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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.

As an entrepreneurship educator at a major university, I agree with much of Robert Kiyosaki's column, "We need two school systems" (The Forum, Feb. 9).

However, I must take issue with the notion that such an approach would have a meaningful impact on our country's ability to "create entrepreneurs."

Casting as wide a net of entrepreneurship education as possible would be far more effective in encouraging a cadre of new entrepreneurs than the creation of a highly selective, exam-based academy.

We need to encourage as large a pool of nascent entrepreneurs as possible. The type of training and exposure to successful entrepreneurs Kiyosaki proposes is already available in virtually all of the better university entrepreneurship programs, and entrepreneurship education is already being extended to both secondary and primary schools.

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Box of Crayons founder, Michael Bungay Stanier, has a pretty awesome job…

He goes into companies and teaches people how to do great work. Not good work, but great, butterfly in the stomach, soaring with delight, serving the world in a powerful way work. In this interview, we spend time exploring how to make this happen in your career and life.

And, we get into some of the exercises from Michael’s new book, Do More Great Work

In our interview, Michael talks about a video he created, called The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun. It’s a great example of how to seed an idea and create something powerful, useful and delightful with the potential to go viral. To date, it’s been viewed something like 3 million times. Click on the image to play it…

8 irresistible rules of run

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startup women diversity entrepreneurA serious geek I know asked me how many people with gray hair were at Internet conference I had just attended. I answered that there were quite a few. He shook his head and said that when the suits take over, it's the beginning of the end of innovation.

There are two things happening here. First, the suits are taking over and, second, the pioneers are going gray. Together they make up the startup establishment. But things have changed since the early days, and this establishment hasn't kept up with the times. The current startup system essentially excludes the untapped pool of innovators who aren't developers - for example, women who want to launch Internet startups.

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Ask the attorney: Should I hire a pro negotiator now that I have a buyout offer?Question:  We just got an offer to buy our company for a sweet pile of cash, but we don’t know what the next step is.  My father said we should hire an investment banker and let him handle the negotiations.  Do you agree?

Answer:  Congratulations!  Without knowing more about the deal and the proposed purchase price, it’s hard to say.  I practiced law for a number of years in New York City, and it was pretty rare not to have an investment banker involved in an M&A transaction.  Here in California, it’s a little different since most of the deals tend to be relatively small.

A strong investment banker can add a lot of value — not only in connection with negotiating the material terms of the transaction, but also valuing the company and making sure that you’re not selling too low. A strong banker will also create a competitive environment (or the perception of one) and play bidders off of each other to make sure you get the best possible deal terms.

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China’s Gray Revolution: Why China May Invent the New Business of AgingDiscussions of China tend to focus on size – a nation of over 1.3 billion people certainly deserves attention from business and investors worldwide. But, ‘total’ numbers reveal little about underlying social and market dynamics nor the opportunities they may present.

China is undergoing a ‘gray’ revolution. While discussions of aging and innovation almost exclusively focus on the industrialized economies of Europe, North America, Japan and the tiger economies of Asia, China may be the venue to watch, and for innovators to engage in what’s new in aging. A convergence of forces -- demographic transition, family dynamics, and institutional readiness provide a promising market for innovations in health delivery, eldercare and aging services.

Disruptive Demographics in the Middle Kingdom

Gray ChinaAsia Studies Monitor data indicate that life expectancy in China was a young 41 years old compared to 65 and older in Europe and North America in 1950. China is closing the longevity gap. Today, life expectancy in China has jumped to nearly 79 years compared to 82+ years in western industrialized economies.

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Gov Monitor logoAfter decades of being celebrated as one of the hallmarks and virtues of American-style capitalism, “financial innovation” has come onto hard times.

Soon after the financial crisis began in 2007 and 2008, certain instruments of recent high finance – the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and the credit default swap (CDS), as leading examples – were blamed by the media, the public, many policymakers, and even by some top economists for nearly bringing the U.S. and global financial systems and their economies to their knees.

It didn’t take long for financial innovation more broadly to be condemned.

New York Times columnist and Princeton professor Paul Krugman, for example, has asserted that it was “hard to think of any major recent financial innovations that actually aided society, as opposed to being new, improved ways to blow bubbles, evade regulations and implement de facto Ponzi schemes.”

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The Office of Science and Technology of Boston (MS&T), directed by Antoine Mynard, is closely interested in the issues of innovation, technology transfer and entrepreneurship. It is well-known that in the United States, the financing of innovation is largely private, whereas in France the mechanisms of intervention and accompaniment of innovation belong to both the public and private spheres.

