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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 is no greater country on Earth for entrepreneurship than America. In every category, from the high-tech world of Silicon Valley, where I live, to University R&D labs, to countless Main Street small business owners, Americans are taking risks, embracing new ideas and -- most importantly -- creating jobs.

America's future prosperity depends on our ability to maintain this lead. But today, it is getting harder and harder to maintain. A quick glance is the rear-view mirror reveals that other countries are catching up and at an alarming rate. Part of this is due to their determination to overtake us, but part is due to structural changes in the nature of entrepreneurship.

Startups are the lifeblood of our economy. In the past two decades, they have accounted for nearly all the net job growth in our country. Many of these companies are started by entrepreneurs, and are now household names: Google, Yahoo, eBay and Intel. But many more are true American success stories, out of the limelight, quietly creating jobs and securing our future.

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The other day, one of my colleagues asked me, "What exactly do you mean when you use the word 'innovation?'" Answering the question led to a productive discussion about what really inhibits innovation inside large organizations.

When I use the word innovation, I think of three interlocking components:

  • Insight or inspiration suggesting an opportunity to do something different to create value
  • An idea or plan to build an offering based on that insight or inspiration
  • The translation of that plan into a successful business (in simple terms, commercialization)

Obviously, each of these components carries significant complexity, but more often than not, they cover the basics of innovation.

The senior leaders I talk to believe that the bulk of their innovation challenges lie in the first two components. I suspect this is because the third piece looks like execution, and of course, large organizations know all about execution. And yet, my field experience suggests that it's this third component, not the first two, that actually blocks innovation.

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THOMAS L. FRIEDMANWent to a big Washington dinner last week. You know the kind: Large hall; black ties; long dresses. But this was no ordinary dinner. There were 40 guests of honor. So here’s my Sunday news quiz: I’ll give you the names of most of the honorees, and you tell me what dinner I was at. Ready?

Linda Zhou, Alice Wei Zhao, Lori Ying, Angela Yu-Yun Yeung, Lynnelle Lin Ye, Kevin Young Xu, Benjamin Chang Sun, Jane Yoonhae Suh, Katheryn Cheng Shi, Sunanda Sharma, Sarine Gayaneh Shahmirian, Arjun Ranganath Puranik, Raman Venkat Nelakant, Akhil Mathew, Paul Masih Das, David Chienyun Liu, Elisa Bisi Lin, Yifan Li, Lanair Amaad Lett, Ruoyi Jiang, Otana Agape Jakpor, Peter Danming Hu, Yale Wang Fan, Yuval Yaacov Calev, Levent Alpoge, John Vincenzo Capodilupo and Namrata Anand.

No, sorry, it was not a dinner of the China-India Friendship League. Give up?

O.K. All these kids are American high school students. They were the majority of the 40 finalists in the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search, which, through a national contest, identifies and honors the top math and science high school students in America, based on their solutions to scientific problems. The awards dinner was Tuesday, and, as you can see from the above list, most finalists hailed from immigrant families, largely from Asia.

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altState research and development budgets were challenged last year by an international recession but as I look across the nation, a handful of innovation-based state agencies continue to make progress even in difficult times. The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology is one of those.

In my role as president and CEO of Innovation America, a national organization with a mission to accelerate the growth of the entrepreneurial innovation economy in America, I look for best practice technology-based economic development agencies that are "game changers” in their respective states. OCAST is one of the best examples I have seen for carrying out a state’s initiative to develop its innovation economy.

OCAST has a robust pipeline of programs that includes applied research, health research, small-business innovation research (SBIR), research and development intern partnerships, nanotechnology, plant research, manufacturing excellence and technology commercialization. This pipeline is vital to the infrastructure that can help transform a state’s economy.

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altYale University, which has the second largest endowment behind Harvard and is the top performing endowment in the U.S., has increased its allocation to private equity, including venture capital, according to a report released yesterday. The endowment is boosting its private-equity allocation from 21 percent to 26 percent, despite having lost 26% of the value of its private-equity investments in 2009.

The decision, made at a June 2009 committee meeting, is a pleasant surprise for venture capital firms. The consensus in the industry has been that pullback from endowments, pension funds, and other big institutions that keep funds flowing to the global Silicon Valley will leave the venture industry at half its size within five years. But those were the optimistic folks. Others argued that poor returns in the VC industry was the main reason the for the pullback, and that as a result, the VC industry could be cut even further – or possibly even go away.

