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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.

Google - dollar sign logo 150pxThe end of Google Wave and rumors that the company is building a Facebook competitor has a lot of people talking about Google's need to get better at social. Fortune's article on Google's future growth last month, apart from highlighting absurdity a company becoming "too successful," speculates as to what Google will need to do in order to continue growing in the future. The article's authors dismiss Google Apps for Enterprise and move on to sexier fair, discussing what Google needs to do to be more "social." But it's clear that Google has big plans for the enterprise. First, of course, because Eric Schmidt has said so, but also because of the various steps the company is taking.

Why should Google focus on the enterprise instead of social networking sites? As pointed out by's CEO Aaron Levie, enterprise IT spending dwarfs online advertising spending. The $79.4 billion budget for federal IT spending alone is more than three times the $24.2 billion spent on online advertising in 2009, making Google Apps for Government look like a very smart business venture.

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Girls in the labNo patent?  No problem.

The results of a recent study challenge the standard notion that most businesses started by academics are based on patents (“Start-up model patently flawed” in Nature magazine, July 2010).

The study found that the majority of companies started by US academics are started without patents.  This is contrary to the generally accepted wisdom about how entrepreneurship occurs in a university, which usually goes something like this:  academics disclose their invention to universities, get it patented and then spin-out their company from the university.   This is actually only part of the entrepreneurial picture in universities — and a smaller part of the picture at that.

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Venture-capital firm Institutional Venture Partners said it raised a new $750 million fund, as the overall venture-fundraising environment begins to show some signs of improvement.

The Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, Calif., venture firm, which primarily invests in later financing rounds of start-ups as opposed to the earliest stages of a start-up, said its newest fund is larger than its 2007 fund that closed at $600 million. The new fund–dubbed IVP XIII–was also originally targeted to be $600 million but was oversubscribed, said IVP General Partner Todd Chaffee.

Mr. Chaffee said investor interest in the new fund was particularly driven by IVP’s results over the past few years, with the firm having taken stakes in hot start-ups such as micro-blogging service Twitter and online games company Zynga. Since IVP largely invests in start-ups when they are more mature, Mr. Chaffee said some of the risk is also dminished for an investor.

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NACEDA logo small

Add Us In Initiative:
Department of Labor Office program to develop and evaluate replicable models, strategies and policies to ensure that youth and adults with disabilities from diverse communities have access to a broader range of employment and mentoring opportunities. The program is designed to increase the ability of businesses owned, operated and controlled by African Americans; Asian Americans; Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals, and women to employ adults and youth with disabilities. Consortia applying for the cooperative agreement must have representation from a number of organization types. Deadline: September 1, 2010.

Disability Employment Initiative: The Department of Labor announced a solicitation for grant applications for approximately $22 million to fund programs that will improve educational, training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Funds will be awarded to state workforce agencies, which will collaborate with workforce investment boards and local areas. Grant awards will range from $1.5 to $6 million each to be spent over a three-year period. Closing date: September 8, 2010.

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The Nuclear_power_Flickr_James_Marvin_Phelps world is on the brink of a nuclear power renaissance, and developing countries may also benefit, according to researchers.

In a study published in Science this month (12 August) British researchers outlined a vision for flexible and more user-friendly nuclear technologies, as worries over the climate change, energy supply security, and depletion of fossil fuels, are overturning decades of hesitancy over the safety of nuclear power plants.

Robin Grimes, materials

researchers at Imperial College London and William Nuttall, senior lecturer in technology policy at the University of Cambridge, believe nuclear power will become viable for energy production in developing countries post-2030. "Outside currently established nuclear countries, flexible nuclear technologies will be especially attractive, reducing the need for grid infrastructure," Grimes told SciDev.Net.

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At the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, MD, researchers have developed one of the most powerful methods yet for redesigning life. By editing genomes on the computer, synthesizing them in the lab, and transplanting the genomes into cells, Venter Institute researchers can speed up the process of genetic engineering. Ultimately, they want to design and create microbes that efficiently produce clean fuels, vaccines, and other products.

