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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.

KTECTopeka, Kan. (May 17, 2010) – Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) has announced its equity investments for fiscal year 2010. During this fiscal year, KTEC has invested a total of $350,000 in five companies: AthletixNation, Olathe; EcoFit Lighting, Inc., Lenexa; KCBioMedix, Inc., Shawnee; Matrix Electronic Measuring, Inc., Salina; and Nitride Solutions, Inc., Wichita.

KTEC invests in early-stage technology-based companies that have the potential to compete on a national or global level, generate revenue, create high paying jobs and, ultimately, provide a return on investment for Kansas.

“As we assess these companies, we look at a number of things, including the marketplace, truly innovative technology, leadership and the ability of the company to attract additional capital,” said Kevin Carr, interim CEO. “In my mind, we‟re trying to find what I call „game changers‟ – companies that will help put this region on the map in terms of building our economy, creating high paying jobs and generating spin-off business for other Kansas companies.”

KTEC investments for FY ‟10 include:

  • AthletixNation (AXN) received $100,000 from KTEC. Founded in 2007 by Davyeon Ross, an Olathe-based entrepreneur, AXN is a multi-media sports content provider, delivering college sports video and sports applications to third party web sites and mobile devices. AXN offers a comprehensive technology platform solution that leverages social media tools, video, mobile technology and content management to promote user interaction and engagement.
  • EcoFit Lighting, Inc., Lenexa, received an investment of $50,000. Founded in 2008, EcoFit Lighting designs, manufactures and markets high-output LED streetlights. The patent-pending EcoFit module allows municipalities and utilities to utilize existing fixtures, resulting in lower costs, quicker installation time and elimination of waste from discarded fixtures. EcoFit was founded by Cason Coplin, president and COO.
  • KCBioMedix, Inc., Shawnee, received an investment of $50,000 from KTEC. KCBioMedix is an early-stage medical device company focused on developing and commercializing products that are used by neonatal healthcare providers to assess and treat feeding issues in premature infants. KCBioMedix was founded by D. Michael Litscher and David Stalling, PhD, in 2006.
  • Matrix Electronic Measuring, Inc. recently received $50,000 from KTEC. Jan Srack, president and CEO, founded Matrix in 2003. The Salina-based company developed the Matrix Wand, a patented, Stereoscopic 3-D computer measuring system designed to capture and document images of collision damaged vehicles before, during and after repair. The wireless, handheld tool produces images that can be referenced to an accuracy of two millimeters.
  • Nitride Solutions, Inc., Wichita, received an investment of $100,000. The company, founded in 2007 by Jason Schmitt, developed a proprietary high-volume, low-cost production process for Aluminum Nitride substrates for use in lighting, air and water purification, industrial and medical applications.

KTEC‟s application process for direct capital investment includes submitting a business plan, demonstrating through market research that a considerable market exists and demonstrating the potential to create high paying jobs and generate a return on investment. In addition, each company is required to provide matching funds.

About KTEC: KTEC is a Kansas-funded entity charged with promoting technology-based economic development. KTEC assists Kansas entrepreneurs and technology companies by supporting the development of new technologies, through a statewide network designed to support researchers, entrepreneurs and technology companies through each phase of the technology life cycle. KTEC‟s ultimate goal is to create rapid-growth companies and higher paying jobs. To learn more about KTEC, visit

 WINDY talk about innovation is mind-numbingly abundant. Unusually, however, the grandees taking part in a conference in Paris this week organised by the OECD received some pointed advice. The rich-country think-tank has unveiled a thoughtful new report on how governments can do better at spurring and measuring innovation.

The grandees were also unusually attentive. Many governments are facing not only slow economic growth but also big deficits and heavy debts. At the same time, problems such as global warming and rising prices for natural resources demand their attention. Innovation, the OECD argues, offers a way out. It is already the chief engine of productivity in the rich world, and thus holds out the tantalising prospect of sustaining economic growth on the cheap. It could also provide affordable fixes to the thorniest global problems, argues John Kao, the founder of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, which advocates the use of prizes and contests to encourage breakthroughs on social ills.

Read more ... wants to hit the water for summer vacation. But there are plenty of places where you should think twice before taking a dip -- it might be your last. The water may look fine, but there are dangers underwater and on the surface. After 2010's succession of shark, jellyfish, and crocodile attacks, travelers wanting to cool off this summer would be wise to take extra care in these locations. Read on for the most dangerous waters in the world.

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From the zany to the dangerous to the just plain dumb, here is TIME's list (in no particular order) of some of the world's bright ideas that just didn't work out.

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The Seattle TimesDuring the worst of the Great Recession, we heard much about how it would lead to a Great Reset for America's economy and society. Profligacy was out. Sustainability was in. And this wasn't just coming from greens and doomers.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said we faced "a fundamental economic reset" as the era of cheap credit and growth built on debt was exhausted.

