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innovation DAILY

Here we highlight selected innovation related articles from around the world on a daily basis.  These articles related to innovation and funding for innovative companies, and best practices for innovation based economic development.

Emergent Energy Group has received the Babson College Student Business of the Year Award (SBYA).

Emergent plans, designs, and facilitates the advancement of community-based alternative energy projects and sustainable ventures. Its services help public and private entities to assess their existing renewable energy resources, and to optimize their energy portfolios into the future. http://emergentgroup.com/

Runner-up business in the SBYA competition is ThinkLite LLC, a company created in an effort to help Americans go green without the green price tag. It is an energy efficiency firm dedicated to helping communities, businesses, and homes save money on monthly energy bills while saving the environment.  http://www.thinklite.net/

The Student Business of the Year Award, established in 1959, is presented by the Babson College Alumni Association in recognition of an undergraduate student’s outstanding commitment to launching and operating a successful enterprise while pursuing an education. Selection is based on initiative, character, originality, persistence and success, with emphasis on the learning experience. Winners exemplify Babson’s entrepreneurial tradition.  For more information, visit http://www3.babson.edu/Events/studentventuring/sbya.cfm

The Student Business of the Year Award presentation was among Babson’s Celebrating Student Venturing events this year.

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SethGodin Twitter 640 The latest hot trend in social media: leaving itHow many social media channels do you actively participate in?

If you’re one of the millions who have caught the social media wave in the past few years, there is a decent chance that you or someone you know felt pressured to climb aboard for fear of being left behind or mocked by the cool kids as being out of touch.

It’s a reasonable concern, especially for business people who have enough on their plate without feeling compelled to microupdate and engage at all hours of the day and night with whomever is up for a chinwag on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Skype, blog comments, instant message, email and so on.

The truth is, depending on how efficiently you manage your time and how much of it others demand of you, the number of online platforms in which you can actively participate is quite limited. “Actively participate” does not mean merely broadcasting your blog’s RSS feed. It means taking the time to make connections, to discuss ideas, to help others – to share the love.

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washingtonpost.comThis country runs on innovation. The American success story -- from Ben Franklin's bifocals to Thomas Edison's light bulb to Henry Ford's assembly line to today's advanced microprocessors -- is all about inventing our future. The companies we ran, Microsoft and DuPont, were successful because they invested deeply in new technologies and new ideas.

But our country is neglecting a field central to our national prospect and security: energy. Although the information technology and pharmaceutical industries spend 5 to 15 percent of their revenue on research and development each year, U.S. companies' spending on energy R&D has averaged only about one-quarter of 1 percent of revenue over the past 15 years.

And despite talk about the need for "21st-century" energy sources, federal spending on clean energy research -- less than $3 billion -- is also relatively small. Compare that with roughly $30 billion that the U.S. government annually spends on health research and $80 billion on defense research and development.

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This week, the American of Institute of Architects and its Committee on the Environment announced the 10 best green buildings completed in the past year. It's filled with all manner of green technologies--from passive heating and cooling using heat pumps, to man-made wetlands, to reclaimed materials. Here's a slideshow of all ten.

355 11th Street by Aidlin Darling Design. It's hard to tell, but the building was once a 100-year-old, derelict industrial warehouse. But the site happened to sit on the National Register of Historical Places--meaning the architects had to replicate the area of metal cladding and windows on the former building, in new materials.

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BusinessWeek Logo On a recent morning, a half-dozen young software engineers hunched over laptops at The Cup, a café on bustling Pearl Street in downtown Boulder. They were holding an informal meeting about a social networking app they're developing and seemed to be on a first-name basis with the parade of techies walking through the door.

An influx of entrepreneurs like these has changed the face of this Colorado city of 98,000, making it a destination for Internet startups. With the University of Colorado as an anchor and a backyard full of mountains as lifestyle bait, Boulder now has the highest concentration of software engineers per capita in the nation. It's second only to Silicon Valley in percentage of workers employed in tech, according to the American Electronics Assn. Best-selling author and urban development expert Richard Florida says it has the greatest concentration of the "creative class"—scientists, artists, engineers, and the like—in the U.S.

The university and prestigious research labs such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Institute of Standards & Technology have long attracted well-educated folks to Boulder. In the 1970s, Celestial Seasonings and StorageTek helped foster a robust natural foods industry and a thriving tech community. Over the years, software, data services, and biotech blossomed as employees of those companies branched out to pursue other interests. The combination of entrepreneurship, engineering talent, and a counterculture vibe gave rise to many pre-bubble Net startups.

