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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.

WHEN Barbara Landau, an environmental and land-use lawyer in suburban Boston, was shopping for insurance on the energy-efficient home she and her husband were building in the woods just outside of town here, she was routinely asked what sort of furnace the home would have.

“None,” she replied.

Several insurers declined coverage.

“They just didn’t understand what we were trying to do,” Mrs. Landau recalls. “They said the pipes would freeze.”

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Activision Blizzard Joins Change the EquationActivision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) announced today that it has joined Change the Equation (CTEq), a corporate-led initiative to cultivate widespread literacy in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). First announced last week by President Obama, CTEq will not only achieve the President's Educate to Innovate campaign mission to increase private and philanthropic involvement in STEM education, but also will meet a critical need for a workforce and a citizenry fluent in science and math.

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Apple has tipped its hand on future iPad designs by filing for patents in China. According to Patently Apple, the new patent filings show a number of changes to the design of the iPad, which has become the hottest-selling tablet computer in history.

The designs may or may not be used in future iPads. One change is the ability to plug an iPad into a dock in horizontal mode rather than just vertical. The designs show an extra 30-pin connector on the horizontal bezel of the iPad. The second picture shows how the extra dock port could be useful; you can turn the iPad sideways and plug it into a keyboard so that you can type and view the screen in horizontal mode.

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I finally left the office at 8:30pm. It was cold and rainy out. I think I got home on autopilot. I pulled into the driveway and pushed the garage door opener. Nothing happened. “&[email protected]$!” I muttered.

I grabbed my laptop and piled some files on top of it. Then, juggling a pile of office homework, I fumbled for my keys. I went up to the door and tried to put my key in the door, but it wouldn’t fit. “&%$!” I muttered again. And then I looked up and saw my neighbor coming to the door. “Ivana, what are you doing here?”

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When I first read Paul Graham’s blog post on “High Resolution” Financing I read it as a treatise arguing that convertible notes are better than equity. As I’m generally a believer in ‘pricing rounds’ I initially didn’t agree with the premise of the post.

I just re-read it and on second reflection, I’m surprised just how much I found myself in near TOTAL agreement with Paul. Having re-read it, I believe his real premise instead is, “Fixed-size, multi-investor angel rounds are such a bad idea for startups that one wonders why things were ever done that way.”

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You don’t always have to use Photoshop to create optical illusions in your photographs. With a technique called forced perspective you can create illusions that make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It just takes a little creativity with the placement of the subjects in the shot and the camera angle. To give you some inspiration, here are 20 Creative Examples of Forced Perspective Photography.

forced perspective photography
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Recently I took part in a program whose front end featured a talk by Joseph Ackerman, CEO of Elbit Industries, a leading Israeli defense contractor. Ackerman spoke about innovation in management, his own philosophy, and illustrated his approach with the H W principle.

On the screen he showed a large “H” and a large “W”. “H” stands for height. You can do nothing about your height, he explained. You are born with it, it is determined by your genes. Accept it, live with it. “W” stands for weight. You CAN do something about your weight. If you are underweight, you can fatten up. If you are overweight, you can exercise and slim. It is not easy, but it is possible.

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Last week, Peter Longo and I had the opportunity to attend the State Science and Technology Institute’s (SSTI’s) 14th Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The theme for the event was “Accelerating Innovation” – underlining the need for new ideas in an economy where things have changed so dramatically over the past few years. As of November 2009, the national debt topped $12 trillion, and approximately 14 states in this country were (and still are!) living hand to mouth. Should our universities, states, governments and companies be approaching this economic downturn using the same old practices? Simply put, no. There has to be a better way to do business in our states. The SSTI conference provided an environment where all states could come together to share best practices, innovative ideas and new visions to encourage technology-based economic development (TBED) and lead our country down a path we can all benefit from by working collaboratively.

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You may well have heard talk recently about Facebook’s £33bn valuation and similarly high valuations for other private companies on SecondMarket.  I’m writing today to share a few thoughts on why we need to be careful with these numbers, but before I go any further, I want to make the point that I think Facebook is a fantastic business with good prospects which has done a great job of innovating beyond their initial product.  Similarly, I think SecondMarket provides a valuable service and it is helpful for small shareholders in private companies to be able to sell their shares before larger shareholders are ready to exit, particularly for companies on the IPO track who are waiting much longer than they used to before listing.

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ampararainwatertank_LankaRainWaterHarvestingForum.jpgMr Wijesinghe, of Meewellawa village, in the dry northwest of Sri Lanka, used to dread his neighbours calling round. A call, by custom, means serving a cup of tea. His well was dry for increasing portions of the year — and every drop had to be fetched from up to 4km away.

That was before last year's installation of a system that collects rain from his roof and diverts it into a tank and a pond. Now, Wijesinghe has drinking water. In addition, water percolating down from the pond has recharged his well and also irrigates a lush new garden rich in fruit and vegetables that he sells. His family has time for other activities.

As for a cup of tea — his door is always open.

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