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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. has been much discussion about VCs doing seed funding in the past year.  I’ve written about it myself (Is VC Seed Funding Dead?) and (Is There Really a Signaling Problem with VC Seed Funding?).

Short summary of my posts:

  1. There is a structural reason that VCs are investing at early stages,
  2. Many (Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, True Ventures, GRP Partners, Mike Hirshland at Polaris Ventures) do it the right way – we treat it as a normal investment and we don’t have a “options” strategy with our investment.  I’ve done
  3. Many firms do it in a way that can be more detrimental to entrepreneurs.  They either do too many seed investments (for which they can spend no quality time with any) or they treat it as an option (“if you succeed come back and see us and we’ll match any term sheet you get”) – they view it as a sort of “right of first refusal.”
  4. seed investments in the past year and they are 100% referenceable.

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Since the economic downturn, small business owners seeking funding for operation and growth are finding it increasingly difficult to secure financing from banks and commercial lending institutions. As Project Director and Business Consultant for a non-profit organization and providing Technical Assistant to small businesses seeking funding through the SBA Community Express Loan program, several of the SBA lenders that I work with admitted being reluctant to lend but feel a little ease since SBA guarantees 80 percent of the loan programs.

What does this mean to small businesses? When traditional bank financing is unavailable, small businesses need alternative business financing sources to start or stay in business! To help, here are 7 alternative financing options for small businesses.

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Whatever your entrepreneurial aspirations, there's a city to match your needs, accelerate your company's growth and improve your quality of life. Which is the one for you? Entrepreneur identifies 50 cities and 10 lifestyles energizing businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Even in harsh economic times, America is still the land of opportunity, especially for entrepreneurs with the vision, ambition and flexibility to follow that opportunity wherever it may lead. In an increasingly connected world, no longer are businesses or their owners tethered to one spot on the map: Whether you're sizing up a regional opportunity, looking for a change of scenery or simply desiring a certain lifestyle, there's a location and culture that's perfect for you.

The challenge is identifying which spot is the best fit. Entrepreneur selected 10 contemporary American lifestyles and 50 related cities to complement all kinds of business types. Whether you're looking for tropical breezes, crisp mountain air, crowded city streets or wide, open spaces, they're all here.

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Research Roundup: Where's the Recovery?If you stop and think about it, you might think it a bit odd that everybody is still talking about the Great Recession when the economy has been growing for a full calendar year.

Except, of course, that it certainly doesn’t feel like a recovery, does it? That are two reasons for that: job growth and consumer spending, both of which are pretty tepid.

There are plenty of people who want to sing the praises of small businesses at a time like this, because they expect small businesses to pull our collective economic chestnuts out of the fire by creating jobs.

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You hear the word ‘alignment’ thrown out a lot in business conversations. And while it’s a wonderful thing to aspire to, it’s hard to achieve – particularly in entrepreneurial settings between the venture capitalist and the entrepreneur. It’s there, after all, that the stakes are high and there’s the ever-present risk of dysfunctional behavior leading to a Start-Up Soap Opera.

Ever since I began the research for my book, I have been spending time thinking about why VC-entrepreneur alignment is so elusive. And so when the Kauffman Foundation asked me to give a presentation to their recent class of young VCs, I decided to take the opportunity to develop a few thoughts that teed up the key issues.

I concluded that despite all the aspirational rhetoric about VCs becoming more “entrepreneur-friendly,” there are structural reasons why VCs and entrepreneurs are not always aligned. In negotiating term sheets, performing the inside-outside financing dance, discussing exit scenarios – and many other elements of the start-up journey - misalignment between VCs and entrepreneurs is common, natural and inevitable.

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wind turbinesThe United States has been called the Saudi Arabia of wind. But for the first time ever, China has exceeded the U.S. in newly installed wind capacity.

In a report released Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Energy details how all old records of wind power have been broken. In 2009, the U.S. added roughly 10,000 megawatts of new capacity--that's 40% more than was added the previous year.

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How do you run a healthy community?

