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Founded by Rich Bendis

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.

Earlier this month, Americans woke up to the bad news that their education system was just "average" in the developed world. Worse news, however, was that Shanghai, China took the top spot. For a country already in a declinist mood, this was a blow. Perhaps not even U.S. President Barack Obama thought the future would arrive so quickly: As he told a group of educators at the White House earlier this year, the "nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow." 

America is rightfully worried about its sinking competitiveness, and does indeed need to improve its education system. But it could win the battle and lose the war, because India's and China's successes aren't due to their education systems, but despite them. You've probably heard of Indian outsourcing hotspots like Bangalore and Chennai, but it's not just call centers and software sweatshops Americans now need to worry about: Technology entrepreneurship is booming all over in China and India, and is beginning to innovate; these startups will soon start competing with Silicon Valley. The next Google could well be cooked up in a garage in Guangzhou or Ahmedabad.

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The global recovery is set to continue, commodity prices are going to boom, but there are threats that could take down the economy, according to Danske Bank.

Their 5 themes to watch include are largely optimistic, but there are also serious concerns the debt threat could rise and cripple global markets.

Even if that threat becomes real, it should still be a great year for equities, according to Danske.

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My advice for the new year: go East and South, young man and woman … and investor. America, Europe, and Japan are stagnant and ponderous. More and more, in the coming years, the real moving and shaking will happen elsewhere.

“2011 will be the year Android explodes!” cried a recent headline, citing a new Broadcom chipset that will reportedly make sub-$100 unsubsidized smartphones ubiquitous. Maybe so, but I second MG’s skepticism: North American carriers will fight this tooth and nail, and even when they lose, we’ll still have to wait for the three-year contracts that are status quo here to finally die. If that chipset is real, though, the headline’s not wrong; Android will explode … in the developing world, where virtually all phone service is pre-paid. (As, ahem, I predicted 20 months ago.)

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oDesk is a marketplace for online work teams. Each month, it publishes a report with information the service collects from its own community of employers and job prospectors.

For its year-end report, oDesk looked at prior data from its own database of 890,000 contractors and 220,000 employers. The service has more than a million users and over $12 million in work performed each month.

The company used that data to report about the top markets, categories and jobs for 2010, as well as what to expect in 2011.

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AS a national strategy, China is trying to build an economy that relies on innovation rather than imitation. Clearly, its leaders recognize that being the world’s low-cost workshop for assembling the breakthrough products designed elsewhere — think iPads and a host of other high-tech goods — has its limits.

So can China become a prodigious inventor? The answer, in truth, will play out over decades — and go a long way toward determining not only China’s future, but also the shape of the global economy.

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As the sunset of 2010 gives way to the dawn of 2011, here at the Digest we resist the holiday temptation to look back over the challenges and highlights of the year gone by, and instead once again roll out our crystal ball as we list the Digest’s 10 Biofuels Predictions for 2011.

Last year’s predictions: 6 marks out of 10

For our 2010 batch of predictions, we give ourselves 6 marks out of 10.

We gave ourselves 1 full mark for predicting the spread of Low Carbon Fuel Standard activity, the boom in renewable chemicals, a jatropha revival sparked by new investments in SG Biofuels, and increased traction in heterotrophic algae and cyanobacteria.

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The naïve entrepreneur thinks he can relax, after he finally cashes the check from a professional investor, but in reality that’s when the work and the pressure starts. His first reality reset is that now, maybe for the first time, he really has a boss, or several bosses, and often very demanding ones at that.

Angel and venture capital investors rarely just give you the cash, and stand back to wait for you to spend it the way you want. First of all, they are usually more experienced than you in your own business domain, so they have strong views on what it takes to succeed, and probably would prefer it done their way.

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Happy New Year from Rich Bendis and the teams at Innovation America and The Delmarva Group, LLC

Rick Snyder makes no secret of his urbanist tendencies or his belief that Michigan’s economy requires a healthy Detroit. He said as much during his Election Night victory speech.

The incoming Republican governor even tapped Dave Bing, Detroit’s Democratic mayor to serve as his inauguration’s master of ceremonies.

To be sure, Lansing can only help a Detroit that helps itself. But that’s finally happening.

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If you bounce from project to project and have a hard time focusing on just one, listen to this interview with Greg Thomson.

Lack of focus is what kept his previous businesses from reaching their potential. Once he learned how to work with his innate curiosity (not eliminate it, but harness its power), he made Tall Tree Games into a hit casual game company that generated $6+ million in its last fiscal year.

Listen to this program to hear how he’s doing it.




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As part of my entrepreneurship classes, I teach my students to raise capital. When people find this out, they often ask one question: What’s the most important thing I need to know about raising money? For entrepreneurs, four lessons are especially important.

1. For most entrepreneurs, seeking outside financing isn’t worth your time. Only a small fraction of new businesses obtain money from someone who is not a founder of the business.  Therefore, unless your business has a lot of hard assets that can be used as collateral for a loan, or one of a handful of startups that has the super-high growth potential and exit plan to attract accredited angel investors and venture capitalists, seeking outside money is unlikely to be fruitful.  You are better off developing a less capital-intensive business model and financing the startup yourself than you are spending your time trying to raise money.

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2010 saw an explosion of 3-D products for consumers and also the arrival of augmented reality as a mainstream technology. In both areas, however, only some commercial implementations proved ready for prime time.

3-D TVs, Cameras, and Camcorders Galore

3-D was a hot topic at the start of the year, partly because of the 3-D blockbuster movie Avatar, which came out last December. Many predicted that 3-D technology would move quickly from the movie theater into the home, and major electronics companies including Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Sony, Philips, and Toshiba announced plans to release 3-D televisions and Blu-ray players ("Home 3-D: Here, or Hype?" and "Here Come the High-Definition 3-D TVs"). But obstacles—particularly the need to wear 3-D glasses costing upwards of $100 per pair and the limited amount of 3-D content available to watch (a handful of DVDs and few TV transmissions)—have prevented 3-D TVs from becoming wildly popular, at least for now ("Will 3-D Make the Jump from Theater to Living Room?").

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