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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.

C267_cabrillo_idea2With a City Council committee’s blessing July 14, city beaches are one step closer to featuring commercial advertisements on lifeguard stations and seasonal lifeguard stands.

If approved by the full council, the proposed commercialization of the beaches could bring millions of dollars back to the city’s lifeguard program, which has been hit hard by budget cuts.

“It was an important step and I give the lifeguards a lot of credit,” said District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, part of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee that unanimously approved the project. Faulconer said the beach advertising proposal would likely be brought to full council in the fall, with public outreach planned between now and then. In this proposed pilot program, each of the city’s eight main lifeguard stations alone — including the one in Ocean Beach — could potentially generate between $200,000 and $500,000 per year — as much as $4 million annually.

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stormcloud_july10.jpgThe benefits of scalability and flexibility touted by cloud computing are rapidly pushing its adoption forward. And while there are still hesitations in some sectors about the emerging technologies - questions about security, control, and interoperability - the majority of tech experts see moving to the cloud as inevitable.

Nevertheless, it's still fairly common to hear the argument that the public cloud isn't quite ready or quite right for the enterprise. But a recent Forrester report contends that enterprise might not be ready for the private cloud either. Pointing to a survey that found only about 5% of IT shops have the experience internally to make the move to the cloud, the report, authored by James Staten with Christian Kane, Robert Whiteley, contends that many companies simply aren't ready.

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Confidence among venture capitalists in Silicon Valley weakened in the second quarter, according to a new industry report, as concerns over financing, the economy and new regulations added to an already tough working environment.

But while confidence dipped, investments increased as several venture capitalists seemed excited about a new crop of quality start-ups hitting the Valley.

Venture capital has been one of the hardest-hit parts of the economy during the recession. The lack of financing choked off money to the industry, while the moribund capital markets made it very difficult to exit past investments through initial public offerings or mergers and acquisitions.

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Are there too many angel investors funding too many startups? That was the topic of some debate today at AngelConf, which was held at the Mountain View, Calif. campus of incubator Y Combinator.

The opening speaker was well-known and prolific angel Ron Conway (pictured), who argued that if anything, there should be more angel investing, not less. He said he hopes that any entrepreneur that has “the guts” to start a company gets funded.

“The more angels we have in Silicon Valley, the better,” he said, later adding, “We are funding innovation. We are funding the next Facebook, Google, and Twitter.”

Critics have described this high-quantity approach to angel investing as “spray and pray,” but Conway said angel investing is a hit-driven business. If you invest in enough companies, then you’ll eventually put money in a home run that pays off so well that it funds all your future investments.

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toronto_july10.jpgWhile not the political capital of Canada, Toronto is certainly the cultural and financial capital of the country. With over 5 million residents, Toronto is the largest city in Canada, sitting in a densely populated part of Southern Ontario. With over 200 ethnic groups speaking over 130 languages, Toronto's cosmopolitan population makes it one of the world's most diverse cities. Toronto also boasts a clean environment, low crime rates, a high standard of living, and incredibly nice folks who live there, all helping make it one of the world's most livable cities and according to a recent Huffington Post article, "the capital of cool."

It's also by all accounts a thriving startup hub, with both strong investor presence - the National Angel Capital Organization and Extreme Venture Partners are headquartered there, for example - and with a lot of entrepreneurial talent and activities.

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In January, we broke the news that prolific Silicon Valley angel investor Dave McClure was to set up its own venture capital fund.

Yesterday, the man filed for the fund with the SEC, providing us with more details (hat tip to FormDs.com). The name will be 500 Startups – McClure has long called himself the master of 500 hats – and the initial fund will amount to max. $30 million according to the filing.

McClure has turned to 99 Designs to come up with a logo for the fund (my favorite so far).

Here’s part of the brief for the logo design:

500 Startups is a new, edgy, risk taking seed fund which invests in early stage consumer internet companies.

Incubator/seed investment funds are popping up left and right and we’re looking to differentiate ourself through edgier design. Our founder likes to swear. In public. A lot. Think Ari Gold, but for tech companies and without a suit.

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2.0 Hippies don’t think like the “crowd” rather they think about the “crowd”.  The “crowd” represents the masses being lead down the wrong path only to be captured and used for “the media’s and the man’s” benefit. The media represents “the man” which reflects the philosophy of the past.

Many who stay stuck in the old business philosophy think they understand the power of social technology and try to apply it to old corporate practices in marketing, PR, advertising, customer and employee relations etc. only to learn that their strategies fail because they are driven by the wrong philosophy.

Hippies 2.0 challenge the assumptions and beliefs of organizational and personal thinking stuck in 1.0 philosophies. You can spot thinkers of Hippie 2.0 by their media which reflects profound changes in knowledge, values and reason about the human interaction with markets of conversations. Hippies 2.0 are early adopter ideologies which show the counter cultural values created by the intersection of technology with the human network.

