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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.

Managing 'bright' ideas“Innovation” means different things to different people but, generally, it involves the application of novel ideas, products or processes for some purpose. But even if we can agree on “what” it is, do we understand “how” innovation happens?

There is a significant change taking place in the way that the process of innovation is understood. We can put this in the context of developments in the manageability of other areas of business activity in recent times.

“Selling” in the 1970s

Until about the 1970s in most organisations, “selling” was done by salesman who used skills with which they were born, rather than trained; they had a reputation for being overly friendly and free spirits! The concepts of describing the process of “selling”, of managing these people through the process and of training others who were not “born salesmen” to follow it were not given much credibility. But then, at about that time, came the realisation that the activities of selling do follow patterns and we can identify stages and describe sales funnels, measure what is happening, and so on.

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As Turkey begins to recover from some of the worst effects of the global economic downturn, it could be time to examine how a new brand of entrepreneur could help to sustain the revival of confidence.

According to Johan Stael von Holstein of the global business incubator IQube, speaking at the World Entrepreneurship Forum, “Every problem will eventually be solved by an entrepreneur.” But given the fact that so many of our current problems were generated by major international corporations, how can entrepreneurship seriously be considered a solution to them? The answer, according to the dean of the EM Lyon business school, Patrice Houdayer, lies in the development of the entrepreneurial spirit within the structures of these very corporations.

“I believe that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial leadership, in particular, are possibly more important within large businesses than they are within smaller companies,” he says. “In uncertain times like these, large organizations need to be as flexible as possible, ready to change and develop rapidly to accommodate the shifting needs of their customers and the market as a whole. But many only pay lip service to ‘intrapreneurship,’ the internal version of classic entrepreneurship, or even stifle it, because they fear losing control.”

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altHong Kong (HKSAR) - The Science Park had proven to be adept at not only bringing complementary businesses and facilities together, but also in incubating and nurturing innovators and entrepreneurs, the Commissioner for Innovation and Technology, Miss Janet Wong, said today (March 19). Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Incubation Programme of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, Miss Wong said the Incubation Programme, from its inception in 1992, had always been an important part in assisting technology-based companies at the critical start-up stage. She said, "The programme has successfully incubated more than 230 start-up companies, over 180 of which are still in business today." Miss Wong pointed out that in the past seven years, incubatees and graduates had filed over 360 intellectual properties, including patents, trademarks and registered designs.

Over 160 international and local awards have been won by companies under the programme. Among them, six of the companies graduated today. In the same period, the graduates had obtained over 180 cases of government funding, and attracted over $665 million in "angel"/venture capital investment.

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dwayne_spradlin_blogI’m not sure when I first heard the term “The New Normal”. With the internet, it was easy enough to Google the term and, to my surprise, books, articles, and blogs have all laid claim to the phrase for some time. In fact, some declared the New Normal immediately after Y2K as a reflection of the connectedness of technology, markets, and people. Then again after the internet bubble burst, the term was brought back and now again referring to the new realities resulting from the Global Financial Crisis.

The Economic Crisis is heralding a New Normal for Innovation that represents enormous opportunity for 21st century businesses, governments and society. This New Normal is powered by what some call Crowdsourcing and captured more broadly by the term Open Innovation.

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Marshall Hewitt, a consultant with Dean Foster Associates, gives employees of Hollister Inc. lessons in Japanese dining etiquette. Training to communicate across cultures has long been part of the preparation for executives moving overseas to work. But now, the training is increasingly for employees who may never leave the country, yet will work closely with companies and people around the world.

“Whether a multinational or a start-up business out of a garage, everybody is global these days,” said Dean Foster, president of Dean Foster Associates, an intercultural consultancy in New York. “In today’s economy, there is no room for failure. Companies have to understand the culture they are working in from Day 1.”

Mr. Foster recounted how an American businessman recently gave four antique clocks wrapped in white paper to a prospective client in China. What the man did not realize, he said, was that the words in Mandarin for clock and the number four are similar to the word for death, and white is a funeral color in many Asian countries. “The symbolism was so powerful,” Mr. Foster said, that the man lost the deal.

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Heading - The S Word

There is one simple science policy issue that has united the main political parties over the past three decades: how to squeeze more profit out of Britain's world-class science.

Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown and the prime ministers in between have been passionate about the central role that science should play in a modern economy.

So it comes as a surprise to see the chronic policy blunders identified by a recent report from the University of Cambridge. Cambridge is seen as a beacon of how to innovate and has spawned new sectors of industry in printing technology, semiconductors, wireless technology, software and scientific instruments, for example.

