In the wake of losing several innovative companies to Silicon Valley, Boston’s so-called Innovation District got two shots in the arm this week.
Days after RelayRides became the fourth local rising star start-up to move west in the past few months, Oasys Water announced it will move from Cambridge to the former South Boston industrial district city officials hope will attract tech start-ups that can retain young professionals after college graduation.
Officials also announced plans to build a 21-story, $150-million apartment complex in the Fort Point Channel.
“Obviously, Silicon Valley has a long history of start-up activity,” said Aaron Mandell, 35, CEO of Oasys, which produces water purification technologies. “I actually think there’s a real renaissance going on in Boston right now, especially around clean tech.”
But RelayRides founder Shelby Clark said local investors don’t take as much risk as West Coast investors.
“I do think companies will want to stay in Boston,” said Clark, 28, whose company helps customers rent their personal cars to neighbors. “But I feel like the West Coast has a much more open and experimental mentality, whereas Boston and the East Coast have a more conservative mentality.”
Greg Gomer of the tech news blog BostInnovation said the recent exodus to San Francisco signals Boston’s emergence as a real threat to Silicon Valley.
“The biggest thing is you’re starting to see Silicon Valley in a fight for talent,” he said. “It’s not alarming; it’s Silicon Valley realizing how strong Boston companies are, and they are trying to poach them.”