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As more and more organizations use all things social to attract audiences the issues of “spread” becomes a focal point for reaching the right audience.

In statistics, statistical dispersion is variability or spread in a variable of probable distribution. Probable distribution is important to distribution of relevant content in context with your audience.

Dispersion is contrasted with location or central tendency, and together they are the most used properties of distributions. If your content is not being dispersed to locations where your audience is then you are wasting efforts to attract the wrong audience.

Social technology follows the concept of “spread” in that the technology “spreads” messaging to “network clusters” of people using certain networks to reach “clusters” of people who may have an affinity to other people or relevant content. The affinity is based on numerous factors calculated by the different “networks” using individual and business profile data to determine “cluster affinity”. You can see this in action with numerous “network applications” indicating whom or what you may “like” or want to “connect” to.
Most people think of gambling when they hear the word spread. Spread is used in gambling to determine the odds. Social media is much like gambling because if you understand the “odds” of the game you can improve your “game playing” strategy and the related tactics. The social game is about connecting with the right audience and to win you have to focus on the issues in the 5 X 6 Social Media Matrix model in order to understand relevant issues that effect the “spread” of your audience.
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Corporate venture investing has made a minor comeback in recent months, with three corporations establishing venture capital initiatives.

General Motors Corp., which has been an active investor in high-tech companies over the past few years, is committing $100 million to a new venture arm that will give the automaker a more structured way to tap into emerging technologies. “The idea is to identify early-stage technologies that we could potentially incorporate into GM vehicles,” said Jon Lauckner, who is heading General Motors LLC. “Also, there’s a possibility of a financial upside to boot.”

Kaplan Inc. launched its own venture arm to look at start-ups targeting students. Kaplan VC LLC is designed to identify and develop innovative learning strategies, technologies and products with the potential to transform education worldwide. The new group will be led by Jason Palmer, who will serve as senior vice president of Kaplan Ventures.

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NASULGC - A Public University Association
The 2010 CICEP Summer Meeting, held in conjunction with the A۰P۰L۰U Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO), took place in Austin, TX on June 21-23.  Many thanks to our hosts, Keith McDowell and Arjun Sanga from the University of Texas System.  The Summer Meeting agenda was packed with productive sessions that focused on the many elements of economic engagement, including: the roles and expectations of universities and external stakeholders; the potential of technology as a tool in economic and community engagement; and the crucial elements of successful communications and engagement strategies.  
 
We were also privileged to hear the federal perspective on the role of universities in regional economic growth from Barry Johnson of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the “view from the top” from several university leaders including, CICEP Chairman Jack Wilson, President, University of Massachusetts; Chair-elect James B. Milliken, President , University of Nebraska; Francisco Cigarroa, Chancellor, University of Texas System; and Irv Downing, Vice President for Economic Development and Community Services, The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.
 
The meeting agenda and individual presentations are available at the APLU/CICEP website:

Eat More InnovationHave you seen the new HBO made-for-TV movie called “Temple Grandin?”

It’s a powerful story about a woman, Temple Grandin, who overcame autism to become one of the most influential figures in today’s livestock and animal husbandry industry. Not only is Temple’s story a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome tremendous obstacles, it teaches many principles that all business leaders would do well to embrace.

When diagnosed at a very early age, doctors said Grandin would never speak. When they recommended life-long institutionalization, Grandin’s mother refused to accept that possibility, and continually pushed her daughter to develop her abilities and learn to work around her autistic limitations.

With the support of her mother and several key mentors along the way, Grandin went on to graduate from college and earn a Ph.D. in animal science. More important, she revolutionized the livestock industry by designing innovative systems that improve herd management and facilitate more humane treatment of the animals we depend on for food. (Lesson #1: Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do!)

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A chemical-infused scaffold generates new tissue by attracting stem cells.

Today's titanium replacement joints work very well for 10 to 15 years, but replacing them after they've worn out is a challenge for both patient and surgeon. A team of researchers from Columbia University proposes a way around that problem: by implanting a scaffold that encourages the patient's own stem cells to regrow the joint.

In research published this week in The Lancet, the researchers demonstrate that the technology--a joint-shaped scaffold infused with a growth factor protein--works in rabbits. About a month after the implant, the animals began using their injured forelimbs again, and at two months the animals moved almost as well as similarly aged healthy rabbits. The study is the first to show that an entire joint can be repaired while being used.

"They used the potential of the body as a bioreactor, instead of doing everything in the petri dish," says Patrick H. Warnke, a professor of surgery at Bond University. Warnke wrote a commentary on the Columbia study for The Lancet. While the connection between bone and the titanium in existing implants wears out over time, the hope for this alternative approach is that the new bone formed by the stem cells will create a more natural and durable connection, and that the scaffold itself would disintegrate over time.

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