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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.

Pundits often assume that what most established businesses need to survive – low taxes and less regulation – are equally important for fast‐growing tech firms. In fact, recent interviews with leaders of fast‐growing firms in a variety of industries and growth stages reveal something quite different. The good news is that what they want, the new governor can deliver readily.

To find out what would make Connecticut a compelling place for fast‐growing technology companies, starting in June 2010 the Connecticut Technology Council interviewed a cross‐section of Connecticut’s fastest growing and strongest enterprises in most technology clusters, from start‐ups to established titans. We also assembled a team of business leaders and graduate students, predominately from Yale and University of Connecticut, to research issues brought up by the CEOs and to review past reports and analyses of states’ competiveness. What we found surprised us.

Today’s most successful entrepreneurs and managers have a common and surprisingly consistent view—the state is not on their innovation and growth wave length. One after another the CEOs told us they like the quality of life here, but that it is a suboptimal location for their business. They expressed concern that the state’s leaders “don’t get it” when it comes to making Connecticut’s institutions flexible and innovation‐oriented. And given the high costs of running a business in Connecticut, the CEOs we spoke with expect our leaders to “get it.”

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If you've just stumbled upon Business Insider recently, then you've missed a ton of excellent stuff.

Our writers compiled a list of the most popular business strategy and entrepreneurship articles we've written in 2010.

See the best of marketing, strategy, social media, hiring, and just plain fun articles for a perfect "in-between-week" reading break.

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One of the most pleasurable days of my life was when my kids picked out items they wanted to sell, put price tags on them, painted signs that they then copied at a copy store and then hung up all over town, and then bargained, negotiated, and made deals left and right until the front of our lawn was empty of all the items they wanted to sell.

Every kid needs entrepreneurial experience. The feeling that you create something powerful enough that people pay money for it. Its exhilarating and inspires growth in so many ways. But its not about reading, or studying, or being smart, or even providing a good role model. The only way your kid will be an entrepreneur is if he or she starts TODAY.

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Since yesterday was 10.10.10, we’ve decided to celebrate this cosmic alignment of numerical symmetry by illuminating the measurements of magnitude. Today, we are taking five different looks at one of the most difficult concepts for the human brain to quantify and understand: The size and scale of the universe.

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This hodgepodge includes a host of intermediaries under the auspices of the Small Business Administration. Gaining prominence are Community Development Financial Institutions (previously known as Community Development Corporations); these entities have more resources to throw around thanks to sponsorship in recent years by the U.S. Treasury. Development programs tend to offer larger loans at lower rates than banks do, though you'll be expected to create jobs (or at least maintain them) in the community.

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As 2010 comes to a close, we asked several venture capital investors to reflect on the past year and give us their outlook for 2011. We’ll be bringing you their responses over the coming days.

Next up in the series is Peter Boni, president and chief executive at Wayne, Pa.-based Safeguard Scientifics, which provides growth capital for life sciences and technology companies. Boni, who assumed this role in 2005 after a career serving as CEO for several publicly-traded and privately-held companies, will be keeping a close eye on the Food and Drug Administration while hoping for a shakeout in the venture industry.

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It’s a long way from an entrepreneur’s “idea” to a working product with a real market and paying customers. A necessary intermediate step for proof of concept, credibility with potential investors, and communication with your team, is a working prototype. Building a prototype should be an early and high priority task for every startup.

A prototype doesn’t need to look great, or be built to scale, but it better accurately translate your vision into something real and tangible. For less tangible products, like software, it should simulate the look and feel of the final product on relevant base hardware. Here are some key objectives to keep in mind when designing your prototype:

  1. Validate the customer need and opportunity. I always hate it when I see startups invest millions of dollars in technology before they validate their ideas in the market, only to find that customers seem to be looking for something slightly different. Test your idea early in a form that is easy and inexpensive to modify.
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Companies have introduced tablet computers before, but the technology never took off until 2010, with Apple's launch of its iPad in April (Review: Apple's iPad). The device runs the operating system that Apple uses for its smart phones but has much more computing power. It's lighter than a laptop and less capable, but consumers love it all the same. The technology research firm ABI Research has predicted that Apple would sell up to 12 million of the devices by year's end.

The key to the success of the device is its easy connectivity. Though Apple offers a Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad, the 3G device is the star. It contains little in the way of new technology, but it has integrated existing technologies to create a compelling mobile-computing experience (Hack: iPad 3G).

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Even in a tough economy, Americans like to eat out making food one of the bright spots in the past few years, with new food and restaurant concepts cropping up fairly often. To help foodservice entrepreneurs get a jump on the future, research and consulting firm Technomic recently announced its 11 top trend predictions for 2011. Here’s a rundown:

1. Adult beverages. Consumers want to celebrate (or drown their sorrows). “Mad Men”-style retro cocktails, gin and bourbon will be hot, as will craft beers and punch (including sangria).  Cocktails incorporating herbal ingredients will proliferate; so will “skinny” (low-calorie) cocktails. To attract a wider range of consumers, more fast-casual chains will start adding alcoholic beverages.

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Customer service is a perennial issue that is critical to all small business owners. Although it is included in every company mission statement, no one wants to focus on it. But some key customer service trends for 2011 make this phase of your business even more critical in the coming year.

Here are 11 customer service trends to watch in 2011:

  1. The time to react to your customer is shrinking. In this 24/7 instant gratification world, the time in which your customer expects you to be able to resolve their problem is getting smaller. Most customers expect to be able to reach you 24/7, and for you to resolve their concern on the very first call (or at least the same day). This is putting increasing stress on companies’ infrastructure and pressuring companies to ensure the profitability of each customer. Look for companies to begin to “fire” customers that don’t meet their profitability metric.
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TechstarsThe TechStars Boston application deadline is 1/31/11.  However, the early application deadline is actually 1/13/11 – anyone that applies by this date is eligible to come to TechStars for a Day in Boston on 1/19/2011.

Katie Rae, the new TechStars Managing Director is doing an awesome job.  I just got a note that we’ve already gotten more applications this year than we had last year.  Even more excitingly, they are covering a wide range of companies – some deep tech, social media, health care informatics, robotics, and ecommerce.

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