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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 best way to predict the future is to invent it,” wrote American advertising guru Allen Kay. Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group founder Steve W. Gilbert put it in more action-oriented terms: “Don’t predict the future, build it.”

These sentiments sum up the enduring legacy of the North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (ND EPSCoR), a North Dakota University System program launched in 1986 to build an exemplary research infrastructure, develop human resources, and increase technology transfer from universities to the commercial sector.

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The unemployment rate in Silicon Valley may be higher than the 9% national average, but that’s not making it any easier for some young technology start-ups looking to hire engineers.

Todd McKinnon, the co-founder and chief executive of San Francisco software start-up Okta Inc., calls the competition for top talent “a war.” His company, which this year raised $10 million in Series A funding from venture firm Andreessen Horowitz and angel investors, plans to spend 80% of its new capital on salaries, mostly for engineers.

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I spent two weeks of December in Chile as a guest of Professor Cristóbal García, Director of EmprendeUC at the Catholic University of Chile, which just signed up a 3-year collaboration partnership with Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program.

I did a keynote on innovation hubs at the newly created DoFuture program, spoke at Santiago’s Startup Weekend on Customer and Agile Development, and at a Conference in Patagonia supported by the Ministry of Economy’s Innovation Division.

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As states become increasingly aware of the impact that startups and angel investing can have on local economies, public policy strategies are evolving that promote more investment in entrepreneurial companies.

More than twenty states currently have tax credits for early stage investment. These credits range from 10 to more than 50 percent.

In Georgia, Minnesota, and Connecticut angel investors played significant roles in getting tax credit legislation passed and signed into law.

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Five years ago, Staples made it a corporate priority to cut its carbon dioxide emissions. The executives at the office supply giant decided, however, that whatever methods they chose—improving efficiency, changing operations, or buying low-carbon energy—the effort also had to make financial sense. At the time, no one could argue that buying solar panels was a good investment, as payback periods for recouping capital were typically measured not in years but in decades.

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Welcome to the New Year 2011! You’ve probably already made your resolutions, but if not, I suggest a renewed commitment to finding happiness and satisfaction in your work. After all, most of us spend more hours in this role than any other, and life is too short to spend most of your life unhappy.

If you haven’t tried it, one way to be happier at work is to be an entrepreneur, according to a recent survey in the UK, and an older one in the US. This is despite all the risks and stresses associated with starting and running a business and the fact that business owners do make a bit less than other executives.

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THE global property bust that pulled the world into recession in 2008 began to lift in 2010. House prices turned up in Britain and stabilised in America (chart 1) but slid further in Spain. The process of deleveraging kept rich-world inflation subdued (chart 2).

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Connecticut has chosen a Missouri-based equity and venture capital firm to manage a $72 million investment pool aimed at growing small businesses.

The new funds come out of a provision in the recently passed jobs bill, which revised the state's Insurance Reinvestment Tax Credit program to allow money managers to invest in any Connecticut-based business, not only insurance-related ones.

St. Louis-based Advantage Capital Partners, which was certified by the State Department of Economic and Community Development to manage funds raised from insurers doing business in Connecticut, selected Avon-based Ironwood Capital to identify potential companies for investments.

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Cleveland, OH, January 4, 2011 JumpStart Ventures, the non-profit that invests in and partners with innovative, early-stage companies in Northeast Ohio, closed four investments – putting $800,000 in four early-stage companies –  in the past two months. The recent investments bring JumpStart Ventures’ investing totals for 2010 to $3.1 million via 15 investments.
 
JumpStart Ventures’ most recent investments were made in new portfolio companies MedCity Media and Caralon Global. Cleveland, OH-based MedCity Media has developed an online news service and content generation model specific to the healthcare industry. It plans to use the funding to add Raleigh/Durham, NC and Philadelphia, PA to its list of demonstration markets, which already includes Cleveland and Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN. Caralon Global is a Cleveland company developing and commercializing an ultra-thin, highly efficient insulation product. The seed funding will help the startup complete life-span testing on its patent-pending vacuum insulated panel that reduces heat transfer better than traditional fiberglass or polyurethane products.
 
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At its core, The Brainzooming Group helps organizations become more successful by rapidly expanding the range of strategic options they consider. We then help them prioritize and plan for implementing the strongest alternative. Since many organizations are challenged right now in determining what social networking means for them, we’re doing lots of work on social media strategy.

We’re partnered with Social Business Strategies and its founder Nate Riggs to help clients get a quick handle on smart moves into this area. How quick? One client, after a full-day, multi-organization planning session said, “What we did today would have taken us six months on our own.”

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John Paul Titlow over at ReadWriteWeb.com reports that this year proved to be a strong one for online employment, as more and more took to the Web to find work, where an increasing number of jobs are for employers in other geographic areas, according to a report released by Elance.

Elance reported its one-millionth job listing, as an annually-growing number of job seekers and freelancers use the site to find work. In total, the site saw 375,000 new listings in 2010, a 40% increase from last year. Web workers are cumulatively now earning over $100 million per year through the site.

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