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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.

Some of your friends are doing it. People who do it are in the front pages and web almost every day. Even President Obama is talking about it. So should you do it? Should you join the millions of people every year who take the plunge and start their first ventures? I've learned in my own years as an entrepreneur -- and now an entrepreneurship professor -- that there is a gut level "fit" for people who are potential entrepreneurs. There are strong internal drivers that compel people to create their own business. I've developed a 2-minute Isenberg Entrepreneur Test, below, to help you find out. Just answer yes or no. Be honest with yourself -- remember from my last post: the worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

1. I don't like being told what to do by people who are less capable than I am.

2. I like challenging myself.

3. I like to win.

4. I like being my own boss.

5. I always look for new and better ways to do things.

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Kids in Fort Wayne are getting a chance to show their creative side with Create-A-Camp at the Arts United Center.

It's a week-long camp to help kids, grades 3-8, express themselves using pantomime, improvisation, theater games and through writing.

Each camper will also create their own original showcase.

The Fort Wayne Youth Theatre and the Arts United Center designed Create-A-Camp.

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Alan Patricof is one of the most experienced and successful VCs around.  He was one of the founders of Apax Partners which is one of the most successful venture and private equity companies in European history and his investment successes include Apple Computer and AOL.  Most recently he founded an early stage venture fund called Greycroft Partners based in New York and they have just closed their second fund.

Raising the money for that second fund was hard work, even for a man with Alan’s experience, and he has written at length on exactly what they had to do on Business Insider.  The whole post is well worth a read.  I’m going to bring out three highlights.

First the stats – they had to talk to a LOT of people:

We had 515 contacts, of this, roughly 250 passed for various reasons and 100 were non-responsive. We had 154 visits, 97 due diligence requests, 33 second visits, and 12 reference requests, to ultimately produce 9 institutional investors. 

That’s less than a 2% yield of all contacts and 6% of first meetings.

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Brussels. Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announces today nearly € 6.4 billion of European Commission investment in research and innovation, the EC press service announced.

The package, the biggest ever, covers a vast range of scientific disciplines, public policy areas and commercial sectors. This funding will advance scientific boundaries, increase European competitiveness and help solve societal challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population. Around 16,000 participants from research organisations, universities and industry, including about 3,000 SMEs, will receive funding. Grants will be awarded through "calls for proposals" (invitations to bid) and evaluations over the next 14 months. Many calls will be formally published on 20th July. This package is an economic stimulus expected to create more than 165.000 jobs. It is also a long-term investment in a smarter, sustainable and more inclusive Europe. It is a key element within the EU's Europe 2020 Strategy and in particular the Innovation Union
Flagship, which will be launched in autumn 2010.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis and towards sustainable and socially equitable growth. This European package will contribute to new and better products and services, a more competitive and greener Europe, and a better society with a higher quality of life. We are offering researchers and innovators €6.4 billion for cutting-edge projects focusing on big economic and societal challenges: climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population. This is a huge and efficient economic stimulus and an investment in our future."

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Google the word "entrepreneur" and the search engine will respond with more than 30 million results to your query. However, Google "reinventing entrepreneurship" and the results will number only in the hundreds.

While superficial, this experiment reveals a worrying condition.

Entrepreneurship has a critical function in the economy. Entrepreneurs are responsible for substantial employment generation and create important spill-over effects that have a significant impact on long-run regional-employment growth rates. Entrepreneurial firms account for substantial increases in productivity and economic growth and they modulate volatility in labour markets.

Perhaps most important, they are crucial to the development and commercialization of innovation.

The need to drive innovation capacity in industry is more urgent than ever. In addition to the staggering challenges of the economic crisis, current industry outlooks increasingly have embedded in them a collective note of warning that deserves our attention. Underlying structural changes, in economic liberalization, capital market developments, technological advances and deep demographic shifts, as well as the changes required to sustain competitiveness, are having a destabilizing effect on many firms.

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As summer heats up, we take a look at the leading players, and who to watch, in the world of demand response.

Ah, summertime! Nothing but long days complete with ice cream cones, sandy beaches and peak load management. As temperatures smolder in the 90s after hitting triple digits early in the season, electricity demand is soaring around the country, hitting near record highs in some regions.