In the United States, investment banks play a very important role, parallel to that of venture capital enterprises and angel investors. The financial crisis of 2008 so impacted the economy of innovation because all aspects of American finance were affected in one way or another.

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Susan Ho’s company, Tea Aura 
Inc., churns out about 43,000 tea-infused cookies a week.While the United States is usually the country hailed for its can-do business spirit, Canada is proving to be the home of the fearless entrepreneur.

Recession-weary Canadians have gone into business for themselves in near-record numbers in the past couple of years, and the trend shows no signs of slowing as hiring by larger corporations remains slow. The trend to self-employment goes against activities south of the border, where small-business growth has been weak.

A flip through any Yellow Pages reveals start-up businesses of endless variety, and while there are countless failures to go with every success, they are becoming an increasingly strong economic force.

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Welcome to the 6th installment of Savvy Sunday Series where I inspire you to become an Evolutionary Entrepreneur.

8 Steps To Becoming a Savvy Social Media EntrepreneurSocial Media is all the buzz these days and for good reason. It’s possibly the best source of `free’ marketing and promotion you can get for your business. Yet I speak to so many of you every week, who say how totally confusing and overwhelming it can be. I hear you.

Luckily it doesn’t have to be. Over the next few weeks I’m going to offer you my tips, tricks and guidance on building an integrated social media campaign to make sure your business shines.

Over the last year and a half I’ve been finely honing my Social Media skills, and every day I’m learning more and putting it into action and seeing what works well and what doesn’t.

The trick is it takes time and effort and a desire to engage and connect. If you’re prepared to do this then you will really see great results for your business.

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Dean Kamen demonstrating his IBOT wheelchair to President Clinton.National Engineers Week (February 14 to 20) is celebrated this week. You may not be aware but engineers are playing a much larger role in your life than you think. Every single product that you consume or use was conceived in the mind of an engineer, designed by an engineer, and made by engineers. From the toothbrush you use to the toilets you flush, everything we use has been created by engineers. There are only about 1 million engineers in this country. This is a tiny fraction of the 120 million+ workforce. And yet 80% of the income growth in this country is directly related to engineering inventions and innovations.

Since the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America has captured the imagination of the world. The 20th century can rightfully be called as the century of American influence. Unlike England or France, America did not have colonies to loot. Instead America had its own internal engine of growth. Two centuries of unprecedented economic growth and wealth creation propelled America into an enviable position. America became a beacon of hope, freedom and prosperity.

Today most Americans seem to be unaware of the people who created this all powerful, unstoppable Engine – the Engine of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. One of its early pioneers was Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers. He was not merely a politician, but also a problem solver and inventor. He created the first bifocals, invented the lightening rod, built a safer stove for heating, invented the first odometer and studied how to design better ships. Ben Franklin can be truly called as the Father of American Engineering. A number of great engineering entrepreneurs followed the trail blazed by Ben Franklin.

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Eric Jorgenson has notebooks with several million dollars scribbled on the pages.

The business and economics junior carries pen and pad wherever he goes, and whenever he thinks of the next best business venture he pulls out the notebook.

Jorgenson, who will co-direct The Hatch, an entrepreneurial incubator for students to be located at 325 E. Grand River Ave., is just one of many minds East Lansing and MSU are attempting to tap into as the city pushes entrepreneurship.

“There’s a common consensus of being sick of being considered a rust belt automotive, has-been sort of town, and that’s not what we are,” said Jorgenson, who started a bamboo clothing company called GoBoo Clothing.

“There’s a lot of young influence driving it into the right places and trying to bring Michigan up.”

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Sometimes business leaders need a rally cry to get themselves in gear.  For his call to arms, George Coultier choose to twist the old football axiom (“winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”) for his book, Profits Aren’t Everything,They Are The Only Thing.

Coultier, founder of American Management Services, used his 30-year career of turning around financially troubled businesses to assemble “rules” for hot to prevent your business from falling into financial and operational collapse. He wrote the book as an “attitude adjustment” for business owners. He espouses “the need to run over anyone or anything that gets in the way of your company’s paramount need for profits.” I bought a copy to understand this adjustment better.

Great Discipline Leads to Results

Profits Aren't EverythingProfits Aren't EverythingProfits sets a clear tone that unrelenting discipline and execution is a key to profits. Coultier’s perspective shines when applied to addressing tough questions and to operations judged by measurement. For example, Coultier is a pay-for-performance advocate, emphasizing it on sales teams specifically, but also for all employees to achieve profitability. He denounces sweat equity, insists on a plan on which the business lives or die, and contends owners must get closer to the sales process. He also suggests no great leader abdicates on financials:

“No one should know your financials better than you. Your balance sheet is something that is in your control.”
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