Project: vThread

Economic policymaking increasingly involves technology-based
initiatives. vTHREAD (Techno-Historical Regional Economic
Analysis Database) is a historical database of high tech
companies and research tools to deepen our understandings of
regional industrial specialization, growth, decline, and reinvention.
THREAD includes approximately 60,000 public and private,
nationally located high tech producers classified by a finely
granulated taxonomy (licensed from CorpTech which also supplies
the major company directory) in which 18 industry codes explode
to 300 major product codes, and to 3000 minor product codes.
THREAD is a database tool to ‘discover’ a region’s competitive
advantage and to characterize a region’s underlying technology
capabilities, deep craft skills, and cluster dynamics. It is a firm
specific, bottom-up approach to conduct technology audits and
technology roadmap exercises, to research skill needs, and to
anticipate technology trends.

The unique 15 year historical feature combined with 147 fields of
the database also offers the capability to generate reports on
company growth rates in employment and sales, evolution of
product profile, technology capabilities, executives, and changes
in company ownership (public/private, domestic/foreign). A
mapping feature is a tool to identify technology mini-clusters and to
characterize technology genealogy, industry churn measured by
the entry and exit of firms in specific technologies and locations.

Online publications that draw upon vTHREAD include “Discovering
Regional Competitive Advantage: Massachusetts High Tech”,
Business and Economic History On-Line, Vol. 2, 2004, pp. 1-30.,
“Lowell’s Industrial Regeneration: Dynamic Technological
Capabilities”, 2003; and
“Regional Specialization and Cluster Drivers: Medical Devices in
Massachusetts”. Business and Economic History On-Line, Vol. 3,
2005, pp. 1-35. http://www.thebhc.
org/publications/BEHonline/2005/beh2005.html . An earlier
version in MassBenchmarks, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2006: 14-25. On-line at

THREAD Report capabilities

1. Charts, tables, maps:

Regional distribution of high tech companies by industry, product,
size, and growth
Changing composition of high tech companies by region
Location quotients: enterprise, employment, and sales
Fast growing firms and clusters by technology and region
Clusters of high tech firms: size, evolution, and technology
Exit and entry rates of firms by industry, region, and year
Maps of high tech companies illustrating size and growth
Operating units of foreign headquartered companies by region
Export sales by region

2. Qualitative analysis:

Indicators of regional core competence
Characterization of mini-clusters by capability
Industry churn charts, assessing enterprise entries and exits
Company and technology genealogies by region
Company family trees indicated by changes in executive
Comparisons with official data on employment, sales, and growth
Custom mapping
Technology audit and roadmap reports
Cluster dynamics reports
Michael Best Technology Database: vTHREAD