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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.

hot sun in heat wave can cause health problems heat strokeSome might like it hot, but extreme heat can overpower the human body. An expert from the CDC explains how heat kills and why fans are worthless in the face of truly high temperatures

Climate change promises to bring with it longer, hotter summers to many places on the planet. This June turned out to be the fourth-hottest month ever recorded—globally—scientists are reporting. With more heat waves on the horizon, and a big one currently sweeping much of the U.S., the risk of heat-related health problems has also been on the rise.

Heat exhaustion is a relatively common reaction to severe heat and can include symptoms such as dizziness, headache and fainting. It can usually be treated with rest, a cool environment and hydration (including refueling of electrolytes, which are necessary for muscle and other body functions). Heat stroke is more severe and requires medical attention—it is often accompanied by dry skin, a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, confusion and sometimes unconsciousness.

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It's not just about doing a pilot and then collecting data off of smart meters. Utilities looking to manage data coming from smart metering must have a multi-tiered plan in place, Larsh Johnson, director and CTO of eMeter, said during a GTM Webinar on Wednesday moderated by Chet Geschickter, Smart Grid Analyst with GTM Research.

While many people argue that smart meters are an end point and represent just one part of the smart grid, Johnson said that they should be thought of as a strong starting point that allows for greater intelligence below the substation level.

That intelligence, however, does not come without planning. "It's only getting worse, or better, depending on your viewpoint," Johnson said in regards to the amount of information that will be relayed through devices in the home area network, including smart thermostats, solar panels, smart appliances and electric vehicles.

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Early stage venture capital investing in India appears to be the flavour of season. There are funds being set up from $5m to $30m in size. Some are proposed to be set up by angel investors, some by former executives and investment bankers while others by successful entrepreneurs. Some are likely to be supported by government linked institutions, some by international investors and high net worth individuals. I recently had occasion to meet with some fund managers of these proposed funds.

Clearly, they had done their homework: on the state of the Indian private equity and VC market, the various participants had been mapped out, the state of the Indian economy, the performance of existing venture backed companies, the valuations, the exit opportunities, the pluses and minuses of existing funds had all been analysed and the inevitable gaps/spaces/blue oceans (choose your favourite jargon!) had been identified. And they apparently conclusively pointed to early stage investment opportunities in India – the holy grail or the akshaya patra, if you will.

All the presentations however sounded similar if not identical. They all talked about how attractive the opportunity was and how money could be multiplied. They all would source deals by networking and by associating with the same set of organizations and institutions, by having business plan competitions; they all anticipated “adding value” as a differentiating feature – high powered advisory panel, incubation centres, connections with various corporations and the like.

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This year, it’s different.

For the past three summers Dreamit Ventures has incubated early-stage startups at the University City Science Center, giving each startup a small bit of seed capital while providing advice from some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the city.

Startups like SCVNGR, Seatgeek and Notehall all have roots in the incubator.

This year, DreamIt upped the ante by partnering with Brooklyn-based Startl to incubate more companies than ever and DreamIt is starting to receive national attention as one of the best early stage technology incubators in the country.

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steve ballmer microsoftIt's easy to bash Microsoft.

From its CEO, to its massively popular operating system, the company does not exude the cool, hip style of Apple. Nor does it exude the wide-eyed optimism or Google.

For these reasons, and others, Microsoft is regularly bashed by the tech-set who drool over Apple and Google.

It's not just the tech scene. Wall Street is cool to Microsoft. After crushing earnings, Microsoft's stock is underperforming the market.

Well instead of piling on, we're going the other way. Of all the major tech companies out there, Microsoft is one of the most successfully diversified, exciting companies going.

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The term “economic gardening” is coming into play across our state as this new public policy initiative of boosting job creation by focusing on growing existing businesses in the state is discussed by Gubernatorial and other public-office candidates.

It is a concept designed to propel the state toward economic growth and stability. Almost all of Michigan’s new jobs from 1993-2007 came from companies with fewer than 100 employees while companies with 500 or more employees lost a significant number of jobs in the same time frame, notes the Edward Lowe Foundation, the 25-year-old entrepreneurial leadership group in Cassopolis.