It’s one of the questions I’m asked most often as the Chief Branding Officer of an Internet marketing company. Once you get people on your site, how do you show them it’s a safe place to engage? How do you encourage them to interact with one another? How do you grow this “community” thing, anyway?

While your process for community building will change depending on your site and your goals, there are a few questions I always ask myself when evaluating a potential client’s site. There are a few key areas that, if focused on, can really increase the “socialness” of a small business Website. You may want to ask yourself the same questions when evaluating your own site.

Do You Have Comment/Site Guidelines?

This is the page on your site that tells people how they should act/behave while they are there. While just having it doesn’t mean people will adhere to it, this is your chance to state, in public, what kind of a community you’re looking to grow. By laying out the actions you will and will not tolerate, you show people what you’re about and the rules they need to adhere to in order to play. It also gives you a leg to stand on when trying to enforce order and boot someone out. (Not that you want to do that.)

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Science can drive both intellectual and commercial dynamism, and when money is tight, it needs to do both, the new UK Science Minister David Willetts said when he made his first major speech at the Royal Institution in London last month.

“Emolument matters. Public spending on science, just like everything else, has to stand up to rigorous economic scrutiny,” Willetts said to an audience anxious for clues to where the axe will fall in the UK spending review (for which read announcement of cuts to public sector budgets), that will happen in October.

One of the most frequently used arguments to support research relates to the benefits – often unanticipated – which accrue from blue skies research. “The surprising paths which serendipity takes us down is a major reason why we need to think harder about impact,” Willetts said, adding, “There is no perfect way to assess impact, even looking backwards at what has happened.”

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jasoncalacanis7.jpgThis is a reprint of Jason Calacanis's latest "Jason Nation" newsletter, to which you can subscribe here.

I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. -- Michael Jordan

“Is the internet bubble going to pop? When?”

“Should I sell my company now, or wait and sell it for more next year?”

“Should I raise money now before everything collapses?”

I’m constantly asked these questions. Used to keep me up at night, these questions did. Now? Well, they’re so burned into my brain that they are instinct.

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Last week saw the release of two significant reports on angel investing. In the US, super-angel Ron Conway presented the results of an audit his company, SV Angel, had conducted on the 500+ investments it has made over the past 12 years. Meanwhile, in the UK, Professors Colin Mason and Richard Harrison published an annual report on the state of angel investing in Britain.

At first glance, the differences between these two reports seem mostly about American vs. British style: the Californian Conway laid out his data casually before a TechCrunch conference, while the British professors wrote a formal, 100-page study that was distributed through a government website.

But closer examination shows that there is also a substantive distinction, and it’s a profound one. Whereas Conway’s short talk focused almost entirely on the performance of startups and the returns that angel investors like him have achieved,

Mason and Harrison used their 100 pages to talk about every other possible topic—levels and types of investments made, tax incentives, co-investment structures and much else—and made merely one passing, vague reference to how these investments actually worked out.

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Nesjavellir geothermal plantMost green technologies gather energy above ground, but like Jules Verne, we want to take you on A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Alright, not even close to the center, but deep down nonetheless, where naturally occurring hot water can be turned into clean energy above ground.

It is estimated that the amount of heat within 30,000 feet below the earth’s surface holds potentially 50,000 times more energy than all global oil and natural gas resources combined. According to the Geothermal Energy Association, up to 6,400 megawatts of new capacity could be created from the geothermal projects under development in the U.S. But getting to that energy is proving to be a challenge.

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A couple weeks ago, we brought you a sneak peak at The Little Book of Shocking Global Facts, a slim but striking volume filled with illustrations of unbelievable facts.

This October, the publisher, Fiell, is releasing a successor: The Little Book of Shocking Eco Facts, by Mark Crundwell and Cameron Dunn, with illustrations by Barnbrook Design. We've got an exclusive preview of what the book will look like; here's a taste:

Up top: In the mountain forests of the Colombian Andes, 1/3 of bird species have gone extinct in the last 80 years.

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