Exploding the Myths of UK Innovation Policy argues from the example of Cambridge that government thinking has been heavily influenced by three myths:

  • University research is the key source of technology and innovation for new hi-tech firms;
  • Venture capital is the primary source of finance;
  • The best way for Government to support technology development in companies is by funding multi-partner research collaborations between universities and private sector firms.
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Bart EppenauerEach year the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) rates the quality of companies’ patent portfolios, and this year again, Microsoft’s portfolio is rated the strongest in the software industry. It’s the third straight year that Microsoft has topped the IEEE Spectrum Patent Scorecard.

In another independent survey released this week, Microsoft ranked #1 in the Patent Board Scorecard, far surpassing all other information technology companies in the strength of our science and technology. Also this week, Forbes named Microsoft on its list of America’s Most Inventive Companies, based on the strength of our patent portfolio and return on R&D investments. And in January, Bloomberg BusinessWeek assessed Microsoft’s patent portfolio as having the highest value, beating out other leaders including IBM and Samsung. The magazine also placed Microsoft at the top of its Most Inventive Companies list.

These consistently high marks from experts in the industry signify that Microsoft’s focus on high-quality patent protection is working. Microsoft invests more than $9 billion annually in research and development, and the innovations that result from that R&D commitment are directly related to the quality of our patents. We’ve expanded our patent filings in recent years to match the accelerating pace of breakthrough technology developed at Microsoft, and these filings are closely aligned with our strategic business goals.

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dwayne_spradlin_blogI’m not sure when I first heard the term “The New Normal”. With the internet, it was easy enough to Google the term and, to my surprise, books, articles, and blogs have all laid claim to the phrase for some time. In fact, some declared the New Normal immediately after Y2K as a reflection of the connectedness of technology, markets, and people. Then again after the internet bubble burst, the term was brought back and now again referring to the new realities resulting from the Global Financial Crisis.

The Economic Crisis is heralding a New Normal for Innovation that represents enormous opportunity for 21st century businesses, governments and society. This New Normal is powered by what some call Crowdsourcing and captured more broadly by the term Open Innovation.

Read more ...

children american flagsSmall- and medium-sized businesses, the lifeblood of our nation's economy, were hit hard by the recession.

That's why some states and cities have made it a priority to establish programs that prevent them from failing -- by providing counseling and support, offering easier access to loans and grants, and encouraging growth in general.

If you're an SMB owner, check out the things that some areas are doing to rescue their small companies -- and perhaps campaign your representative to do something similar in your region.

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It’s hard enough to catch a venture capital company’s eye, but convincing them to give you funding is even harder. Beth Seidenberg, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, runs down the five metrics she uses to decide which companies will get money in this lecture given at Stanford University. As it often does, it comes down to leadership – and while passion is critical, you need to be able to communicate that clearly.

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HumeraHumera Fasihuddin is director of the Invention to Venture program at the National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance. She works with high-potential student teams to help them secure funding. She also runs the NCIIA’s I2V workshops, which teach basic and advanced entrepreneurship, and manages BMEidea, a national student competition in biomedical engineering.

ID: What sort of practical information is offered at Invention to Venture (I2V) workshops?

HF: Experience, contacts, money and luck are just some of the ingredients cited by successful serial entrepreneurs, who speak to the mostly student audience at Invention to Venture workshops. They’re all things that come easy to someone who’s been in the working world for a few decades, not as much for students. Most students have never held a job, but their networks can span 1,000 or so Facebook friends and the folks they know back home. And, they’re always cash strapped.

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The ranks of temporary help workers have increased for the past five months in a row, according to recently released Department of Labor figures. The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of Americans employed in temporary jobs rose 47,500 in February to 2 million—but at the same time, overall employment declined.

While staffing firms nationwide are reporting increased business as firms prepare for economic recovery, they say hiring is still nowhere near pre-recession levels.

In past recessions, temporary hires have been a leading indicator that companies are getting ready to hire permanent employees. The Associated Press reports that after the recession of 1990-1991, for example, temporary hiring picked up in August 1991 and permanent hiring increased almost immediately after that. After the recession of 2001, temporary hiring increased for three straight months in summer 2003, and permanent hiring began in the fall.

But things may be different this time around. At least right now, it doesn’t appear that many temporary employees have a chance of becoming permanent hires.”I think temporary hiring is less useful a signal than it used to be,” John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo, told the AP. “Companies aren’t testing the waters by turning to temporary firms. They just want part-time workers.”

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