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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.

EurActiv LogoThe population of the European Union surpassed the 500 million mark at the beginning of this year, with migration accounting for the majority of growth in 2009, according to estimates released yesterday (27 July).

European statistics agency Eurostat said the EU gained 1.4 million residents in 2009, increasing the population of the 27-country bloc from 499.7 million to 501.1 million.

63% of the increase - representing nearly 900,000 people - was due to net migration, which accounts for arrivals and departures, while the rest was from births.

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“The Best Magazine Articles Ever” – Sure the list is subjective. It’s all in English, and heavily slanted toward male writers. But you can’t quibble with this. This curated collection features pieces by some of the finest American writers of the past generation. We’ve highlighted 10 notables ones from a much longer list available here.

1 ) John Updike, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.” The New Yorker, October 22, 1960.

2) Norman Mailer, “Superman Comes to the Supermarket.” Esquire, November 1960.

3) Tom Wolfe, ”The Last American Hero is Junior Johnson. Yes!” Esquire, March 1965.

4) Hunter Thompson, ”The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.” Scanlan’s Monthly, June 1970.

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EntrepreneurshipChanging Demographics In Entrepreneurship

Over the last 10 years, entrepreneurship has become a growing trend with growing importance within the global marketplace. In fact, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), about 330 million people, or 14% of the adults in the 35 countries surveyed, are involved in forming new businesses.

Whether it is the desire to be your own boss, pursue your own ideas, or the hope of financial rewards, people are changing their outlook on how to do business. Within the scope of entrepreneurship there are four demographics that are increasing faster than ever.

Women Entrepreneurs

In 2002, the most recent year the U.S. Census Bureau collected business ownership data, there were 6.5 million women-owned businesses. That number is up 20% from 1997. Traditionally, women-owned businesses were most prevalent in the health care and professional services industries. But surprisingly, the fastest growing areas of women-owned businesses are construction (up 30%), agricultural services (up 24%) and transportation (up 20%).

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Phytoplankton, which are responsible for half of the world's primary production and are the basis of all marine ecosystems, have been declining for more than 100 years, perhaps the result of rising sea temperatures, according to a study published in this week's Nature -- a cause for concern about the health of the Earth's oceans.

"It is troubling," said marine scientist David Siegel of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the research. With data dating back to the late 1800s, "this paper finds a long-term trend that's huge," he said. "The phytoplankton community has undoubtedly been changing."

Phytoplankton productivity lies at the base of the marine food web, supporting all ocean life and contributing to global geochemical processes, including the carbon cycle. Through photosynthetic activities, phytoplankton reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. Satellite data from the last few decades has suggested that phytoplankton might be on the decline.

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When an entrepreneur decides to enter the workforce, they need to ask themselves many questions in order to determine if they are going to be a solid fit in joining a company. Here are some questions all entrepreneurs need to ask themselves. If they answer yes to over 50% of the questions, they could be ready to start working for someone else.

All entrepreneurs

Can you work for a manager?
In other words, are you ready to be managed? Are you ready for someone else to give you work instructions and for you to follow them? Previously as an entrepreneur, you were the one that had people waiting for your instructions – now it’s the other way around.

Are you ready to have less creative freedom?
While at your new job, your role/vision will be important and you will be involved in the creative process – but you will lose the ability to “veto” other creative decisions and realize that the final word belongs to someone else.

Are you ready to be involved in one specific area of business?
As an entrepreneur, you dabbled in all roles – you may have helped with 401k administration, you may have helped hire an accountant – all while also focusing your time on delivering strategy and helping the business succeed. As an employee, you’ll be focused on what you were hired to do – if you are running marketing, the company won’t be needing your advice on who the next accountant will be.

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X Prize,green energy,biofuelThe original field of 136 experimental vehicles vying for a $10 million prize in Progressive Insurance's Automotive X PRIZE competition has been whittled down to just nine finalists, competition organizers said Tuesday. Each of these finalists, having passed on-track testing at Michigan International Speedway, now move onto the validation phase, where the vehicles must prove they can exceed 100 MPGe, which stands for "miles per gallon energy equivalent."

