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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.

The entrepreneur community is more closely knit than you’d believe, and when someone picks up on a notable event or trend, the blogosphere literally lights up with posts.

As far as entrepreneur blogs go, the flavor of the month appears to be the debate about whether the seed funding phenomenon is a bubble waiting to burst, or whether it’s a viable means of funding pre-revenue/start-up businesses. This is my take on the landscape.

First Off – What Are Seed Funds?

There was a time when if you wanted to fund your company you had four options, approach:

  1. A bank
  2. An angel investor
  3. A venture capitalist
  4. OR ………… have an asinine risk tolerance and fund the project yourself with your own money.
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Last month, Governor Crist called for a special session for the expressed purpose of putting an amendment on the November 2010 ballot to enshrine into our Constitution a ban on drilling in Florida waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Let’s be clear: there is already a ban of this kind in statute for Florida.

Given this call by the Governor, let’s take his idea and his rhetoric to a logical conclusion. What if we turned to green energy today to meet our personal and economic needs for energy consumption? Could we do it? With the help of Robert Bryce from the Washington Post, who authored a recent article on the subject, let’s chase down several popular maxims related to “green energy” and check out the veracity of each.

  • Solar and wind are truly clean energies. Not true – as an example, both require large tracts of land including what the Nature Conservancy called “energy sprawl”…tens of thousands of high-voltage transmission lines required to carry electricity to far off places for the purposes of consumption.
  • Wind energy substantially reduces the dreaded carbon footprint. Not true – the wind doesn’t always blow so guess what electric companies use to offset the unpredictability of wind – gas and coal-fired generators. Plus, when the wind does blow, how is it trapped, contained and transported as a power source?
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EurActiv LogoBiodiversity and ecosystem conservation offer an array of new opportunities for business, which can either develop green products and services or trade biodiversity 'credits', argues a new European Commission report on the economics of nature.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for business report was launched on Tuesday (13 July), setting out the business case for providing green services.

It notes that biodiversity and ecosystem services offer opportunities for all business sectors, mainly because integrating environmental concerns into company management can increase the cost-effectiveness of operations, ensure the sustainability of supply chains and attract new customers.

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You might have seen that Dave McClure who has been making seed investments in the US for the Founders Fund and the Facebook Fund over the last twelve months has recently raised his own fund.  In this interview with GigaOM he talks about the sort of things he likes to see in startups and his philosophy on investment.  There is a lot of good stuff here.  If you are running a consumer internet company or are looking to better understand the characteristics of a good one then it is well worth ten minutes of your time.  I don’t watch many videos of this length, but I stayed with this one until the end.

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U.S. venture capital investors in new energy technologies are beginning to groom their portfolio companies for increased business in China, given favorable government policies and more availability of capital.

Many U.S. clean technology companies already rely on Chinese manufacturers for their component parts. Now, investors said, U.S. companies are turning to China for capital as well.

“The funding crunch in the U.S. is really severe,” said Jiang Xiaodong, a managing director with New Enterprise Associates and head of the firm’s operations in China. “And a lot of the Chinese companies that are listed on the SME [board of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange] exchange and on ChiNext raised a lot of money and now they want to spend it in a way that gives them access to technology and future growth opportunities.”

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Even light or moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking or cycling, can substantially reduce the risk of early death, a new study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Cambridge University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has found.

The study, published this week by the International Journal of Epidemiology, combined the results from the largest studies around the world on the health impact of light and moderate intensity physical activity. It showed that the largest health benefits from light or moderate activity (such as walking and cycling) were to people who do hardly any physical activity at all. Although more activity is better, the benefits of even a small amount of physical activity are very large in the least physically active.