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Complex structures: The red cone at the top center of this image is a printhead used to make two-dimensional lattices of ceramic and metal inks. These lattices can be folded to create complex structures including cubes, spirals, and even an origami crane. Credit: Bok Ahn A new way of printing and folding ceramic and metal lattices into miniature structures could lead to novel lightweight engineering structures. The technique involves making latticed sheets from ceramic ink, then folding and heating these sheets to create intricate shapes. The method could be used to make lightweight parts for aerospace applications, complex scaffolds for tissue engineering, and filters and catalysts for industrial chemical production.

"We can make complex, three-dimensional shapes that can't be made in other ways," says Jennifer Lewis, director of the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Lewis developed the technique with Illinois researcher Bok Ahn and David Dunand, a professor of materials science at Northwestern University. The researchers say it fills a need for a way to fabricate complex structures on the centimeter scale--too small for conventional molding or machining, and too big for lithography or similar techniques.

Lewis has previously created new kinds of inks and printing methods for making two-dimensional structures. Her approach involved squeezing inks containing ceramic or metal particles out of a print head, similar to the way toothpaste would be squeezed from a tube. With these inks, Lewis could make latticed patterns, one layer at a time. The lattices could then be heated to fuse the particles together and remove the ink solvents.

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Seven Successful Open Innovation PracticesLast year I had the opportunity to visit or speak to 24 organizations around the globe, for my research on open innovation practices. These companies included Philips, Kodak, Nokia, Telefonica, Siemens, Xerox and Dupont, but also highly innovative Brazilian firms such as Natura (cosmetics) Embraco (world leader in refrigeration) and Petrobras (one of the largest energy companies in the world) that have been implementing very successful innovation practices. When doing such research one always looks for good practices common between the companies, but also for the practices that make them stand out or be very successful through open innovation.

Here I am sharing seven successful practices that resulted from this research and I would highly recommend implementing:

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Score CardThe Small Business Association of Michigan and Small Business Foundation of Michigan have released their 2009-2010 Entrepreneurship Score Card. This comprehensive report examines Michigan’s competitiveness around many entrepreneurial measures including:

* Entrepreneurial Change: The amount of entrepreneurial growth or decline in an economy over the recent years
* Entrepreneurial Vitality: The level of entrepreneurial activity – pace and robustness of entrepreneurial activity
* Entrepreneurial Climate: The capability of an economy to foster entrepreneurship

The report finds the state of entrepreneurship in Michigan to be mixed. Encouragingly, the state improved on the above measures from previous years; Michigan is outperforming most Great Lakes States; and the concept of economic gardening is being embraced more thought leaders in the state. Disappointingly, though, the state still ranks very low in comparison to other states in measures such as economic competitiveness and “Best States for Business.”

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Corporate biasThere is a great deal of conversation about collaborative environments built on trust and engagement within corporations or across corporate relationships. The problem is that when layoffs come around, people will throw each other under the bus.

It reminds me of the old backward tipping demonstration where the team dynamics leader would have everyone fall backwards into the arms of their co-workers to demonstrate “letting go” and trusting thy colleague.

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As we emerge slowly from the first global recession since World War II, many governments have taken a more proactive approach to boost growth and competitiveness, and many business leaders support these efforts. Given the fragility of the business and economic climate—and strained public coffers—the responsibility to get policy right is acute.

Experience shows that governments have, at best, a mixed record in this regard. An important reason why public intervention in markets has been hit or miss is that action has tended to be based on academic and policy research that has looked through an economy-wide lens to understand competitiveness—in other words, whether one country is "more competitive" than another. This approach has all too often failed to capture the fact that the conditions that promote competitiveness differ significantly from sector to sector—and so, therefore, do the most effective potential regulations and policies.

MGI's analysis offers policy makers a pragmatic guide to help them make the right decisions and trade-offs, drawing on a bottom-up, sector-based approach. The research is based not only on McKinsey’s industry expertise but on nearly two decades of MGI sector-level analysis in more than 20 countries and 28 industrial sectors. In the latest research, MGI studied competitiveness and growth in six industries (retail, software and IT services, tourism, semiconductors, automotive, and steel) across eight or more countries in each case, including both emerging and high-income economies. The lessons that emerge from our case studies are applicable to other sectors, both existing and emerging, and across countries at different income levels.

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UCF Research and CommercializationIn honor of National Small Business Week and as part of her continued efforts to help Central Florida’s small businesses, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) today introduced legislation to support small business incubators so they can foster innovation and reduce costs for early-stage businesses. The Early-Stage Business Investment and Incubation (ESBII) Act (HR 5411) will create a national incubator grant program administered by the Economic Development Agency (EDA) to provide grants for incubators that support the development of early-stage small businesses in targeted, high-growth industries.

A 2008 EDA study found that business incubators are an effective public-private approach that produces new jobs at a low cost to the government. According to the study, up to an estimated 70 jobs are created for every $10,000 in EDA funds invested in business incubation programs.

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Technology innovation is something anyone can undertake these days. Or so we are told.

The notion that low barriers to entry (via low cost or free online office management tools, open-source software and Internet connectivity) enable anyone with a laptop, a cell phone and a good idea to become an instant tech entrepreneur is one we hear often in tech circles.

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