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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.

lean startupThere’s lots of talk these days about the so-called “lean startup.” Most would think that just meant a startup without a lot of outside capital. According to thought leaders Eric Ries and Steve Blank, a lean startup is one developed along a build-test-revise-build-more-test-more strategy.

It’s closely related to what they call agile (or rapid) program development. It’s product development that doesn’t mean spending forever planning a project before getting started. Instead, it’s a cycle of build, test, correct, then build, test and correct.
And that idea, the cycle, the test and revise, the small correction, and the quick pace, is ideal for a next-generation style of business planning. So I’d like to explore here what kind of planning might be related to the lean startup. And I hope, as you read this, that it sounds like a better planning process for a lot of organizations, not just the lean startups.
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Exit interviews are important tools to uncover potential legal liability early and learn if there are morale  (or other) problems in an organization.  Done wrong, though, they can land you in some hot water. As such, it’s best to follow certain guidelines when conducting these talks.

For example, create a script of general questions.  And always have a neutral third party or someone from another department conduct the interview.

As a practical matter, remember that leaving is a highly emotionally charged situation and try to be empathic to the employee. And never forger that while the exit interview may be confidential for the employee, it is not for you and the employee may repeat to anyone else what you said. As such, work with your legal department or outside counsel to ensure that the questions you ask don’t violate the law.

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images-15If Boston, NYC, and San Francisco are the top three U.S. innovation cities why do their economic, education, health care, and energy systems produce the same poor results as cities around the rest of the country?  I read the recent Top Innovation Cities of the Global Economy report from 2thinknow ranking the top 100 global innovation cities with great interest. Of course I quickly scanned the rankings to see which U.S. cities made the list.  While I was disappointed my hometown of Providence, Rhode Island didn’t make the cut I was pleased to see our neighbor Boston was ranked number one.  Two other U.S. cities joined Boston in the top ten, NYC ranked fifth and San Francisco ranked seventh.

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The idea of gaming for more than a high score and bragging rights has been around for some time. The U.S. military used flight simulators and Mission Rehearsal Exercise video games in training programs as early as 2001.

More recently, scientists at the University of Washington began using a game called FoldIt to solve problems related to molecular science and, as the title suggests, folding and design of proteins.

Today, IBM released CityOne (a “serious game” in the company’s own parlance) to help urban planners, civic and business leaders make cities “smarter” or more environmentally and socially sustainable. CityOne is a massively multiplayer online game in the real time strategy category.

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Mark Zuckerberg imageAs a complete The Simpsons dork, I’m just going to ignore “journalistic integrity” or whatever for the moment to blabber on for three paragraphs about how cool this is. In making an appearance on a The Simpsons episode last night, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg joined the pantheon of Internet moguls Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, achieving the honorary PhD in nerd pop culture that is awarded with every appearance on Matt Groening’s opus.

Want context? In the “Loan-A-Lisa” episode, Nelson founds a super successful bike shop and decides to drop out of school. Lisa takes him to a TechCrunch Disrupt-like “Entrepreneur Expo” where she attempts to introduce him to rich people that can demonstrate how having an education is crucial to their success.

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WASHINGTON — The system put in place by the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 -- which gives universities significant control over intellectual property associated with the results of federally funded research at their institutions – has been more effective than the pre-1980 system in making research advances available to the public and spurring innovation, says a new report from the National Research Council.  Nevertheless, the current system needs improvement, said the committee that wrote the report.

"The public investment in research universities has led to a great deal of new knowledge that can benefit society, and the movement of research results to those who can commercialize them creates jobs and strengthens the economy, contributes to the advance of human health, and adds to the nation's security," said Mark S. Wrighton, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and chancellor and professor of chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis.  "The movement of intellectual property from universities to new and mature companies is a healthy process, but one that can be improved. Our committee's report provides some recommendations for those involved in this transfer of knowledge."

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The Problem with MetricsI’ve always been a numbers guy. Growing up, I was always pretty good at math. And I enjoyed it – when I went off I thought I wanted to be a math major (until I figured out that at least at my university, all of the math majors were a bit off in the head (and, also, way smarter than me)). I ended up majoring in economics because the math parts of it were attractive.

So it pains me when I have to say that in business, our attempts at measurement are often ill-founded. Many times we end up using numbers as a defense against ambiguity and uncertainty. Most of the time, instead of trying to measure things, we might be better off just getting more comfortable with these states – because bad numbers are worse than no numbers.

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The 53-year-old fitness enthusiast and his crew have an important job: nurturing inventions that emerge from several thousand scientists and doctors at the nation’s top heart hospital, and guiding them through a years-long process to commercial viability, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Coburn, the son of a thoracic surgeon, grew up eating politics and policy. He cut his commercialization teeth at Battelle, building the research institute’s Cleveland-based commercialization unit to 60 people. He has been executive director of what then was known as CCF (Cleveland Clinic Foundation) Innovations since 2000.

Known simply as Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI), the group of more than 35 people recently started their second decade with a first-of-its-kind venture ranking, a brand-new incubator building and a growing portfolio of spin-out companies.

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ShweebGoogle has finally announced the winners of Project 10^100, a $10 million grant-funding competition that began more than two years ago. Out of 150,000 submissions, four non-profit organizations and one for-profit company were chosen for having the best ideas to solve a global issue. The winners were selected by Google personnel, and the general public via polling.  Here are the five organizations that will receive a portion of the $10 million fund.
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Starting Monday, startups that use CrowdFlower's crowdsourced labor service will have the chance to receive investments of up to $10,000 each, courtesy of startup accelerator and seed fund 500 Startups. The Crowdflower Fund, a $250,000 platform micro-fund, will offer investments in up to 10 companies for a one percent stake. A lucky few startups may also qualify for $50,000 investments and an invitation for an upcoming accelerator program at 500 Startups' office space in Mountain View, California.

The partnership between 500 Startups and CrowdFlower, which offers a labor-on-demand service for companies that need simple jobs completed quickly (making sure that business listings are accurate, for example), makes sense. "[500 Startups founder] Dave McClure was an investor at CrowdFlower when he was at Founder's Fund," says Lukas Biewald, CEO of CrowdFlower. " We had been looking for a way to work together. We want to help more startups use our software in innovative ways, and Dave wants to fund innovative startups."

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If you work in education technology, get ready. The Gates money is coming. Waves of it.

This fall the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and several partners will announce a new project aimed at harnessing technology to help prepare students for college and get them to graduation. The senior program officer leading that effort is Josh Jarrett, a former software entrepreneur with a Harvard M.B.A. who joined Gates after five years with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In an interview, he previewed that program and offered his take on the online-learning scene.

Q: You’ve teamed with Educause, the college IT group, to start a program called Next Gen Learning Challenges. Describe the project.

A: What we envision is a multiyear, multiwave program, where every six to 12 months we issue a new set of challenges. And we’ll issue a set of challenges this fall around shared open-core courseware, around learning analytics, around blended learning, and around new, deeper forms of learning and engagement using interactive technologies. There’s a big gap between R&D and high-impact solutions at scale. We’re trying to participate in some of the effort to help those most promising solutions get across that chasm.

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