your writing sharp and relevant. Offer interesting, valuable insights. Develop a personality.

Here, IRM developed a cool vid for a product built in the USA. It’s a fashionable garment with high-performance features that works great with bikes. And bikes help make cities more livable. That’s smart sustainability. And, culturally, just as important as sophisticated clean technology.

If for no other reason, watch this vid to catch the music of Red Sonia. She’s also a bike messenger and Toronto’s Fastest Female Alleycat.



Sustainability: Bike Simple

May 8, 2012
Ipswich River Media

Bike lights, big city

Get to know the Slow Bike movement if you care about livable cities and sustainability. Clean-tech innovation is exciting and important. But the beauty of this movement is its elegant simplicity.  Like an iceberg, there’s more to it than you think.

Sure, biking is healthy.  You’ve seen cyclists on open roads with precision touring bikes and flashy outfits. They’re usually in great shape. But city bikers are commuters, shoppers and explorers. They come in all shapes and sizes.  They reduce traffic and noise, cut carbon emissions, spur greater interest in cityscapes and buy locally. A bike is cheap to operate and burns fat; a car costs lots of money to run and creates fat.

Employers are responding with storage areas for bikes. It’s a competitive advantage and keeps healthcare costs in check.

I just got back from the NYC Bike Expo and I’m here to report that New York is gaining on Copenhagen and Amsterdam when it comes to this powerful new movement. It has big political implications; Mayor Bloomberg is firmly committed. There are separate bike lanes on streets and avenues, not to mention paths that circle Manhattan.

There’s further anticipation surrounding the NYC bike-share program. It’s not for tourists, there are rental services for that. Privately funded, it’s a self-service system that offers 10,000 bikes in 600 stations for quick, easy transportation.

One simple definition of sustainability is “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems.” That’s reflected in a city of bike-riders. But sustainability is also a call to action, a task in progress or “journey” and therefore a political process.  This requires the reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands – the “three pillars” of sustainability.

The Slow Bike Movement may seem as simple as an upright bike. But it means big things for livable cities.