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Tech Council Seeks to Define NHs Tech Ecosystem
 
Published Friday, March 10, 2017
by MATTHEW J. MOWRY


Toral Cowieson at the TechOut competition. Courtesy of the NH High Tech Council.


While her work as a senior director of internet leadership at the Internet Society in Virginia takes her across the globe and far from her NH home, Toral Cowieson is now bringing her expertise to the Granite State as chair of the NH High Tech Council. Elected in May, she will be leading a big initiative this spring to help define NH’s tech ecosystem.

Cowieson, who joined the council’s board in January 2015, says the NH High Tech Council wants to convene stakeholders from the business community, academia and government at a summit this year to define NH’s tech ecosystem and develop a common lexicon when leaders discuss ways to support it.

“We put that question to some influencers and guess what? There is no common definition,” Cowieson says. “Convening the summit is the first step, and getting those voices together will drive the collective action plan.”

Having a plan in place is critical, she says, as the sector faces major challenges, including a talent shortage, that some communities traditionally known as tech hubs are expensive and NH salaries do not keep up with housing costs.

Another challenge is to make sure that ecosystem is interconnected as NH has geographic silos, she says. “I think we have a mindset in the population that something is too far,” she says, such as people in Manchester and Portsmouth not willing to travel the 50 minutes in between. “We are a small state. How can we build a common understanding to bridge geographic silos and … to establish New Hampshire as a tech hub.”

The Tech Council also wants to address how, as a small state, NH can provide the range of services and resources needed to support both startups and established enterprises. She says it is also looking to market the state to attract more tech companies.

Cowieson says the council and its members have established a solid foundation for exploring the three Rs that need to be addressed: reach (how to expand and market NH’s tech ecosystem), relevancy (the council’s value proposition) and return (the impact the council can have in the state).

She notes the council presented 55 events last year, and it is reviewing which yielded the best outcomes for members.  That includes rolling out Tech Out 2.0 this year—a new version of its successful startup funding competition.

For more information, visit nhhtc.org.


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