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The Spirit of Innovation Award Gala

This year we honor "The Boston Associates," an industrial dynasty that transformed America.

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The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation has been conferring the Spirit of Innovation Award on regional business luminaries annually since 2014.

This year the Charles River Museum returns to the very foundation of its existence, first by renaming the award itself the Francis Cabot Lowell Spirit of Innovation Award, and then by honoring, with the 2017 Award, The Boston Associates.

Francis Cabot Lowell (1775-1817), a shipping merchant by trade, developed and pursued a vision for the rapid industrialization of the United States through fully integrated and mechanized textile mills, which he and a number of partners piloted at the Boston Manufacturing Company (1813-1930) on the banks of the Charles River in Waltham Massachusetts.

Lowell’s partners—who would together be dubbed “The Boston Associates” over a century later by historian Vera Shlakman—early on included Patrick Tracy Jackson, Nathan Appleton, Israel Thorndike, Uriah Cotting, Christopher Gore, and of course, Paul Moody.

They would recognize the potential of the Waltham business model and extend it after his death to East Chelmsford—later renamed Lowell in Francis’ honor—and soon after Manchester, Saco, Chicopee, Lawrence, Holyoke and beyond. Notable others joining the Boston Associates would include Samuel Batchelder, Kirk Boot, Amos and Abbott Lawrence, John Amory Lowell, Thomas Perkins, Willard Sayles, and more.

We are honored and thrilled to celebrate the achievements of this inspired, early group of great American innovators. Their collaborative vision and hard work work translated into a huge advance for the United States, transforming and strengthening New England and America by rapidly accelerating the young nation’s transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy.

The Boston Associates established a thriving textile industry and a supporting business ecosystem that included canals, railroads, banks, and insurance companies—and their progressive employment practices and philanthropy (they founded or were substantial forces behind the Boston Athenaeum, Massachusetts General Hospital, Perkins School for the Blind, and more) are models of corporate social responsibility today.

Please join us for a festive and inspiring evening illuminating and celebrating a crucial and magnificent early chapter of American history.

The past winners of the Spirit of Innovation Award are Arthur H. Nelson in 2014, Lou Nocera in 2015, and The W.H. Nichols Company and Family in 2016.

This event is a fundraiser for the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, a museum of the American Industrial Revolution, residing in the historic Francis Cabot Lowell Mill on the banks of the iconic Charles River in Waltham, Massachusetts.