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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 male executives from the Fortune 500 decided they needed to form a “group” to discuss all the babble about social media.They kept the group secret for fear of being discovered.

The goal of the meeting was to help each other understand all this social stuff and they asked a social media therapist to come into the group and help them with their confusion and to clarify issues so they could sound intelligent about the subject when speaking to others.

The Session:

The group met in one of the executive homes on Thursday night of every week. The forum was free-flowing with the “Social Media Therapist” facilitating the dialog. The sessions typically sounded something like this:

The C-Suite: We hired someone who says they had experience using the technology and asked them to manage our presence and teach others in the company how to use it as well. Our problem is that no one understands the person we hired when we ask questions about how to use the technology.

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tuningfork_aug10.jpgWhen entrepreneurs pitch their companies, they focus on a variety of things. Some make dazzling PowerPoints. Some make sure to include a nice graph predicting "hockey stick" growth. Some feature their team, their team's experience. Some actually do feature their product.

But few demonstrate it with quite the skill and success of Twilio's Developer Evangelist John Britton. Twilio helps developers add voice and SMS capabilities to their apps. And sure, you could explain how Twilio works. You can have slides that explain your product's capabilities. Or, as Britton did at a recent New York Tech Meetup, you can just do one better and code a demo live in front of your audience.

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AS President Obama and Congress search for ways to jump-start job creation in our stalled economy, their best strategy may be right under their noses — in the voluminous backlogged files of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

This is the agency, after all, that issues the patents that technology startups and other small businesses need to attract venture capital to pay salaries. Three-fourths of executives at venture capital-backed startups say patents are vital to getting financing, according to the 2008 Berkeley Patent Survey, a national study of patents and entrepreneurship. And startups are responsible for almost all the new jobs created in the United States since 1977, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation.

Unfortunately, since 1992, Congress has diverted more than $750 million in patent fees to other purposes. That has left the patent office itself underfinanced and burdened with a backlog of 1.2 million applications awaiting examination, more than half of which have not had even a first review.

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Sally Goodsell, CEO Finance South EastDear readers,

Welcome to the third and final edition of the Ready for Equity!2™ Newsletter. Ready for Equity!2™ is a Leonardo da Vinci project which was launched in October 2008 to accelerate the expansion of emerging early-stage equity investment markets in Europe by developing and implementing training programmes for entrepreneurs and investors.

This Newsletter will be the last one issued by the project; the next newsletter you will receive from us will be sent from the Ready for Equity! Academy™, a pan-European entity created by the project partnership to sustain the training material and curricula developed in the framework of the four year project and to make them available to beneficiaries in Europe and worldwide.

Over the course of the last four years, we have shared best practices and compared tools and mechanisms in place throughout Europe to develop two all embracing training sets aimed to facilitate the capacity building process of Business Angels and fund seeking entrepreneurs to prepare them for their funding journey.

The Academy’s training programmes are tailored to the participant’s level of knowledge and expertise and cover all topics relevant in the informal investment market for market participants, professionals, Business Angel Network managers, and other actors involved in supporting SMEs and Entrepreneurship in their region. We strongly believe that the RfE!™ training will bring professionalism and formality to the world’s emerging business angel markets, and experience from the project has already proven the impact of the training modules on the development of informal investment markets and a stimulation of cross boarder investments.

The RfE! Team invites you to celebrate the launch of the Ready for Equity! Academy™, on 21st September 2010 in Győr, Hungary, following the successful completion of the Ready for Equity!2™ project.

Sally Goodsell, CEO Finance South East

Less than a month after making news for collecting its second round of seed funding, Cambridge-based online clothing exchange ThredUP is heading for San Francisco.

The news was first reported by Scott Kirsner on Innovation Economy. ThredUP co-founder James Reinhart confirmed that he has signed a lease on office space in San Francisco, and he and five other employees will move, while two others remain in the Boston area.

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Lawrence Aragon, editor in chief of the Thomson Reuters publication The Venture Capital Journal, has compiled a list of 10 young venture capitalists who, he says, “are poised to do great things.”

Each budding start-up investor that makes Mr. Aragon’s “Hot Prospects” list is 35 or younger and none have made a great impact in the world of V.C. — yet.

Mr. Aragon writes:

While you may not be familiar with Chi-Hua Chien, 32, of Kleiner Perkins, Phin Barnes, 34, of First Round, Alex Kinnier, 33, of Khosla Ventures, Ken Howery, 34, of Founders Fund or Ann Miura-Ko, 33, of Floodgate, we’re sure you will be in the next several years.

