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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.

ITIF President Rob Atkinson testified before the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, offering suggestions on how the government can support innovation and strengthen U.S. competitiveness. In his testimony Atkinson laid out ITIF’s analysis showing how the U.S. is falling behind other nations and made the case for eight steps that include the establishment of a national innovation foundation, improvements in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, and smarter commercialization of research.

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SUMMARY: In September 2009, President Obama released his national innovation strategy, which is designed to promote sustainable growth and the creation of quality jobs. Two key parts of this strategy are to increase support for both the fundamental research at our nation's universities and the effective commercialization of promising technologies.

The Federal government supports university-based research for a variety of reasons. Expanding the frontiers of human knowledge is a worthy objective in its own right. Basic research that is not motivated by any particular application can have a transformative impact. As President Obama noted in his National Academy speech, ``It was basic research in the photoelectric field that would one day lead to solar panels. It was basic research in physics that would eventually produce the CAT scan. The calculations of today's GPS satellites are based on the equations that Einstein put to paper more than a century ago.''

Yet it is often transferring viable research discoveries to the marketplace that can pose the greatest challenge to innovators and entrepreneurs. As a result, the Administration is interested in working with all stakeholders (including universities, companies, Federal research labs, entrepreneurs, investors, and non-profits) to identify ways in which we can increase the economic impact of Federal investment in university R&D and the innovations being fostered in Federal and private proof of concept centers (POCCs). This RFI is designed to collect input from the public on ideas for promoting the commercialization of Federally funded research. The first section of the RFI seeks public comments on how best to encourage commercialization of university research. The second section of the RFI seeks public comments on whether POCCs can be a means of stimulating the commercialization of early-stage technologies by bridging the ``valley of death.''

Background: Federally-funded research has contributed to economic growth, job creation and improvements in our quality of life. In the information and communications sector, for example, university-based research has played a key role in the development of technologies such as the Internet, electronic design automation, mass storage, speech recognition, parallel computing, computer graphics, and workstations. In the life sciences, university research has led to new tools to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases.

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Geoff and Michelle Greenfield of Third Sun Solar and Wind Power in Athens.Geoff Greenfield is an example of the type of entrepreneur who is becoming the modern face of the economy in Appalachian Ohio.

As founder and president of Third Sun Solar and Wind Power in Athens, Greenfield is part of a thriving alternative energy industry that is making its home in Athens County.

Third Sun was ranked 21st among Ohio's fastest growing companies by Inc. magazine in 2009 due to its three-year growth rate of 390 percent. It was 32nd nationwide among all energy companies.

Greenfield started the company in 1997 because of his commitment to alternative energy sources.  But in the last few years, interest in green energy has spiked new opportunities that have helped him grow his business substantially.

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Carl Johan Sundberg, Associate Professor at the Karolinska, who is directing the research with Science|BusinessPersonalised healthcare started off as a great idea some years ago. The promise: With the benefit of modern biology and genetic and diagnostic tools, tailor a medical treatment to targeted groups of patients. Improve effectiveness and outcomes. Reduce side-effects and errors. It made sense then – and it still does now. Certainly, the antique model of one-treatment-fits-all is more than ready for an upgrade.

The reality has been different than the promise. Roll-out has been slower, investment difficult. Regulatory clearance has been fragmented. While there has been progress and hints of the benefits to come, many barriers still stand in the way of deployment.

Why, and what are the barriers? This is the topic of a European research project and series of conferences being organised during 2010 by Science|Business, in collaboration with leading medical university Karolinska Institutet of Stockholm, and a consortium of industrial partners including Novartis, Pfizer, Microsoft and Genzyme. The research project, to be released this spring, analyses expert attitudes towards the technology in four European Union countries. The first of the conferences to discuss the results was held in Brussels on February 4.

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The biggest rumble down south was between a pair of location-based gaming services: Austin-based Gowalla and New York-based Foursquare. Both services are similar — users "check in" to real-world locations through their smartphones and are rewarded with badges and discounts for frequenting hotspots. Foursquare is the established favorite and has a larger user base, but Gowalla led a strong insurgency, with a slickly designed iPhone application and a heavy presence at the festival. Who won? We'll call this one a draw, as many festival-goers used both services simultaneously to locate their friends and track down parties.

Gowalla and Foursquare both face the same challenge ahead — breaking outside of the tech-heavy communities on the coasts to become a tool in everyday life. Its not an easy road. The two services must deal with privacy concerns (although they track your location only when you give them permission) while fighting to build partnerships with merchants and brands to help encourage skeptical users to give them a try. But even if these services remain niche distractions, location isn't going away anytime soon. The Web's social giants also want you to start sharing your whereabouts: Twitter has already added the ability to add location to tweets, and Facebook reportedly plans to roll out a similar feature in their status updates before the summer.