The field of nine includes:
Mainstream Class (Two vehicles, one team)
•    Edison2, Very Light Car #97 (Charlottesville, VA), Internal Combustion Engine
•    Edison2, Very Light Car #98 (Charlottesville, VA), Internal Combustion Engine

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Microsoft Research demonstrated a new street-level image viewing option that knocks the socks off of Google Maps Street View this week at the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles. Called Street Slide, the technology allows users to zoom out from the fish-eye pannable photos you see on standard street view options and instead see a series of flat panoramic photos stitched together like a timeline.

It's a little hard to describe, but check out the video below. In addition to being less disorienting than zooming around inside Street View, the open space opened up for annotation in Street Slide is very nice.

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Most people associate Wisconsin with cheese and beer, but you should think about adding startups to that list. Led by a tidal wave of mostly young entrepreneurs, Madison, Wisconsin is staking a claim as the startup capital of the Midwest. Madison was recently ranked as the 7th most innovative city in the country by Forbes magazine – just above perennial powerhouse Boston, MA.

Several key organizations are driving the growing startup community. Capital Entrepreneurs is a group of over 56 companies that meet on a regular basis to help founders network and develop connections. MERLIN Mentors provides free mentoring services to new startups. Applicants are assigned a team of experienced entrepreneurs who help founders navigate many of the challenges facing a new company. These groups, along with the University of Wisconsin, are fostering a great culture for new startups.

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Five Common Innovation and Change MistakesWalk into a Barnes and Noble you can find dozens of books on innovation. There are books ranging from teaching the ‘how to” to teaching creative thinking. There are not many good ones simply because the subject is a moving target with rules being broken and created every day. Meanwhile existing tools are becoming obsolete, and best practices are often worst practices. Much that is held as common wisdom regarding how purposeful or successful innovation happened is wrong. This is not to say that all organizations are not innovative; but obviously many are not, thanks to our management systems and education.

Innovation does not require a revolution. What it does require is thoughtful construction of a good sense making process, a robust pipeline management approach and a strategic intent from top leadership. Innovation is not just about creativity and having creative punks doing money shows or a facilitator running some offsites. Coming up with good-to-great ideas is the easiest part (call me and I can give you half a dozen for free); the hard stuff is activation and mobilization.

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There’s a common myth that older workers are technophobic and won’t use new technology as well as younger workers. This is a myth, and a dangerous one. Every member of the team needs to use the tools at their disposal effectively, and if you don’t give older workers the benefit of the doubt, you’re putting them, and your whole team, at a disadvantage.

What is true is that Baby Boomers can be reluctant to adopt new gadgets and frequently struggle to learn them. The trick, then, is to help your more experienced workers understand how the new software or equipment ties in to the work that has to get done, and then give them the chance to actually learn it. Bear in mind that there are exceptions to every generalization, and some folks in every age group are way out ahead of the pack.

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The parties already exist for make-up, sex toys and Tupperware. But now, there is a buying party for men: Man Cave Worldwide “meatings.”

The parties already exist for make-up, sex toys and Tupperware. But now, there is a buying party for men: Man Cave Worldwide "meatings."

The company, started by a 2010 University of Minnesota graduate, offers men what women have had for years. With a Man Cave adviser, men can host their friends for a barbecue, drink free beer, learn how to grill and sell products.

"Guys have been needing this for a long time," said Mike Krueger, who hosted a "meating" Thursday at his home in Eden Prairie.

The market demand is evident in the figures. Man Cave founder and University entrepreneurship graduate Nick Beste expects the company to net $2 million in revenue this year.

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Reaching the Last Technology Holdouts at the Front of the Classroom 1Every semester a lot of professors' lectures are essentially reruns because many instructors are too busy to upgrade their classroom methods.

That frustrates Chris Dede, a professor of learning technologies at Harvard University, who argues that clinging to outdated teaching practices amounts to educational malpractice.

"If you were going to see a doctor and the doctor said, 'I've been really busy since I got out of medical school, and so I'm going to treat you with the techniques I learned back then,' you'd be rightly incensed," he told me recently. "Yet there are a lot of faculty who say with a straight face, 'I don't need to change my teaching,' as if nothing has been learned about teaching since they had been prepared to do it—if they've ever been prepared to."

And poor teaching can have serious consequences, he says, when students fall behind or drop out because of sleep-inducing lectures. Colleges have tried several approaches over the years to spur teaching innovation. But among instructors across the nation, holdouts clearly remain.

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