Northeastern joins weeklong innovation festival


Paxtyn Merten, Julia Preszler

Northeastern University hosted a hackathon, showcased a few startup companies at an event and had Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun speak at a public discussion on the future of innovation as it participated as a first-time sponsor and partner of HUBweek.

HUBweek is a weeklong series of 120 free and low cost events celebrating innovation in the areas of art, science and technology.

Beginning Sept. 25, HUBweek has hosted events in and around Boston, in places such as Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Faneuil Hall and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to name a few. These will continue through Oct. 1.

“HUBweek is a festival for the future,” HUBweek spokesperson Liz Paquette said. “The purpose of this is to showcase and celebrate the future that is being built here in Boston.”

Aoun spoke at “The Future of Boston Tech Careers” – a roundtable that featured HubSpot CEO and Founder Brian Halligan and co-founder and entrepreneur-in-residence at the MIT Martin Trust Center Donna Levin, according to the event’s website.

“It’s our job to tell people to explore every opportunity that they want to explore, and then some will fail and some will succeed,” Aoun said during the roundtable.

Northeastern hosted hackathon “Data Science, Journalism and the Future of Justice,” as another part of HUBweek on Wednesday.

Northeastern student ventures Hylux, New Ground Foods and Therapeutic Innovations will participate in HUBweek’s Demo Day, McDonald said in an email to The News.

Demo Day will showcase more than 100 startups and companies in the Greater Boston area, on Friday at the Hynes Convention Center, according to the HUBweek website.

“As a global research university driven by innovation, with a community filled with change makers, our participation in HUBweek is a natural fit,” McDonald said.

HUBweek was founded by the Boston Globe, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT.

This year, HUBweek partnered with 130 organizations to host 120 events, according to Paquette.

Partners ranged from national companies such as Uber and Google to local groups like the Roxbury Innovation Center, a local innovation-promoting work space.

Roxbury Innovation Showcase was held at the local innovation center on Monday. Attendees of this event learned about Imagine Boston 2030, a city initiative to collect public input about city planning, and then used Legos to envision how they would like certain fringe neighborhoods in Boston to look by 2030.

The showcase featured a Taste of Roxbury, a spread of food from restaurants in the Roxbury neighborhood such as Beta Burger, Dudley Café and Dudley Dough.

Annie Deng and Kusaundria Wallace, both seniors at Another Course to College, a college preparatory high school in Hyde Park, displayed their bow tie invention, which they created through the BUILD Boston program.

“Our product is called B-Ties,” Deng said. “It’s a bow tie that you can wear in three different ways. You can wear it as a necklace, in your hair and as a regular clip-on bow tie.”

Two of HUBweek’s other events featured Berlin-based artist Ethan Hayes-Chute, who creates installations – 3D creations which transform an existing space – as well as sculptures, drawings, text pieces and performances, and who currently has an exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Hayes-Chute held an interactive workshop Monday and gave a presentation on his art Tuesday.

He combines these to create his cabin scenes in the theme of self-sufficiency and improvising. He forms his art around the existing shape of the space he builds it in and decorates accordingly with whatever materials he can find.

His exhibition at MIT is like a simplified wood cabin/shed and features “spice blends” which consist of various “granular items” such as glitter, pebbles and beads, according to the event website. Hayes-Chute created these blends in collaboration with other artists and people, and invited attendees of his interactive art workshop to create and name another blend with their own items.

Hayes-Chute builds full or partial cabins out of items scavenged from loading docks, junk yards, secondhand-stores and other locations.

Wrentham, Massachusetts resident and MIT alumna Betsy Connors attended his presentation after attending another HUBweek event earlier in the week, which featured an artist in residency who created a piece of art based on her experiences exploring the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

“I am an artist who uses science, so they have a lot of that going on so I am interested in seeing what other people are doing and what other institutes are doing,” Connors said.

Charlestown resident Mary Leen also attended Hayes-Chute’s presentation and said she attended HUBweek last year as well.

“I am interested in HUBweek because convening people and exploring different topics and themes seems like a good way to bring people together across the city,” Leen said.

The first installation of HUBweek took place in October 2015 and approximately 46,000 people attended, Paquette said. The number of registered attendees is expected to be smaller this year, since there are fewer events that do not require registration.

About 80 percent of the HUBweek events are free, and paid events cost no more than $30, Paquette said.

“One of our big missions is to be an incredibly inclusive festival—something that we’re continuing to strive for and aim for,” Paquette said.

Photo by Alex Melagrano