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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 New York, PetroAlgae, ranked #16 in the 2009-10 “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” by Biofuels Digest readers and international selectors, filed its S-1 registration statement with the SEC this morning for its initial public offering. The IPO intends to raise up to $200 million in an offering led by underwriters Goldman Sachs, UBS Investment Bank, Citi, Piper Jaffray, Cowen & Co, and Baird.

The announcement was greeted with a hilariously inaccurate story in the New York Times, which apparently confused PetroAlgae’s technology with the OMEGA project developed by NASA (NASA proposed to grow algae in sealed bags floating on the ocean), and characterized the Synthetic Genomics and Solix projects as among algae-based ventures that are making money.

Among concerns raised in other coverage of the PetroAlgae announcement, the generally weak IPO market, the absence of revenues for the development-stage company. We’ll add another: rampant confusion over PetroAlgae’s name.

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The State University of New York (SUNY), in partnership with The Research Foundation of SUNY and SUNY campuses statewide, has launched five regional "Technology Transfer" hubs across the SUNY research enterprise as part of a novel effort to spur new high-tech business opportunities and stimulate economic growth across New York State. The move is in direct alignment with the SUNY Strategic Plan to build the Entrepreneurial Century.

Technology Transfer operations at the University at Albany, Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and Stony Brook University, which collectively are responsible for more than $1 billion in research expenditures, will serve as regional service providers for nearby SUNY campuses to turn SUNY innovations, inventions and ideas into products and materials for everyday public benefit.

SUNY College of Optometry, Upstate Medical University, Downstate Medical Center and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry already operate through a single point of contact for regional handling of technology transfer and licensing matters.

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altENTREPRENEURSHIP PREDICTS urban success, but can City Hall create a district that attracts more entrepreneurs to Boston? Unfortunately, the genie of inventive entrepreneurship doesn’t just come when called. But while governments have a poor track record of micro-managing innovation, they can help eliminate the barriers to entrepreneurship, like excessive regulation and a dearth of affordable, attractive living and work space.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s vision of an innovation district — a 1,000-acre area on the waterfront — could provide the structures needed to nurture new businesses. And cities filled with small, nimble firms have fared much better than places like Detroit, which is dominated by big companies. Employment growth between 1977 and 2007 was twice as fast in counties with smaller than average establishments than in counties with bigger firms. Suffolk County has the highest average establishment size of any large county in the United States. Boston has huge hospitals, colleges, and financial firms, but a paucity of the smaller enterprises that are so often associated with economic growth.

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Unlock Your Inner EdisonTime’s recent cover story on Thomas Edison, America’s greatest inventor, makes both instructive and inspirational reading.

Aside from patenting over 1,000 ideas in his lifetime, Edison gave birth to the modern ideas-driven organization. As the Time article points out, his Menlo Park “invention factory” was “the forerunner of every business-world creative cockpit, from the Ford engineering center to the Microsoft campus and Google’s Googleplex.”

I’ve always admired Edison’s seemingly endless capacity for innovation. But, after reading the article, I am even more in awe of how focused and productive he was. The Menlo Park laboratory, Edison famously claimed, would produce a minor invention every 10 days, and a major breakthrough every six months.

As if that weren’t enough, Edison’s invention to-do list was ambitious to say the least. It included, among other things, a long-distance telephone transmitter, an electric piano, a new version of the phonograph, and ink for the blind!

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Melanoma is one of the less common types of skin cancer but it accounts for the majority of the skin cancer deaths (about 75 percent).

The five-year survival rate for early stage melanoma is very high (98 percent), but the rate drops precipitously if the cancer is detected late or there is recurrence.

So a great deal rides on the accuracy of the initial surgery, where the goal is to remove as little tissue as possible while obtaining “clean margins” all around the tumor.

So far no imaging technique has been up to the task of defining the melanoma’s boundaries accurately enough to guide surgery.

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altThe government today said it is examining a proposal for setting up a venture capital fund to promote drug discovery in India.

"The department of pharamceutical is in the process of examining a proposal to set up a venture fund for promoting pharma discovery and innovation," Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Kumar Jena said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

He said that currently the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy is preparing details of the fund.