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a big groups of friends helps odds of survivalA meta-study covering more than 300,000 participants across all ages reveals that adults get a 50 percent boost in longevity if they have a solid social network

A long lunch out with co-workers or a late-night conversation with a family member might seem like a distraction from other healthy habits, such as going to the gym or getting a good night's sleep. But more than 100 years' worth of research shows that having a healthy social life is incredibly important to staying physically healthy. Overall, social support increases survival by some 50 percent, concluded the authors behind a new meta-analysis.

The benefit of friends, family and even colleagues turns out to be just as good for long-term survival as giving up a 15-cigarette-a-day smoking habit. And by the study's numbers, interpersonal social networks are more crucial to physical health than exercising or beating obesity.

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There's nothing like a little prodding from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to get rich people to part with their money--or half of it, at least. The pair has convinced over 30 of their fellow billionaires (and a handful of other millionaires) to sign the Giving Pledge, described on the pledge's website as "an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the wealthiest American families and individuals to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes."

Many of the pledge-signers are well-known. T. Boone Pickens, Jeff Skoll, George Lucas, Barron Hilton, David Rockefeller, and Michael Bloomberg are just some of the big names roped into the project. Of course, it's not as if each person on the list will simply give away half of their cash on an appointed date. Each pledge-signer has a unique plan, as detailed in their individual pledges (available here).

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Offering a cash prize to encourage innovation is all the rage. Sometimes it works rather well

A CURIOUS cabal gathered recently in a converted warehouse in San Francisco for a private conference. Among them were some of the world’s leading experts in fields ranging from astrophysics and nanotechnology to health and energy. Also attending were entrepreneurs and captains of industry, including Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, and Ratan Tata, the head of India’s Tata Group. They were brought together to dream up more challenges for the X Prize Foundation, a charitable group which rewards innovation with cash. On July 29th a new challenge was announced: a $1.4m prize for anyone who can come up with a faster way to clean oil spills from the ocean.

The foundation began with the Ansari X Prize: $10m to the first private-sector group able to fly a reusable spacecraft 100km (62 miles) into space twice within two weeks. It was won in 2004 by a team led by Burt Rutan, a pioneering aerospace engineer, and Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft. Other prizes have followed, including the $10m Progressive Automotive X Prize, for green cars that are capable of achieving at least 100mpg, or its equivalent. Peter Diamandis, the entrepreneur who runs the foundation, says he has become convinced that “focused and talented teams in pursuit of a prize and acclaim can change the world.”

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Training and Coaching InnovatorsIn order for any company to meet its goals and to achieve sustainable Innovation , proper training and coaching is an essential though often overlooked imperative. But how can a New Product Development (NPD) team represent the philosophy of its organization if the attitude, culture and processes are not continually reinforced? Proper hiring, training and coaching is essential to finding and keeping the right people for the right job – and having them trained in their role and processes on the NPD team in order to perform their personal best.

Training and coaching doesn’t stop after the initial phase. Continuity is key. New techniques, processes and best practices should always be shared to foster a constant culture of Innovation. From top to bottom, from executives to managers to newcomers, everyone must be included in training and coaching programs to be on the same page and for the New Product Development process to go as smoothly as possible. In fact, even the trainers and coachers themselves need ongoing training and coaching to prevent their practices from going stale. Sustained Innovation is a constantly evolving process.

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A scheme run for the past 15 years to give life science PhD students more commercial awareness has been successful in developing entrepreneurial skills, according to an independent review.

The review, commissioned by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) shows that its Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme gives early career researchers an edge in terms of encouraging entrepreneurial skills and enhancing future career prospects.

According to the review, participating in the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme competition prepares scientists to move into industry, where their improved entrepreneurial skills are highly valued. There is some evidence to suggest that past participants perceive their earning potential as greater following the competition and the review indicates that the skills gained are complementary to those acquired during a PhD.

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At Kevin Werbach's Supernova conference this morning: Wharton professor David Chu led founder Josh Kopelman, now of Conshohocken's First Round Capital; Marc Berejka of the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Andy Weissman of Betaworks in a discussion of how startup funding has changed.

They didn't say much about some obvious changes - the way there's less money in venture-capital funds than there was ten years ago, and fund returns are lousy, making it tough to raise more. Instead they focused on the online social networks and local groups by which "angel investors" and others with capital find good ideas and people they trust:

Kopelman: "The Internet has changed... the power system… When I cofounded my first company, Infonautics, in 1991 the ecosystem was v different… You would go to venture capital, and the (specialty VC trade) press would write about you." From places like Philly, as a result, "my ability to connect with VCs anywhere in the country was limited."

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