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young steve jobsFinding a name for a company is sort of like finding a name for a band: all the good ones seem to be taken already.

Furthermore, while it might not be what actually matters about what you do, all creators have a sense that it matters. Plus there's the matter of finding (or buying) the domain name(s).

As you'll see, even some of the biggest tech giants got their names kind of at random, so even if you pick out something that might sound stupid, it might not kill you.

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Semiconductor nanocrystals, which emit different colors based on the size of the particles, as shown in the rainbow above, are useful for researching technologies ranging from fluorescent labels to novel light sources.On January 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton addressed a standing-room only crowd at Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium. He articulated the pressing need for the United States to strengthen its investment in science and technology. A “top priority” was a major increase in the federal funding for nanotechnology, which involves studying materials at the level of molecules and atoms. Clinton extolled the benefits of the proposed National Nanotechnology Initiative, or NNI, with a description straddling science fact and fiction:

Just imagine, materials with 10 times the strength of steel and only a fraction of the weight; shrinking all the information at the Library of Congress into a device the size of a sugar cube; detecting cancerous tumors that are only a few cells in size. Some of these research goals will take 20 or more years to achieve. But that is why…there is such a critical role for the federal government.

As the NNI enters its second decade, a broad appraisal of the federal investment in nanotechnology is called for. Rather than frame this is as a matter of success and failure, let’s consider the new issues and concerns that have arisen since 2000. The effects of large-scale R&D investment can unfold in surprising ways and the NNI is no different.

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If you are interested in innovation and have $1,500 to spare, the place to be the next few days will be at a conference at the Haas School of Business.

The Economist magazine is hosting the gathering, titled “Innovation: Fresh Thinking for the Ideas Economy.”  With its impressive collection of leading thinkers, authors, journalists, academics, designers and businessmen, the conference aims to “expand or overturn established thinking about what innovation is, where it comes from, and how to make it work.”

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National Science FoundationU.S. small business is closely associated with the development of new technologies in many of the science-based industries likely to be important to future economic growth. Without the organizational barriers that often impede risk taking at larger companies, small businesses produce many of the radical innovations that lead to groundbreaking new products and even new industries. From air conditioning to optical scanners, from solid fuel rocket engines to personal computers, small-business innovations have helped to transform American society while making important contributions to national economic growth (National Science Board 2008; Schramm 2006; Baumol 2002).

Until better data on a broader set of innovation-related indicators become available, an examination of research and development (R&D) performance by small firms can help to provide some indication of the role that they play in the nation's scientific enterprise (National Research Council 2005). Data on small-business R&D performance presented in this InfoBrief come from the annual Survey of Industrial Research and Development sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey was designed to produce national level estimates of R&D performance. The sample includes companies in all size ranges across all non-farm industries, with an emphasis on large R&D performers. A majority of the 32,000 companies sampled report no R&D activity.

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Iowa Innovation Council bill signing 3/19/10 by Governor Chet Culver.

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today signed legislation creating the Iowa Innovation Council, a group of volunteer private business leaders who will work to help ensure Iowa is competitive in the global business economy.
House File 2076 consolidates three existing councils within the Iowa Department of Economic Development: the Bioscience Alliance, Advanced Manufacturing Council and Information Technology Council. Leaders of these groups developed the concept of the Iowa Innovation Council, and they will continue to lead in developing strategies and long-term plans for innovation in targeted industries in Iowa.

The Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010 Sweden, for the first time, tops the rankings as the world's most networked economy.  The Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010 ranks 133 economies on how well they use Information and Communications Technology or ICT to advance their economic growth and development.  The report, published by the World Economic Forum, is being released in Geneva.

Four Nordic countries rank among the top 10. The United States moves down two positions to fifth place. Two Asian tigers, Singapore and Hong Kong also make the top 10.

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For nearly three decades Jack Lasersohn has put money into health care start-ups as an investor for Vertical Group and its predecessor F. Eberstadt & Co. Among his successful investments are Kyphon Inc., which went public in 2002, and E.P. Technologies Inc., which was acquired by Boston-Scientific Corp. in 1995 and pioneered the catheter-based treatment of cardiac arrhythmia.

As a board member for eight health-care companies, Lasersohn has closely followed Congress’ wrangling over health-care reform. We chatted with him today to get his thoughts on the new bill. Here’s an edited excerpt of that interview:

Q. What is your overall reaction to the health-care reform legislation?

There are going to be some positives. There will be more people insured, so there will be greater numbers of dollars flowing into the health-care system. There are things we applaud [such as] the follow-on biologics statute [calling for a 12-year data-exclusivity period for innovator biologics]. The venture capital industry fought very, very hard for a reasonable compromise for data exclusivity.

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