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imageOil-filled oceans, broken financial systems, inequality, lack of clean water and uncured diseases. The world's biggest problems are calling--and calling now.

The good news is that college students are arriving on campus just in time to play important roles in attacking those problems. College students have a high-impact, problem-oriented focus. And their energy, idealism, connectedness and unique point of view are crucial to success in solving the world's greatest problems.

Colleges and universities are the crown jewels of our society. Our top research universities have a combined endowment of more than $250 billion, and their financial resources are exceeded by the intellectual capital both inside their walls and in the communities that surround them. Moreover, these institutions are society's most durable. Of the 83 institutions that have survived since 1550, including the British Parliament and the Catholic Church, 70 are universities.

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imageSome entrepreneurs are making their mark in the world of small business over and over again.

When Marcia Kilgore arrived in New York City in 1987 and started work as a personal trainer, she had just $300 to her name and the backpack her mother had given her as a high school graduation gift.

More than two decades later, Kilgore, 41, has become a prolific innovator who sold her first company--the international spa chain Bliss--for a figure reportedly north of $30 million and went on to launch two more ventures: Soap and Glory, a purveyor of affordable beauty products currently sold at Target ( TGT - news - people ) in the U.S. and at other major stores in the U.K. and Canada, and FitFlops, which sells sandals that are designed to tone wearers' muscles. Oprah Winfrey touted FitFlops' virtues on her talk show in 2008 and they've been seen on many famous feet, with celebrity fans including Jessica Biel, Hilary Swank, Heidi Klum and Julianne Moore.

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Airplanes release greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere and require enormous amounts of fuel to fly. A Boeing 747 can consume up to five gallons of fuel per mile. But what if planes could be powered by electricity? Though they won’t replace passenger airliners anytime soon, small, zero-emission, electric planes are flying today.

Engineers have been pursing electric flight for decades. In 1979, the Solar Riser became the first manned electric aircraft to fly. It used photovoltaic cells to charge a battery that powered an electric motor, but could only fly five minutes, at which point it could either glide or land.

Many enhancements have been made since, and several models of electric planes are showing signs of promise. Two of the most interesting planes to fly recently are the E430 and the SkySpark.

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Startup EmployeeLet’s assume that you figured out the business, and core team challenges of a startup. The next in line is scaling up and one of the biggest challenges in scaling up is hiring. As a startup you have basic 3 thumb rules while hiring

1. You need the best possible talent

2. You can’t pay them the best possible money

3. You can’t afford to do mistakes.

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According to Newt Gingrich, Congress is failing to live up to its promise of creating jobs and stimulating the economy. Here, he offers his two cents and suggests steps it must take in order to help America's small businesses.

Since taking office President Obama and his liberal allies in Congress have promised to create jobs, even as their destructive policies are killing jobs and stifling economic growth, particularly with America’s small businesses.

In the 10 year period from 1996 to 2006, small businesses accounted for nearly 40 percent of total U.S. employment, according to a survey conducted by American Solutions, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that we co-founded.  Workers employed by small businesses increased by 4.2 million or approximately 11 percent.


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Peter Drucker on InnovationMany people struggle with trying to define innovation, or what innovation is within an organization. I’ve recently been re-reading one of the best business books I have, “The Essential Drucker. The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Writings on Management” which is a compendium of his writings.

Drucker wrote that purposeful innovation results from analysis, systemic review and hard work and can be taught, replicated and learned.

Purposeful, systemic innovation begins with the analysis of opportunities. The search must be organized and conducted on a regular basis. It seems that we may be getting hung up on “the fuzzy front end” and other views that make innovation seem really obscure. Drucker identified seven sources of opportunity that will ultimately drive innovation:

1. The organization’s own unexpected successes and failures, and also those of the competition.
2. Incongruities, especially those in a process, such as pro

duction, distribution, or incongruities in customer behavior.
3. Process needs.
4. Changes in industry and market structures.
5. Changes in demographics.
6. Changes in meaning and perception.
7. New knowledge.

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