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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.

There are a growing number of resources for entrepreneurs on the web, but certainly one of the very best is Venture Hacks. And their AngelList service is particularly useful for entrepreneurs trying to get angel rounds done. I found myself recommending it to at least a half dozen entrepreneurs this past week.

I particularly like this case study of the BlockChalk angel round on the Venture Hacks blog. For those who aren't going to click thru and read the whole thing, here's a quick summary.

Joshua Schachter had already committed to invest in the BlockChalk angel round and he suggested they use AngelList to fill out the round. That resulted in commitments from Mitch Kapor, Thomas McInerney, and Josh Stylman. But then Josh Stylman introduced BlockChalk to Chris Dixon and Eric Paley who joined the round. And then with the strength of that syndicate in place, AngelList added Satya Patel, Michael Dearing, and David Liu to finish off the round.

What this shows is that the old model of angel deals is alive and well. Angels love to share deals with each other. It is how angel rounds come together. But AngelList adds at least two things to the mix. First, it adds a place where the deals can come together online. And second it adds people to the mix that would not be part of the offline deal sharing networks that already exist.

I am on AngelList. I see all the deals come together. I don't personally invest in angel deals in the web/tech space because of potential conflict with USV down the road. But even so, I find it immensely useful to see what companies are getting traction in the angel market. It's part of my radar/early warning system. And it is entirely possible that we will decide that USV needs to participate in an angel round that is coming together on AngelList, although that has not yet happened.
So if you are putting together an angel round, particularly if you already have it partially raised but need to finish it off, I strongly suggest looking into AngelList. It's a great service.

At its best, entrepreneurship captures the essence of childhood imagination and adult endeavour. This slick video, written and produced by Sonja Jacob and designed by Ben White, reminds us that creation and determination, fused with possibility, can create great success.

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<b>Chase Perry is Nashville Capital Network's new director.</b>The online instructions are clear enough, but for an entrepreneur who has put a lot of sweat, a little blood and some of his own money into an unproven idea, the words sound somewhat bureaucratic.

"Entrepreneurs interested in accessing the services and members of the Nashville Capital Network must first complete this short online questionnaire, in which they provide a brief overview of the company. Ventures that are judged appropriate … will be asked to submit an executive summary and business plan. You can then expect a call to discuss your plan."

We're all accustomed to sending important letters or e-mails to nameless, faceless recipients who sit in judgment of our resumes, loan requests, credit scores or college entrance applications. So, perhaps it's no surprise that entrepreneurs in search of investors have to begin the same way — by filling out a form to be reviewed by an unseen expert.

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In an earlier post titled “Doing vs. Knowing What to Do” we said “You can repeat what someone else says yet not fully understanding the value of what they said. You can mimic what others do but it doesn’t mean you are mimicking what they know.

Knowing something is reflected by how well you do that which you know. Doing something you don’t know is reflected by the poor results of what you do.  All this being said do you follow what people do or what people know?”

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Compared to the EU funding application, this is easy. Micro-organism research at the Leibniz Institute Sarrebruck, GermanyWithin the framework of the EU 2020 strategy, the EU is to devote more than six billion euros on research funding — a windfall that will mainly be of benefit to major companies engaged in long-term projects, explains Dutch academic Alfred Kleinknecht.

Next year, the European Union will spend 6.4 billion euros to fund research and innovation projects — a sum that  the Irish EU Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn deems to be indispensable if we are to safeguard the future of Europe. As she explains in her own words, “Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis.” The funds in question will be sourced from the Seventh EU Framework Programe for R&D, which will administer a total of 50 billion euros in funding for the 2007-2013 period. Professor Alfred Kleinknecht, who specialises in the economics of innovation at the Delft University of Technology, monitors what becomes of this money and how it is spent.

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CreativityEarlier this month, Newsweek declared that America is facing a “Creativity Crisis”. According to some researchers, there is evidence that creative potential in young Americans has dropped for the first time in generations…and that might be an early warning sign of cultural decline.

I’m calling shenanigans on you, Newsweek. From where I’m standing, Americans are more creative today than ever before. Ideas travel halfway around the world in an instant, people can get advice on the best ways to solve their most pressing problems any time of the day or night, and innovative entrepreneurs are doing their part to help pull us out of the recession.

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To me, education is a lot like a team sport; the players, with their individual skill sets and advantages, must work together to "score." Take science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, for example, where the goals are fairly well agreed upon; to increase the number of students -- especially girls -- that enter into STEM fields, shift the negative perceptions and train teachers to become better informed and more enthusiastic advocates of STEM education. Nonprofits, educators, researchers and companies must combine assets and play together to enact positive change.

Motorola recently convened a conference to bring together some of the most innovative key players in the STEM arena to address just that -- how do we work best as a team to reach our collective goals of improving STEM education in the U.S. At the second annual Innovation Generation Network Conference, we shared best practices and learned from one another how to make a positive and cohesive impact. Our discussions yielded three themes:

1. Communication: We need to do a better job of communicating each organization's specific contributions to STEM -- from educators and nonprofits to companies and researchers -- to see where there are opportunities for alignment and gaps still left to be filled. More so, we need to speak the same language. As John Hosteny, director, Corporation for National and Community Service put it, "Nonprofits need to think with a business mindset; those that cannot speak to impact and return on investment for a corporate partner simply do not get the investment."

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Red FlagIn previous articles, I have occasionally mentioned “red flags” which every potential investor unconsciously listens for.

Other writers, like Guy Kawasaki, have irreverently called some of these “entrepreneur lies,” but I prefer to think of them as innocent over-enthusiasm or over-confidence that can kill your deal.

At any rate, here is my summary of the top ten from my experience with hundreds of elevator pitches, business plans, and executive presentations.

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SDon Draperlide decks are like pets. They live, breathe, and adapt to their environment - or at least they should. In each of my roles, I've have 2-3 decks at any time that I use to pitch a deal or sell a product.

At Buzzfeed, I use an advertiser deck and one for publishers. I customize these decks, in many cases for each meeting, and also update the boiler plate versions almost every day.

A deck is never perfect and every day you use it you get good feedback. I've probably revised the core Buzzfeed deck close to 100 times. Some tweaks are big, some are small.

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Entrepreneurs are small business people trying to get big. Very big, very fast!  They are one of the main engines that drive job creation and economic growth in our country. In fact, they start entire industries that keep jobs at home for decades.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was recently quoted in the LA Times saying “Making credit accessible to sound small businesses is crucial to our economic recovery, and so should be front and center among our current policy challenges."

Yet due to the depletion of small business stimulus reserves, hundreds of small business loans are currently on hold and lending is down. There are precious few entrepreneurs in DC -- Sen. Mark Warner is the exception to the rule. So it should come as no surprise that neither the Legislative body nor the Executive Branch intuitively understand how entrepreneurs think or how best to drive technological growth.  If they did, we wouldn’t be facing this shortage of funds at such a critical juncture.

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America, are you happy? The emotional words contained in hundreds of millions of messages posted to the Twitter website may hold the answer.

Computer scientist Alan Mislove at Northeastern University in Boston and colleagues have found that these "tweets" suggest that the west coast is happier than the east coast, and across the country happiness peaks each Sunday morning, with a trough on Thursday evenings. The team calls their work the "pulse of the nation".

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