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business-schoolColleges and universities across the U.S. are recognizing the need for academic offerings that cater to aspiring social entrepreneurs. Paul Tracey and Nelson Phillips point out that there are an "increasing number of social entrepreneurs entering business schools in order to learn the skills and competencies required to build sustainable business, as well as a growing proportion of mainstream businesses incorporating a social dimension in their activities." Programs like the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurs in the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and the Program on Social Enterprise at Yale University's School of Management offer programs tailored specifically to social entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless, many institutions for higher education have been slow to adapt to the variety of challenges that arise from the distinct nature of social enterprise. "Entrepreneurship instructors currently face a variety of challenges linked to the diversification of the entrepreneurship student demographic," observe Matthew M. Mars and Sharon Garrison of the University of Arizona. New pedagogical approaches must be developed to teach students who seek to use business skills to tackle social problems.

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In an earlier post titled “From Communities to Communes” we said ” Finding relevancy to “thinking” is typically found in smaller groups of people who seek knowledge and wisdom that reflects their beliefs. Common beliefs are what creates relational bonds. Haven’t you noticed that your “real” network is actually becoming smaller regardless of how many “followers and friends” you think you have?”

Communities have become a common way for brands, organizations and institutions to accomplish old business models. Old business models applied to use of social technology aimed to attract people into transactional traps by appealing to and creating self interest. Lets admit it. Getting your blog, your content and profile highlighted in one of  major media communities strokes the ego and fulfills the intended self interest, you are important and admired.  The people and organizations that run large communities make money from our content and pay us using the oldest currency in the world, popularity and sense of importance.

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The web is Big but becoming small. The first phase of BIG was creating cn-line communities. People and organizations have been forming “communities” and trying to pull everyone in. Brands are forming communities and there are communities for communities. It is becoming impossible to engage in so many communities.

The real attraction to a community is relevance to conversations that show the “thoughts” of the people and not the thoughts of the “brand or organization”. Relevancy to “thoughts” is a lot different from relevancy to mass messaging and media. Finding relevancy to “thinking” is typically found in smaller groups of people who seek knowledge and wisdom that reflects their beliefs. Common beliefs are what creates relational bonds. Haven’t you noticed that your relevant network is actually becoming smaller regardless of how many “followers and friends” you have?

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"Tunable" windows would let people adjust light and heat levels, but so far it's been hard to make them affordable.

Windows that absorb or reflect light and heat at the flick of a switch could help cut heating and cooling bills. A company called Soladigm has developed methods for making these "electrochromic" windows cheaply, making them more viable for homes and office buildings.

Existing electrochromic window designs cost around $100 per square foot. Soladigm has not disclosed how much its windows will cost, but some experts say the method could reduce the cost to around $20 per square foot.

The Milpitas, CA-based company uses a thin-film deposition process that creates conducting layers between two panes of glass for controlling the amount of sunlight and heat that can pass through. A homeowner or office dweller could control how much light or heat a window lets in or absorbs and reflects.

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Innovation Hall of MirrorsIt is too easy and wrong to think that innovators are egocentric, always admiring themselves and their accomplishments in the mirror. They are confident but not self absorbed and impervious to outside input. If anything innovators are vulnerable, self aware, and open to diverse and critical input to improve their ideas and concepts. The view they see while looking into a mirror is more like the wavy one in the circus fun house that reflects a distorted view. A view that always causes a gasp and accentuates flaws that need serious work and improvement. Innovators know they must improve in order to find better ways to deliver value and solve real world problems.

Innovators spend very little time looking in the rear view mirror. They tend to be forward thinking and looking. It is important to learn from the past but innovators are never bogged down in it or constrained by the way things have always worked. Innovators tend to be market makers rather than share takers. Understanding how a market has worked in the past is helpful but innovators like to tinker across markets to envision and create an entirely new market model or system.

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children american flagsRecently, Under30CEO ran a poll to find out what the top cities for young entrepreneurs were in the United States.

Voters were asked to think about resources, schools, events, climate, and the social scene that a young entrepreneur looks for.

The results are in, and below we have put together the top 10 cities for young entrepreneurs in 2010.

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