Introduced by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) at its recent annual meeting, the economic gardening concept “needs to refocus our strategy from ‘hunting’ outside the state for job providers to ‘cultivating’ our own home grown businesses,” explains Rob Fowler, SBAM president. It targets especially second-stage businesses ($1 million annual revenue) that have been the primary job creators.

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Microsoft's new search engine Bing has been making waves in the search market, adding new features and slowly chipping away at Google's established search dominance. But smaller search engines have an uphill battle when it comes to toppling Google in search.

As's Barry Diller pointed out today, innovation in search often works toward Google's advantage. Regardless of whether Google does the innovating. made headlines this week with some userface changes that reverted the site back to its earlier question and answer format. Furthermore, the site beat analyst expectations, growing 18% to $197.2 million. But IAC head Barry Diller had some candid words about Ask's prospects during the company's second quarter earnings call. According to PaidContent, he said:

“One thing I want to make clear to investors is that Ask itself is not a large segment of the company. I had hoped it would become one, but I was wrong about that. I was wrong about the competitive landscape with Google."

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The rapid growth of wind farms, whose output is hard to schedule reliably or even predict, has the nation’s electricity providers scrambling to develop energy storage to ensure stability and improve profits.

As the wind installations multiply, companies have found themselves dumping energy late at night, adjusting the blades so they do not catch the wind, because there is no demand for the power. And grid operators, accustomed to meeting demand by adjusting supplies, are now struggling to maintain stability as supplies fluctuate.

On the cutting edge of a potential solution is Hawaii, where state officials want 70 percent of energy needs to be met by renewable sources like the wind, sun or biomass by 2030. A major problem is that it is impossible for generators on the islands to export surpluses to neighboring companies or to import power when the wind towers are becalmed.

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In a shift of attitude, they say it's the most important leadership competency for a successful enterprise of the future.

 IN TODAY'S uncertain world, what do CEOs want? How do they defy the complex world we live and work in? With creativity, it seems.

According to a new survey of 1,541 chief executives - including 25 per cent from growth markets such as the Asia-Pacific and Singapore - conducted by IBM's Institute for Business Value, CEOs identify 'creativity' as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future.

That's creativity - not operational effectiveness, influence or even dedication. Coming out of the worst economic downturn in their professional lifetimes, when managerial discipline and rigour ruled the day, this indicates a remarkable shift in attitude. It is consistent with the study's other major finding: Global complexity is the foremost issue confronting these CEOs and their enterprises.

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The initial public offering of India’s largest microlender SKS Microfinance Ltd. starts today and will make some innovators in the sector very rich.

The high-growth, profit-powered model of lending to micro entrepreneurs has already made the company’s founder, Vikram Akula, a multi-millionaire. Earlier this year, he sold part of his stake in the company he launched 12 years ago for more than $10 million.

If the company’s shares sell at the top end of the 850 rupee to 985 rupee price range at which they are being offered, Mr. Akula’s remaining 2.68 million shares will be worth another $50 million. The open offer is scheduled to close on Aug. 2.

To prove they have no plans to take the money and run, Mr. Akula and other SKS executives that hold company shares have pledged not to sell their holdings for the next three years in the 352-page IPO prospectus.

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6 Reasons to Stop Charging by the HourI just received a bill from my lawyer today in which he itemized his time spent on my file last month. He spent four-tenths of an hour on an e-mail to a colleague and one-tenth of an hour leaving me a voice mail.

I have found billing by the hour to be a liability in trying to build a sellable business. Years ago I owned a small design studio that charged by the hour. We had $750,000 in revenue, of which more than 20 percent was flowing to the bottom line, yet the business was worthless because we were simply four people hawking hours.

Billing by the hour reinforces that your firm is just a collection of people and, therefore, that future profits (what acquirers pay for) are contingent on your sticking around. That’s one of the reasons firms that bill by the hour rarely get acquired, and if they do, their owners are bound to sign on for a torturous three- to five-year earn-out, the equivalent of selling their ownership status in return for a glorified job.

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