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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.

In America and Britain governments hope that a partnership with “social entrepreneurs” can solve some of society’s most intractable problems

POLICYMAKERS on both sides of the Atlantic are keen on a new approach to alleviating society’s troubles. On July 22nd Barack Obama’s administration listed the first 11 investments by its new Social Innovation Fund (SIF). About $50m of public money, more than matched by $74m from philanthropic foundations, will be given to some of America’s most successful non-profit organisations, in order to expand their work in health care, in creating jobs and in supporting young people (see table).

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Highland Capital Partners General Partner Peter Bell used to teach a few classes at Boston College and would often ask professors to recommend the school’s best and brightest for positions within his portfolio companies. One of the students who ended up at his doorstep was Bill Clerico.

“I knew he was a good student and had good grades, but I asked Bill what else he does,” Bell said, recounting an

interview with Clerico for a position at medical tourism company Healthbase Online Inc. “He said, ‘Well, I don’t know if you’re a fan of BC sports, but I’m Baldwin.’”

That’s Baldwin The Eagle, mascot of Boston College athletics. Bell just happened to be a season ticket holder to just about every sport on campus.

Bell’s response: “‘You’re hired.’”

Seven years later Bell has led a $7.5 million Series B for Clerico’s WePay Inc. and joined the board of directors. Go Eagles.

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altSAINT JOHN - A month after it was formed, it's full steam ahead for a task force with a mandate to define and chart the course of the energy sector in New Brunswick.

Dale Knox, the chairman of the interim task force - which will be replaced by a permanent board at the end of this month - told the Telegraph-Journal the team had its third full meeting Friday morning. Some of the now-12-member task force called in by phone, while others attended in person at the offices of Ernst and Young, the consulting group that hosted a summit on the energy hub, along with the Department of Energy, back in July.

Knox, the president and chief executive of Tabufile Records Management, is one of a handful of community representatives on the interim task force, which also includes industry, government and academia. One of the principal jobs of the task force has been mapping out the province's existing and potential energy activities in Atlantic Canada and the U.S. Northeast. Knox says they assigned this to David Campbell, an economic development consultant, who returned to the group with a 47-page "high level" document Friday.

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the DCCCAngel investors will get a federal tax cut for investing in government-funded technology start-ups under proposed legislation.
 
Five members of Congress – including Jared Polis, the founder of Proflowers.com and Bluemountain.com and a first-term Democrat from Colorado – are proposing a new tax break that would provide a 25 percent credit for an equity investment in a company that has already qualified for a federal research and development grant program for small businesses. 

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Poor European entrepreneurs.  They can only dreams of SuperAngels, salivate from afar about the land of Ron Conway, the cool shirts of Sacca and the awesome dollar power of Angellist, whilst they're stuck with old school business angels or fee-charging networks, whilst European VC's, never a risk taking breed as we know, have all retreated back to the safer havens of "venture growth".  They can only wish there was a seed bubble. No wonder that governments feel there is an "equity gap" they need to fill, or that entrepreneurs feel compelled to leave for the promised land.  Everyone wants to be Bart Decrem (with better glasses, like mine), move over there and make it happen !

The truth is, we've been seeing Euro SuperAngels emerge for a while now.  When I came across Nic's question on the topic, and Fred Wilson's thoughts on London, I thought it would be worth writing them down.  My question is: "are we Europeans guilty again of beating ourselves over the head with a stick instead of focusing on, leveraging and celebrating what's there ?"

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The idea to write this post started with a twitter conversation Jonathan kicked off with these words of wisdom:

Don’t lead with “how’m I gonna make money?” Instead, ask “how’m I gonna blow people away and change lives?”

Most of us can agree that this principal is spot on for entrepreneurs with big dreams.

When Nathan Hangen added

Sometimes internal motivators aren’t aligned with success

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I knew I would be touching a raw nerve with my last two posts, on patents. But I was really surprised at the divergence of opinion. Entrepreneurs overwhelmingly supported my stance that software patents hamper innovation and need to be abolished, but friends at Microsoft, IBM, and Google were outraged at my recommendation. The big companies’ executives argued that abolishing patents would hurt their ability to innovate and thus hamper the nation’s economic growth. (They believe that companies like theirs create the majority of jobs and innovations, and they claim that without patents they cannot defend their innovations.) I am not convinced that software patents give Google any advantage over Microsoft and Yahoo, or make IBM’s databases any better than Oracle’s. But I do know one thing for sure: it isn’t the big companies that create the jobs or the revolutionary technology innovations: it is startups. So if we need to pick sides, I vote for the startups.

