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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.

About 30% of city traffic is caused by people driving around looking for parking.

That’s an estimate by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA). As a car-owning San Franciscan, I have to say it sounds about right.

It’s also a favorite statistic of Zia Yusuf, newly hired CEO of Streetline, a Silicon Valley-based startup that has a vested interest in the plight of urbanites and their parking issues. Streetline, which sells a sensor-based system to track parking space information, has raised $3.7 million since 2006 from Sutter Hill Ventures and other backers, according to Thomson Reuters (publisher of peHUB).

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Creating and building a business is not a one-man show. It requires a team effort, or at least the ability to build trust and confidence among key players, and effectively communicate with partners, team members, investors, vendors, and customers. These actions are the hallmark of an effective leader.

Behind the actions are a set of principles and characteristics that entrepreneurial leaders, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, seem to have in common. Look for these and nurture them in your own context to improve the odds of success for your own startup:

1. Clarity of vision and expectations.
You must be able and willing to communicate to everyone your vision, goals, and objectives. Just as importantly, you have to be absolutely clear about who you are, what you stand for, and what you expect from everyone around you. People won't follow you if they are in the dark or confused.

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The research study, Global Entrepreneurship and the United States, by Zoltan Acs and Laslo Szerb, constructs a multifaceted tool for measuring and comparing countries’ overall entrepreneurial health.

Washington, D.C. - infoZine - How does the United States compare to other nations in the field of entrepreneurship? A paper released today by the Office of Advocacy titled Global Entrepreneurship and the United States by Zoltan J. Acs and Laszlo Szerb looks at this question. Using the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI), the United States ranks third overall; it ranks first on the entrepreneurial aspirations, sixth in entrepreneurial attitudes, and eighth in entrepreneurial activity. The GEDI is a research tool that captures the contextual features of entrepreneurship in 71 countries.

“Entrepreneurship is essential for an economy to grow and flourish,” said Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for Advocacy. “This important study provides a better understanding of our strengths and where we need to improve in order for us to compete in a global economy”

A copy of the report ( PDF external link ) and the research summary ( PDF external link ).

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A 2010 study of 1,500 chief executives conducted by IBM's (IBM) Institute for Business Value identified creativity as the No. 1 leadership competency of the future. This paints a broad role for creativity in the business world in spurring economic growth. Creative solutions are needed for organizations to thrive, but how can business leaders deliberately increase creativity? Allow us to introduce the four Ps of Creativity, a holistic model for looking at creativity that leverages People, Products, Process, and Press to build creative competency, develop radically innovative solutions, and increase revenue.

Strategy No. 1 People: Form diverse teams adept at ideating, clarifying, developing, and implementing.

The Greek philosopher Plato believed people were born creative, but prevailing scientific research today refutes this theory. We now understand the question is not, "Are you creative?" but "How are you creative?"

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Tech startups use social media avidly [rabidly?], but biotech companies? Not so much.  Biotech companies should be blogging, tweeting and linking in like mad, though.  Here’s why:

  1. Your customers (pharma companies) do it. More and more pharma companies are active in social media. Take a look at this article in the December issue of Life Science Leader (h/t @FiercePharma) or read the Dose of Digital blog any day of the week and you’ll be directed to interesting information about how products are being developed, tested and marketed. These are things you need to keep in mind as you move through your own product development process. Also, lots of pharma folks are on LinkedIn, so if you are as well, you’ll maximize your ability to reach out through personal connections when you’re building a constituency for your partnering deals.  Here’s my Twitter list of BioPharma news and analysis.
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Textaurant founder Josh Bob tells me his Waltham start-up has just landed its first big customer in Boston: Finale Desserterie & Bakery. Textaurant's technology allows restaurants to use a laptop to manage their list of customers waiting for a table, sending out a text message to let customers know when one becomes available. Finale will be using the system at the local chain's two busiest locations, in Harvard Square and Boston's Theater District, starting later this month.

You can already see Textaurant's system in action at Cafe Luigi in Bedford, and the Right Fork Diner on Martha's Vineyard. Bob says that the Right Fork Diner began using Textaurant just before July 4th, "and they were handling about 400 people a week day."