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When we heard ESPN was testing 3D at its new Innovation Lab at the newly rebranded ESPN Wide World of Sports, we just had to see it for ourselves. But while the fact that ESPN was testing 3D during a Globetrotters game caught our attention, after we arrived we discovered that ESPN did more than just change the name from Disney's Wide World of Sports. No, ESPN built a lab and a full production studio that is tied into its main one in Bristol via ESPN's fiber network -- so no need to bring in satellite trucks. There were new video boards erected around the facility and enough fiber was run through out the place to support more HD cameras then ESPN even owns. In addition, permanent HD cameras were installed throughout the facility which Disney hopes to leverage to eventually let you bring HD recordings of your little league tournament home. Now of course the lab and 3D was of the most interest to us and in there we found lots of HDTVs and of course a 3DTV, all with access to the main control room as well as all the cameras in the facility. We did get to check out the very same footage of 3D gold that evidently helped persuade The Masters to go 3D -- and we can see why, even the casual golf fan can easily see how much an extra dimension adds to the production. Overall we learned that ESPN is serious about testing out new gear and technology at this new facility, and the rebranding of the park is about more than just changing the signs.
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This paper articulates the opportunity of using an experimental business laboratory approach as a means of accelerating the creation, incubation and testing of new venture ideas. Such a strategy leads to the establishment of a micro-ecosystem of aspiring entrepreneurs and others in a business laboratory environment. The goal is to create a mini idea-supercollider, in which a microscopic ‘De Medici Effect’ (Johansson, 2004) can be achieved, with aspiring entrepreneurs with different ideas, experiences and disciplines meeting in a spirit of open innovation – the sum of the whole being much greater than the sum of the individual parts. The development of an ecosystem for idea generation and rapid testing using business simulation tools can accelerate the creation, mobilization and diffusion stages of the knowledge lifecycle (Birkinshaw and Sheehan, 2002) in a knowledge- driven entrepreneurship venture, while de-risking potential ventures before significant capital is applied.

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He was breathless, but determined.

This Navy veteran had worked an eight-hour shift until Saturday morning and then driven three hours from the Central Valley to participate in Catapult Innovation and Learning in San Jose. The program was half over, but as soon as he got the attention of 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology selectees Mike Beasley, Arnold Brown and Ed Young, he began his elevator speech.

First, he pulled out copies of his resume which included a new bachelors degree in information technology from DeVry University, host for the workshop on building aad financing growth companies along with the Bay Area Chapter of BDPA.

While serving in the U.S. Navy, he had served aboard several ships as a LAN administrator a decade, but he had not been able to find work in the field as a civilian for the past four years.

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brand imageEarth's population is now closing in on 6.5 billion, having tripled in the 20th century. Our use of water resources, however, actually has increased six-fold over that same time period!

With world population expected to increase by half over the next 50 years and with urbanization and industrialization growing at an alarming rate, especially in the most populous "developing" countries, our demand and hope for fresh water, sanitation and a clean environment are clearly in jeopardy.

More than a billion people today lack safe drinking water while moe than two billion lack adequate sanitation. The United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 4,000 children die every day of water borne diseases. Half of those facing sanitation challenges don't even have toilets, latrines or other means to separate human waste from daily life.

The effect on women and girls in particular is shocking. Half the girls who drop out of school in Sub-Saharan Africa do so because there are no facilities for their use and/or because they must spend that potential learning time carrying water long distances for family use.

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The Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance ( SARTA) has been chosen as one of six Innovation Hubs in the state, allowing the nonprofit to better market its clean-tech and med-tech efforts in the region.

The so-called iHubs will improve the state’s competitive efforts for economic development, job creation and partnerships with specific research clusters.

The goal is to build better collaboration between research institutions, startup technology companies, local governments, venture capitalists and economic development organizations, state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Secretary Dale Bonner said in a news release Friday.

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If you think we could use a few more jobs in the U.S. right about now, you should know about the Startup Visa, an idea that has been gaining momentum in the blogosphere since last spring. Last month, Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar introduced a bill that would create a new class of visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs who start companies (and attract funding for them) here.

Ex- Cantabrigian Paul Graham, an entrepreneur who sold an e-commerce company to Yahoo in the late 1990s and is now well known as the founder of Y Combinator, got things rolling last April with a post titled "The Founder Visa." Graham wrote:

The biggest constraint on the number of new startups that get created in the US is not tax policy or employment law or even Sarbanes-Oxley. It's that we won't let the people who want to start them into the country.

Letting just 10,000 startup founders into the country each year could have a visible effect on the economy. If we assume four people per startup, which is probably an overestimate, that's 2500 new companies. Each year. They wouldn't all grow as big as Google, but out of 2500 some would come close.

By definition these 10,000 founders wouldn't be taking jobs from Americans: it could be part of the terms of the visa that they couldn't work for existing companies, only new ones they'd founded. In fact they'd cause there to be more jobs for Americans, because the companies they started would hire more employees as they grew.
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Managing 'bright' ideas“Innovation” means different things to different people but, generally, it involves the application of novel ideas, products or processes for some purpose. But even if we can agree on “what” it is, do we understand “how” innovation happens?

There is a significant change taking place in the way that the process of innovation is understood. We can put this in the context of developments in the manageability of other areas of business activity in recent times.

“Selling” in the 1970s

Until about the 1970s in most organisations, “selling” was done by salesman who used skills with which they were born, rather than trained; they had a reputation for being overly friendly and free spirits! The concepts of describing the process of “selling”, of managing these people through the process and of training others who were not “born salesmen” to follow it were not given much credibility. But then, at about that time, came the realisation that the activities of selling do follow patterns and we can identify stages and describe sales funnels, measure what is happening, and so on.

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