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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.

After a modest amount of time observing China’s economy it becomes clear that the government likes to arrange organized competition in industries it considers strategic. Thus the country gets three major airlines—China Eastern, China Southern and Air China—as well as three major mobile phone networks in China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

Now, with the recent announcement of two major new search engine companies, it appears that search is joining transportation, phone networks and Internet service providers as a strategic industry to be managed more directly by the government. And maybe China will soon have three search giants to match up with its telephone and airline triplets.
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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 110-stever-jpgIn large companies, the CEO has professional writers, a PR office, and lots of other skilled people on hand to help relay important messages to the right constituents. As a CEO of a start-up, you don't have this luxury. You are always the company's #1 Communicator.

Most important is to never underestimate this role. Silence isn't golden; it's dangerous. Even if there's no good news to share, say something! At first, employees and investors will fill your silence with their fondest hopes. But once you've missed a single deadline, or something hasn't gone according to plan, everyone will project their worst fears into the void.

Communication is even trickier now with social media. For example, one CEO stopped sending updates to investors, but chronicled his weeklong camping trips and conference excursions on Facebook, all while the company's cash reserves (paying his five-figure-a-month salary) dwindled. As you can imagine, his investors followed his adventures with, how shall I say it, avid interest.

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Most great ideas for enhancing corporate growth and profits aren't discovered in the lab late at night, or in the isolation of the executive suite. They come from the people who daily fight the company's battles, who serve the customers, explore new markets and fend off the competition.

In other words, the employees.

Companies that have successfully made innovation part of their regular continuing strategy did so by harnessing the creative energies and the insights of their employees across functions and ranks. That's easy to say. But how, exactly, did they do it? One powerful answer, we found, is in what we like to call innovation communities.
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LiveAir Networks may look like a mom-and-pop operation as J.W. Breeden, dog Laptop and sister Valerie do the accounting at their Smithville home, but 'we think like the big boys,' he says.SMITHVILLE — In some circles, J.W. Breeden is still known as "that kid."

As in, that kid who was fascinated by technology in preschool, who earned his first $50 hooking up a family friend's computer when he was 7 and who had his first business customer in the seventh grade.

As in, that kid who wrote his company's award-winning business plan while in high school and who juggled college with launching his company, LiveAir Networks, an Internet service provider that competes with corporate giants while also providing broadband in rural areas where the giants don't offer service.

Today, at 24, Breeden estimates that the initial $30,000 investment in LiveAir Networks has grown 25 times . He said he has 300 clients, including a chamber of commerce, a school district, nonprofits, businesses and residents, from Smithville to Giddings to La Grange and points in between.
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Catherine Cook (left) and her brother Geoff Cook walk across from their offices in New Hope. They preferred the Bucks County vibe for their business.  Read more: Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere elseBy all measures, Geoffrey Cook, 31, can count himself as a huge success in the world of online commerce, and his current venture,, is no exception.

A social-networking site conceived by his two younger siblings when they were in high school, the New Hope company, now five years old, brought in more than $2 million in revenue last month and finally turned its first official profit in the spring.

"It's a milestone," Cook said. More important, he said, "we don't feel we have a need to raise more money to run the company the right way. We never wanted to be dependent on the next round of venture capital."

Even so, it was Cook's network of friends and former investors that landed the company a total of $16.9 million in venture capital in two rounds - enough to employ 84 people and outfit headquarters in trendy New Hope.
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sandcastler crowdIMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. -- What do you get when you mix water, feather dusters, trowels and beach sand? The 30th annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.

On a wide, flat beach south of San Diego in early August, dozens of teams built impressive sand sculptures in the likenesses of everything from SpongeBob SquarePants to famous monuments. Some even made a political statement, like Masters "A" Division winner I.B. Posse, whose sculpture titled "Got Oil?" depicted dying marine life in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The five-hour sandcastle-building event is the centerpiece of an annual weekend beach party that also features food, games, music and more than 400,000 spectators. The event, which was inspired by a similar competition in White Rock, British Columbia, began in 1980, and is a grass-roots effort run by volunteers.
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My writings about open source and software patents have earned me a special place in the hearts and minds of those who harbor irrational hatred of software patents. But I am here to tell you that open source is not all bad and, in fact, should be embraced. Open source, however, is hardly something new to the patent community. Perhaps it is better to say that where open source software is heading is nothing new, and it will come as a shock to those who hate patents, but patents will be completely necessary in order for the open source community to continue to advance and live up to its full potential.

Of course, many in the open source community simply do not want patents and would rather they go away altogether. They choose to believe that “innovation” is synonymous with “independent creation,” which is just straight up intellectually dishonest. In order to innovate one must create a new device or a new process. Simply stated, copying the work of others is not innovative; and neither is ignoring what others have done and independently creating something with careless disregard of whether it is new or used.
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The Innovation Cities™ Index 2010 world city scores and cities rankings measuring cities economic and social potential for innovation launch this August. This is a news update.

Top city index and rankings.

The Innovation Cities™ Index by 2thinknow is a 3-factor city score and ranking. The approach is far more comprehensive than Mercer or Economist livability rankings. The Index scores and ranks cities on a more diverse basis.

Since 2007, 2thinknow has published the Innovation Cities™ Index. 2007 and 2008 were beta versions, with the methodology expanded to it’s current size and breadth in 2009. The 2010 index is based on the 2009 methodology, with 14% more cities.

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a crashed airplane with a broken propellerEven when your startup is a one-man show, you will soon find that you are “out of control,” unless you start organizing and writing down how and when key things need to get done. Like it or not, you are now entering the dreaded realm of “formal business processes.” The right question is “What is the minimum that I need?”

The simple answer is that you need to implement one process at a time, starting with those things that are most critical to your business, until you feel a relief that things are starting to happen naturally and consistently, without the attendant stress and continual recovery mode. If you feel that the process itself is a burden, you have likely gone too far.

Here are eight key business tasks that relate to almost every startup, generally prioritized by criticality. Think about the implications of each to your own business, and the potential impact of getting them done incorrectly, or forgetting to do them entirely.

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KARIN WILZIG has a hard time choosing a favorite color from among the 64 that she and her husband can use to illuminate the 14 1/2- foot, 450-gallon aquarium in their TriBeCa town house. The default is fuchsia, which turns the dozen koi a deep pink.

“Not pink,” said Mrs. Wilzig, 40, an artist and a mother of two small children. “Alan, go to the turquoise.”

Her husband, Alan Wilzig, 45, a former banker who collects motorcycles and prides himself on the orange tanning bed in his basement, goes to the James Bond-like control panel in the kitchen, where a touch of a button turns the fish — which are specially bred to be colorless — a vivid blue.

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