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As President of a local inventors group I can’t tell you how many inventors I meet who have spent big bucks to procure a patent but never built a prototype. So they have no idea if the invention really works. Others who have a garage full of product, just collecting dust because they never tested the market before hand. However, most successful inventors and product development companies that I know, start off with a Proof of Concept Analysis BEFORE they start spending money. So if they do it, why not you?

A full Proof of Concept Analysis consists of three equally important parts: Business Analysis, Ownership Analysis and Product Analysis. These steps should be developed simultaneously or at least completed before moving on to development or you WILL certainly regret it later. I usually start with the one that I consider to be the weakest link in the chain. For example, if I think ownership might be an issue I will do a pretty strong patent, product and industry search especially if I think I have seen something similar.

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Here's Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Houses taking you on a tour of his clever, 100-square-foot house, which reminds me of a wooden, super-luxury first-class plane-seat on the flagship airline of some oil-soaked, cash-infused land.

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NEW YORK, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) is looking for a few green executives. Thirty, to be exact.

Following a highly successful pilot semester in which 140 seasoned executives vied for 25 spots, NYU-Poly is calling for applicants for the fall session of its CleantechExecs program, a rigorous 10-week curriculum that trains top managers from a variety of fields to lead businesses in New York's fast-growing clean technology sector. The program is a collaborative undertaking between NYU-Poly's Department of Technology Management, NYU-Poly's New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (NYC ACRE) and the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). NYSERDA funding will once again fully cover tuition for executives admitted into the highly competitive program.

A focal point of the program is an applied project in which participants team with a startup or existing company to conceive or implement a clean-technology initiative. Among the first projects were plans to execute a green retrofit of some of New York's least energy-efficient residential buildings; proposals for the next-generation of smart-grid software, and a green overhaul of NYU-Poly's Brooklyn campus, transforming the area into a clean energy zone.

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madison1.jpgMadison, Wisconsin has always been known as a progressive town - in part because it's home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But over the last few years, the city has gained a reputation as an emerging technology startup hub in the Midwest.

Earlier this year, Forbes Magazine named Madison the 7th most innovative city in the U.S., ranking it ahead of the noted startup hotspot of Boston.

Like many cities that foster thriving startup communities, Madison benefits from strong university and government support (the latter in the form of a 25% tax credit for angel investors and a 2% forgivable loan for startups), as well as a number of entrepreneur-friendly events organizations.

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twohearts_sep10.jpgA majority of the advice aimed at helping startups manage relationships with venture capitalists is tailored for when that startup is raising or has raised funding. Certainly a lot of the interaction between startups and investors takes place during and after financing rounds, but there is a lot entrepreneurs can be doing before they seek funding to set themselves up for success with VCs. In a response to a question on the Q&A site Quora, VC Mark Suster offered his advice to entrepreneurs on how to manage relationships with VCs before fundraising begins.

Suster's first point is to pick and choose which VCs you decide to build a relationship with very carefully. There's no point in spending time on a relationship with a VC who is irrelevant to your product sector or who you can't imagine actually working with in the future (for any reason). It's a lot like dating when you think about it - if you're seriously looking to meet your future spouse, why waste time dating someone you'd never consider marrying?

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Email marketing lists are only as effective as the number of your list members. One of your first goals should be to increase the members of your email list. Think about it this way - if you have a 1% conversion rate with your list, you’ll have 5 sales from your list of 500. If you grow your list to 5000, you’ll have 50 sales. Getting more members on your list should be your top priority. Fortunately, there are several different places you can grow your list.

1.    On your website

This is the first place that people think of when they want to grow their email marketing list. It’s a natural fit. Placing your opt in form on your website or your blog will encourage website visitors to sign up for your list. All they have to do is enter their email address and name in order to be included. You can encourage the sign ups by offering a free course, whitepaper or other incentive.

2.    Social media platforms

Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms can help you introduce your list and promote your incentive. As you grow a following on these sites, you can increase your list as well. You can place an opt in box on your company’s Facebook page. Tweet about your list and encourage your followers to opt in for your incentive. Since you have already built a relationship with these people they’ll be more likely to opt into your list.

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