While demand response was already a hot topic in smart grid circles (not to mention load shedding, which has been around longer than the phrase 'smart grid'), it has become absolutely necessary during these periods of critical peak demand. And this might be just the beginning. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimated there was a reduction of 37 gigawatts in peak demand from demand response in 2009, and FERC projected that the figure could jump to 188 gigawatts in 2019.

Demand response is also shifting these days from just shedding that critical peak load to offering more constant management, a trend that is altering the field, creating opportunities for the current players, and carving openings for other companies looking to get in on the action.

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An imminent swarm of tiny quakes beneath western North America could help seismologists prepare for a big one — but only if they can learn to interpret the tremors, finds Naomi Lubick.

For the past few weeks, seismologists at the University of Washington in Seattle have been on high alert. Any day now, they expect a flurry of microtremors deep under the nearby Olympic Peninsula, just as occurs roughly every 12–14 months. And when that wave of vibrations comes along, the researchers will be ready to catch it.

Over the past year, the seismology team has set up an elaborate net — an array of more than 100 seismic sensors planted in the ground throughout the peninsula's mountains. When those instruments start picking up signs of the tremors, the researchers will rush back out to install extra seismometers above the spots where the earth is shuddering. Every few days the scientists will tend to the sensors, replacing batteries and downloading data, with the hope of capturing as much information as possible about the seismic events underfoot.

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With half of the world’s population now living in cities or towns, the future will depend more than ever on building sustainable urban communities with three key factors: potable water, reliable power and efficient transportation.

That was the message at a 27 May climate change forum sponsored by Hitachi Ltd. and featuring panels organized by AAAS and The Brookings Institution. The forum, the second in a series sponsored by Hitachi, examined the growing pressures on the world’s cities and some of the strategies, such as “smart” power grids, that could help ensure a more livable urban future both in the United States and globally.

The challenges are complex, driven by demographic trends, aging infrastructure, inefficient use of energy and water, multiple and overlapping governmental and regulatory jurisdictions, and other issues. But the imperatives are clear, forum participants said: Find better ways of managing water, power, and transportation, or suffer the consequences of dramatic and dynamic changes in the urban landscape.

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Pan-european startup programme Seedcamp has released the names of the teams appearing at the Mini Seedcamp London next week. Seedcamp says they “saw many teams applying with innovative ideas in the mobile space and we are seeing more and more dedicated, smaller applications adressing very specific markets.”

Teams applied from all over Europe and beyond, and there is a trend towards self-financing and bootstrapping but the “quality [of teams] is growing from strength to strength each year”. Personally I am not surprised they are doing that given the dearth of early stage funding right now, but, perversely this lack of funding, especially in Europe, does rather concentrate the mind on what startups should be doing. There’s nothing like a downturn for sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

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Imagine you’re a major e-commerce player and you need a mobile Web strategy. You have to navigate a bunch of fast-changing technologies — hyperlocal, social Web, payments — with little precedent and high capital costs. What do you do?

You think about the customer. Three years after the iPhone, those companies are finally getting a handle on how to leverage the smartphone, says Jason Taylor, VP of Global Product Strategy of Usablenet, a mobile Web development company that has built sites for a litany of major clients including Amtrak, Bloomingdales (M), Crate & Barrel, Aetna (AET), Brookstone, JetBlue (JBLU), CVS (CVS), Staples (SPLS), American Airlines (AA), Marriott Hotels (MAR), Sears (SHLD) and American Eagle (AEO).

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Singapore Swim8 billion smackers. That's what Las Vegas Sands spent constructing Marina Bay Sands, the world's most expensive standalone resort that looks more like a cruise boat perched atop a 55-floor skyscraper than any fully earthbound structure.

Not to mention, as you make your way to the rooftop (after, you know, spending some time to take a canal ride in the shopping center, or to poke about one of the building's 1600 casino slot machines, or to just sit back and enjoy the fish bouillon that Mario Batali has catered specifically for your taste buds), you discover that - WOW - there's a pool here 3 times the size of any aquatic compartment Michael Phelps may have competed in during the Olympics. Don't worry, if you're planning on taking a few laps pre-boardroom meetings, you won't flip over the edge anytime soon -- there's a catchment area if you're really leaning too close to catch the city views.

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