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Bears emerge from months of hibernation with their muscles largely intact. Not so for people, who, if bedridden that long, would lose so much muscle they would have trouble standing.

Why muscles wither with age is captivating a growing number of scientists, drug and food companies, let alone aging baby boomers who, despite having spent years sweating in the gym, are confronting the body’s natural loss of muscle tone over time.

Comparisons between age groups underline the muscle disparity: An 80-year-old might have 30 percent less muscle mass than a 20-year-old. And strength declines even more than mass. Weight-lifting records for 60-year-old men are 30 percent lower than for 30-year-olds; for women the drop-off is 50 percent.

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An ambitious new ad campaign by Crispin Porter + Bogusky tries to convince kids that baby carrots are like Doritos. (But what about the cheese dust?!)

Can the carrot industry sex up its image by branding baby carrots as a munchworthy junk food a la Cheetos or Lay's Potato Chips? Crispin Porter + Bogusky seems to think so.

The high-profile ad agency is launching an ambitious $25 million campaign to help the carrot industry compete with the junk food industry. The campaign is being launched with the help of almost 50 carrot growers, including carrot behemoth Bolthouse Farms.

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Brazil, which has seen the number of foreign patients rise from 48,000 in 2005 to 180,000 last year--and is growing at a 30% clip year-over-year--is poised to draw still more from its neighbors and the U.S. thanks to shorter flights and a bump from futebol.

Brazilians endlessly repeat the old saw that the world thinks of only three things when it thinks of Brazil: samba, carnivale and football. But its healthcare industry would like to add a fourth--surgery. As part of Brazil’s efforts to leverage both the tourists and the infrastructure investments expected in the wake of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the country hosted its first medical tourism conference last week in São Paulo.

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50 Ways to Foster a Culture of InnovationAs your organization continues rebounding from the financial meltdown, here are 50 ways to ensure that it becomes increasingly conducive to ongoing innovation. Commit to a few of these today and make some magic. Your next step?

1. Remember that innovation requires no fixed rules or templates — only guiding principles. Creating a more innovative culture is an organic and creative act.

2. Wherever you can, whenever you can, always drive fear out of the workplace. Fear is “Public Enemy #1″ of an innovative culture.

3. Have more fun. If you’re not having fun (or at least enjoying the process) something is off.

4. Always question authority, especially the authority of your own longstanding beliefs.

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For the latest high growth private company financing news & data, sign up for the free CB Insights newsletter or follow us @cbinsights on Twitter.  You can also access CB Insights’ data for free.

The CB Insights team likes data and so on occasion, we examine other credible, external data sources.  We recently looked at Google Trends to see what it might suggest about what it suggests is happening with venture capital based on search volume trends.  The results as you’ll see below are counter-intuitive.

Globally, news related to venture capital has increased while search volume for the term “venture capital” has seemingly decreased as can be seen below.

google venture capital trends - global

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For entrepreneurs seeking venture capital, the pitch is everything.

Most investments in a start-up company, from the smallest “seed” financing that may be based on little more than an idea for a start-up, to a $50 million round for a profitable company preparing to go public, is preceded by an entrepreneur standing in a room explaining why venture capitalists should part with their money.

We asked Brian Jacobs, general partner with Emergence Capital Partners, a San Mateo, Calif.-based technology investor that is investing out of a $200 million fund raised in 2007, to take us behind the scenes of a typical company pitch and explain what goes through the mind of an investor as he’s watching and listening.

The slides below are a selection from an actual presentation made by Emergence Capital portfolio company InsideView Inc., a San Francisco-based company selling software that helps salespeople find new clients, improve existing relationships and close deals. The information is customized for each user and is provided through a Web-crawling search engine that finds and filters potentially important sales leads and information from in new social media sites and other emerging data sources. The presentation was shown to new investors, but eventually the company chose to accept the insiders’ investment proposal which resulted in an $11.5 million insider Series B financing in April from Emergence Capital, Rembrandt Venture Partners and Greenhouse Capital Partners. The company has now raised more than $25 million.

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