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youtube_logo.jpgFrom guest panels about the challenges women face in the technology sector, to interviews about the challenges they face in a male dominated work environment, this collection of videos shines a light on women in tech.

The list includes Caterina Fake explaining how she became co-founder of Hunch and Flickr, as well as Dianne Marsh speaking about the under representation of women in computer sciences. Also included is a video about a data center a women built, and an interview with a college student majoring in computer science. Best of all is the top video She's Geeky, which is about an all-female unconference facilitated by Kaliya Hamlin. (ReadWriteWeb's Mobile Summit on May 7 is going to be facilitated by Hamlin.)

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SENATE PASSES SBIR EXTENSION (CR) BILL

The Senate has passed a bill to extend the SBIR/STTR and some other SBA programs through July 31, 2010.  (This does not affect the DoD's SBIR/STTR program that is good through September 30, 2010.) 

This 3 month extender, S. 3253 was led by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and ranking member Olympia Snowe (R-ME). 

Most of you that follow the SBIR Insider know that the Senate wanted a longer leash, perhaps as long as a one year extension, but true to form and typical of the House Small Minded (oops) I meant House Small Business Committee, three months was the maximum Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) was willing to give. 

This now marks the 7th in a series of short term CRs since 2008 to extend the SBIR/STTR program. 

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Business Xpansion Journal (Duran) - “The United States doesn't have an innovation plan, where the rest of the world has a plan and is working very hard on it,” says Paul Fowler, research director and editor of NACFAM Weekly for the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing. The countries are constructing their advantages the same way we did in certain areas of education and R&D, Fowler adds. “It is just that the rest of the world has a lot of growth potential because they were so far behind in us in education and the amount of R&D, not just as a percentage of GDP, but also overall investment. They are catching up because they are making the investments we have always had.”

“Our competitors from Britain and Finland to Japan and South Korea have created national innovation strategies designed specifically to link science, technology, and innovation with economic strength,” noted William B. Bonvillian, director, MIT's Washington office, during a presentation at “The Global Innovation Context for Manufacturing Advance,” hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association in November. What's more, these countries have also formed new innovation institutions to coordinate these strategies.

“The United States is one of the only countries among the world's leading economies that lack a true national innovation strategy and the institutional focus to coordinate it — OSTP could play this role but must be empowered and staffed to do so,” Bonvillian told the conference's attendees.

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Sciam - coverWhat is the memory capacity of the human brain? Is there a physical limit to the amount of information it can store?
—J. Hawes, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, replies:

“Mr. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full,” a student with a particularly tiny head asks his classroom teacher in a classic Far Side comic by Gary Larson. The deadpan answer to this question would be, “No, your brain is almost certainly not full.” Although there must be a physical limit to how many memories we can store, it is extremely large. We don’t have to worry about running out of space in our lifetime.

The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.

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Business & Small Business HomeLike most successful freelancers, Brett Slater of Slater's Garage Ads & Audio earns a majority of his income from clients who hire him outright, agree on a contract, and compensate him for all his work on their projects. But roughly 15 to 20 percent of the audio and video producer's income is generated from an unlikely source: crowdsourcing websites and contests.

"I started doing video as a hobby," says Slater, a longtime radio man who added video production to his freelance repertoire in 2007. "I got hooked on YouTube and started looking at the video contests for fun. And they started paying off."

We're not talking chump change. In 2008, Slater took the $20,000 grand prize in a contest sponsored by the Maine Association of Realtors (see video) and the $15,000 grand prize in a contest held by Honda (see video). The time he spent creating each short video? The better part of a weekend.

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Who inspires your team?

Who develops the ideas, promotes an environment that fosters creative camaraderie, nourishes esprit de corps -- and steers the organization toward greatness?

In short, who is your Chief Innovation Officer?

Every organization that grows by creating new products or services or aspires to out-class the competition needs a Chief Innovation Officer, or CIO.

In Robert's Rules of Innovation, "Inspiration" is the first and most important of the 10 imperatives. Inspiration drives everything else -- from ideation to new product development to risk-taking itself.

Yet the selection of the CIO, and the definition of his or her tasks in seeing that these challenges are skillfully mastered, can make the difference between innovative success and failure.

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