Innovation America Innovation America Accelerating the growth of the GLOBAL entrepreneurial innovation economy
Founded by Rich Bendis

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.

Since the times of Galileo and as recently as climate change researchers’ battles with the Bush administration, scientists have defended themselves against what they perceive to be undue intrusion into their research by government and other authorities. But rarely have scientists gone out of their way to start a fight with Johnny Law.

A DNA technician reviews genetic measurements on a monitor at the state Crime Laboratory in Jackson, MI.This dynamic seems to be changing in the field of DNA forensics. Two dozen scientists (along with several other scholars and practitioners) recently published an open letter in the prestigious journal Science that called out the Federal Bureau of Investigation for stonewalling research access to the federal DNA database. This database houses almost eight million DNA profiles used to identify unknown offenders who leave biological materials at crime scenes.

Why are scientists poking this bear with a stick? DNA evidence is particularly compelling because the chance that any two samples match coincidentally is slim to none; experts often express the probability as only one in several million. This is also why DNA is useful in exonerating individuals who are wrongly accused; testing can show that unknown samples either match or do not match any one individual with a high degree of certainty. But things become more complicated when forensic labs compare unknown samples with thousands or millions of stored profiles in search for a “cold hit”—an attempt to identify suspects solely on the basis that a stored profile matches the unidentified crime scene sample.

Read more ...

POWERFUL WINDS: In February wind generators delivered a record 6,242 megawatts of power to Texas population centers--22 percent of all the electricity consumed in the Texas grid. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryAUSTIN, Texas -- Feb. 28, 2010, was a banner day for Texas wind to set the clouds -- and electrons -- flying.

In the Panhandle, gusts reached 47 miles per hour and wind generators delivered a record 6,242 megawatts of power to Dallas, Austin and other population centers. At 1 p.m., 22 percent of all the electricity consumed in the Texas grid was coming from wind.

To proud Texans like Public Utility Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, such records document the state's position as the "epicenter of land-based wind production" in the United States, if not the world, as the chairman put it.

Read more ...

Forecasts at mid-decade rosily predicted that post-career boomers would be much in demand by under-resourced employers. Those numbers have all changed now, thanks to the job-chomping recession.

So what’s the employment future look like in the coming Boom Years? Not bad, actually, reports Harvard Business Review editor Bronwyn Fryer. He points to recent research showing the need for 5 million workers by 2018. He writes:

“Nearly half of them will be in the social sector — which makes them appealing to boomers who might be ready use their hard-earned expertise to give back to society.”
Read more ...

Meet the new guy on the venture-capital block: Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors, a billionaire hedge-fund manager whose net worth is estimated at $6.4 billion.

Cohen is looking to hire a general partner to run his own, personal venture-capital fund, according to sources who spoke to VentureBeat confirming DealBreaker’s earlier report. DealBreaker suggested that the fund will be around $100 million in size. But it’s our understanding that the fund will invest Cohen’s own money, not SAC’s.

If that’s the case, it will be more open-ended than the traditional venture-capital fund. Cohen could end up spending nothing on startups. He could — in theory — go all-in with his entire fortune. Anyone need $6.4 billion?

Read more ...

You’d think it would be obvious what business you’re in. If you make drills, you’re in the drills business. If you bake cookies, you’re in the cookie business. Right? Wrong.

When Trish Karter started her firm, Dancing Deer, it sprang to fame for unbelievably delicious and beautifully presented cookies. Molasses clove was the best selling cookie (it won the food industry equivalent of an Oscar in 1997), but her peppermint fudge brownies became pretty popular, too. Largely through word of mouth, the bakery had become famous for fantastic indulgences, gorgeous packaging and for the major contribution it made helping the homeless of Boston, where the company was based. Swiftly, Dancing Deer became a very easy business to love. But, like many entrepreneurs, Karter struggled with the company’s growth, especially  with the markedly seasonal nature of her product: sales peaked between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

But that pattern revealed a different truth: Dancing Deer wasn’t a bakery; it was a gift shop. Most people bought the products as presents — the brownie towers and cookie samplers were mostly seasonal gifts. But of course, if you give cookies one year, you probably don’t want to give the same gift the following year — so unless Dancing Deer offered a great variety, you would move on. This revelation was important: it meant that variety was key to the business and that the talent and effort Karter had always poured into packaging was crucial, not peripheral. It also identified partners and marketing channels previously invisible. In short, it changed the way the company thought about building customer loyalty.

Read more ...

MarketsMUMBAI: Early stage funding for promising start-up firms appears is set to receive a boost with local and foreign venture capital (VC) investors lining up investment plans as the economic recovery gains strength both in India and abroad.

Over 30 new VC funds have started putting money in start-ups across various sectors such as clean technology, micro finance, rural technology and genomics apart from conventional segments, a marked contrast to the bleak days of 2007-08 when the global financial crisis hit these investors hard.

The pace of economic recovery now coupled with factors such as higher investment returns and easier exit options have triggered off fresh interest among both domestic and foreign VC firms to invest in India. Amongst foreign VC (FVC) firms, funds such as Artiman Ventures, BAF Spectrum, ATEL Ventures, Blue Orchard, Mercatus Capital and Foundation Capital have already made the initial investments in Indian start-ups.