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The sun comes up and for most of us, it’s time for work. Or is it? How you start your work day can have a huge impact on the rest of it. Your morning routine is the lynchpin for either reducing or increasing creativity and productivity.

For example, on days I meet with clients, of course I get showered, dressed, and ready to head out as soon as possible. But on days when I need to get creative work done, I start right away. And I mean, as soon as I get up.

If the very first thing I do in my day is sit at my computer with a coffee, work seems easier. I can get many writing ideas and a short article together in an hour or so

. Yes, in my pajamas. Only later do I move on to getting dressed and so on.

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When venture capital funding to Silicon Valley startups slowed in the first quarter of this year while the flow of dollars to other regions picked up, industry analysts said it was no cause for alarm -- just a little geographical fluctuation.

And how. The valley's lackluster first quarter, it turns out, set the stage for a rousing rebound. With cleantech and life sciences setting the pace, Bay Area startups received a remarkable 45 percent of $6.5 billion in venture capital invested nationwide during the quarter, compared with 32 percent of $4.9 billion in the previous three months. In recent years, the region has typically collected one-third to 40 percent of venture dollars.

The Bay Area's $2.9 billion in funding was up 91 percent from the previous quarter and more than 100 percent from a year ago, with big cleantech deals as the top investments. Nationwide, funding into cleantech -- a sector that crosses various tech sectors -- increased 107 percent over the previous quarter to $1.5 billion.

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As a small business owner you are always looking for a cost effective way to make things easier. The 10 small business resources below will help you do just that.

10. Google Docs

Time to throw away Microsoft Office, Google Docs provides users with a free, web-based offering similar to Microsoft Office. Google Docs includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program among others. You can save your documents online and allow others to edit them online without the hassle of e-mailing new versions back and forth to each other. www.docs.google.com/

9. Outright.com

If you are a small business owner that has trouble keeping up with your bookkeeping because you are too busy building your business, then check out the free semi-automated bookkeeping website at www.outright.com. Simply link your business credit cards to your account and the service will automatically post your expenses and categorize them for tax purposes. www.outright.com

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Any number of things can go wrong in a venture capital fund and even more can go awry if the state is involved.

Politicians might raid the funds, pensioners might be pulled into a fruitless gamble, the highest-growth companies might be lured to the coasts, or even worse, the promising start-ups could all turn out to be duds.

Advocates for more Wisconsin-sponsored venture funds, however, say the biggest risk is failing to create them at all.

"We can't unilaterally disarm ourselves while other states are in this game," said Bill McCoshen, a former state commerce secretary and executive director of Competitive Wisconsin, one of the groups that funded the recently released "Be Bold Wisconsin" competitiveness study that recommended a revamp of the state Commerce Department.

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I have conducted an ongoing email and blog exchange for several years with the Founder and CEO of an entrepreneurial client firm, a fast-growth, B2B cloud-identity-security software provider: Ping Identity.  He comes up with penetrating questions and observations, and I respond.  Maybe others can benefit by following http://andredurand.com/  ?  Here's an exchange between us that occurred a while ago.  Andre Durand's observation:  "What a challenging task it is to keep the torch lit, when so many of the people you started with aren't around."

My response:

Some founding entrepreneurs negotiate progressive stages of funding and growth, and remain CEO, by successfully adapting to the evolving requirements of leadership for a successful emerging-growth enterprise. Rarely do they manage to forge ahead without suffering casualties among colleagues who were crucial in the startup era of the organization. The loss of colleagues outgrown by the business is so common, it is widely considered an ordinary expense of corporate maturation. However, such losses do not come without organizational and emotional costs. Some of these costs are felt immediately. Others take time to incubate and become a source of personal reflection, even misgivings, for the entrepreneur.
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