Read more ...

A group of us at Purdue, Penn State and The University of Akron are working on new frameworks for open innovation in regional economies. We are developing a network of practitioners at colleges and universities across the country who are positioned to accelerate innovation in regional economies.

Here's a framework that can help regional leaders understand the interplay of investments required to build an innovation economy. With this framework, regional leaders can map their current strategy, as well as evaluate new strategies. From another perspective, this framework specifies the different dimensions of what some are beginning to call an "entrepreneurial ecosystem".

In today's quickly shifting economy of networks, coherence is more important than vision. That's why these visual tools are important. They provide the strategy maps we need to organize both thinking and action in loosely joined networks.

Read more ...

Last month the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab ran an event at the Stanford Business School, called The Internet of Things: Sensors Everywhere. The video of the event was recently put up on YouTube. We've embedded the entire hour-long video below, along with a 2-minute video snippet which we think budding entrepreneurs should take note of.

If you have time, the entire event is worth viewing. It delves into current successful use cases for Internet of Things. Panelists include representatives from HP's sensor networks division, a medical software company, and a company which provides sensor-enabled products for vending machines.

Read more ...

geolocation, technology, man, pinpointed, deathIs "checking in" the next tweeting? So say the tech cognoscenti, adherents of a new breed of online social service called "geolocation." When members visit their favorite restaurant, bar, or laundromat, they use their smartphone (in most instances) and a site such as Foursquare or Gowalla to tell their friends where they are. Foursquare, which is racking up at least a million check-ins a week, prods its users to keep coming back by turning ordinary life into a kind of game. Users earn points each time they use the service; the most ardent fans keep checking in at the same locations over and over, eventually winning the prestigious title of "mayor" of, say, Happy Hamburger.

What's the point of telling everyone you're at the dentist? That's a bit like asking why anyone would use Facebook, or, in an earlier time, the telephone. Novel social applications seem useless -- until they cross the Rubicon and begin to be indispensable. Foursquare, which launched in March 2009, has been surging, thanks largely to the iPhone and other GPS-enabled mobile devices. Media outfits such as HBO, Zagat, and Bravo TV have joined Foursquare's game, enabling Top Chef fans to win points for going to restaurants that appear in the show and Zagat readers to get tips and unlock a "foodie" badge.

Marketers too are wondering if consumers are finally ready to tell them where they are so they can be offered in-the-moment specials. "Our growth curve no longer looks like a hockey stick," Foursquare recently tweeted. "It looks like a skateboard ramp with 4 feet of vert."

Read more ...

There are many ways for marketing professionals to bamboozle customers into believing they are getting a better deal than they actually are — notable among them “as low as” pricing come-ons and offers that promise to deliver “up to” some standard of service.

The Internet is no stranger to this sort of gauzy offering, but it has become too central to the way Americans communicate to rely on dubious metrics. A consistent federal standard is needed to determine the speed at which Americans navigate the Internet so consumers can make informed choices about their service.

Broadband providers argue that their dazzling promises of “up to” speeds are not a gimmick. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, a lobby group, is protesting a Federal Communications Commission report that says the typical speeds experienced by American consumers are less than half the “up to” speed advertised.

Read more ...

RTechnology Review - Published By MITussia is finalizing plans to launch a Silicon Valley-like "innovation center" near Moscow. The Kremlin has selected a patch of farmland near a private business school, has set aside funding, and this week named a Nobel laureate, the physicist Zhores Alferov, as the project's science advisor. Now comes the hard part: making it work.

Venture capital: Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab (left) and President Dmitry Medvedev (right) met last year at the launch of a new Russian commission to promote technology development in the country. Medvedev recently announced plans to build a Silicon Valley-like innovation center outside Moscow. Credit: Kaspersky Lab This means deciding what kind of operating and funding model to pursue, and making sure Russia's legal and financial structures will support entrepreneurship. "There certainly isn't any shortage of really bright technical people with great technological ideas in Russia, and that's a strong suit," says Josh Lerner, a professor of investment banking at Harvard Business School. "But the big thing has to be: 'What are the barriers to being an entrepreneur and how can we address them?' The entrepreneurial environment represents somewhat of a challenge."

In particular, Russia will need to prove that inventors can secure intellectual property and protect it in the courts, and that investors won't face onerous taxes or other restrictions in financing new ventures. "I think all those areas represent challenges to them," Lerner adds. "My guess is that litigating intellectual property will be challenging."

Read more ...

cash make it rain video stillI've [Author] been interested in technology for as long as I remember. But when I decided I wanted to be in the technology business, and not just a consumer and watcher of technology, I decided to build a "fake VC portfolio."

Whenever I try out, or hear about a new company, I don't just ask myself whether I like it, but whether, if I were in a position to, I would write a check of my own money and invest in that company in the early stages.

It's one thing to think a given product or service is really good, or even that it will be popular. It's quite another to think that it will one day be a huge business. And it's even quite another to stake your own money on that goal. I think it's useful because it forces on you a mental discipline, and to think of each new web product as a business.

Read more ...