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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.

[vctip0606]The process of selecting, pitching and ultimately negotiating with a VC can be intimidating, especially to those not accustomed to the world of high finance. I asked Lori Hoberman, head of Chadbourne & Parke LLP's emerging-companies/venture-capital practice in New York, to explain the various steps. Here's what she said:

Pinpoint the ideal VC.

First, an entrepreneur must target the right venture capital investment fund to pitch. That requires some research. It's a good idea to attend venture capital and private equity conferences. Ask an attorney or accountant for a referral. Online databases such as VentureSource (owned by Dow Jones) provide information on the latest venture deals. And most VCs host websites that describe their "sweet spot" and existing portfolio investments, Ms. Hoberman says. Don't waste time pitching your biodiesel fuel business to a VC that only invests in software.

Prepare a "teaser" document.

This one-or two-page document that you send to VCs is your way of introducing yourself—and it's got to be memorable. Tell the VC who you are, what need you fill in the market and how that market translates into dollars. Because most VCs are barraged with investment requests and can give each one only limited consideration, every sentence of your teaser needs to "answer the question about why an investor would ever dream of putting money into you," Ms. Hoberman advises. "It forces you, as the entrepreneur, to think in sound bites." She recommends incorporating text and graphics (pictures, pie charts or graphs) into the document. "The whole idea is to tease the investor into wanting to hear more," she says.

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SAN FRANCISCO — When one of the most important e-mail messages of his life landed in his in-box a few years ago, Kord Campbell overlooked it.

Not just for a day or two, but 12 days. He finally saw it while sifting through old messages: a big company wanted to buy his Internet start-up.

“I stood up from my desk and said, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’ ” Mr. Campbell said. “It’s kind of hard to miss an e-mail like that, but I did.”

The message had slipped by him amid an electronic flood: two computer screens alive with e-mail, instant messages, online chats, a Web browser and the computer code he was writing. (View an interactive panorama of Mr. Campbell's workstation.)

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Titaly-worldcup.jpghere are many things that make me a crappy entrepreneur. Just naming a few: I second guess myself, I spend too much time on projects, and the act of speaking to people in real life makes me want to throw up. Not exactly a shining example of a business owner, right?

That said there is something that has helped me in my trials as a reluctant entrepreneur. Do you want to know what it is?

I’m competitive. And I’ve been taught how to compete.

As a kid, my competitiveness was channeled through sports. Being tiny and less than 100 pounds through the age of 14, I broke a lot of bones hurling my body at competitors on the soccer field. I had no fear of getting hurt, even if that meant I spent much of my youth in arm casts.

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spreadsheetDivide your salary by 1,000. While recommending business books on a blog post last week I said a business book pays for itself in less than an hour. A reader asked me how I measured that. If you want quick and dirty, then divide the annual salary by 1,000 and that’s the hourly cost to the company. That’s your time-is-money rate. It’s valid for you, for your team members, for your company.

When I say it’s valid, I mean as a guideline for understanding costs and making decisions. It’s just a rough estimate. And I think it’s probably a useful exercise, so here it is, as you would work it out in your favorite spreadsheet:

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LogoFirst lady Michelle Obama and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick Corvington announced today that several foundations and private philanthropists have committed a total of $45 million over the next two years to be used primarily as matching funds for programs chosen by the $50 million Social Innovation Fund (SIF).

The rationale behind SIF, which is overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service. is to leverage public money to bring in private money to help develop new social programs that work, and then to replicate those programs. The first batch of 69 applications are now being considered. Grants are to be awarded in July.

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doghouse_may10.gifIf you are a subscriber to Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis's listserv (you are, right?), you probably found your email inbox slammed last week when the list briefly allowed recipients to reply to the entire list. In today's "Jason Nation" missive, Calacanis apologized, explaining the error and using it as a launching pad to discuss what can be an unpleasant but sometimes necessary task: firing an employee at your startup.

In the case of Calacanis's email, it seems, the sys-admins who set up the list accidentally left the "post to list" setting on for several thousand list members. Oops. Calacanis recognized the problem almost immediately and shut the email server down. And according to Calacanis, the individual responsible was apologetic, fearing that he'd be fired.

Read more ... achieve victory in the corporate world, a start-up needs three things, says serial entrepreneur and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. One of those – a product that’s ten times better than the nearest competitor – has a little wiggle room, but the others need to stand firm. Andreessen describes all three in this entrepreneur thought leader lecture given at Stanford University.

Read more ... Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced it is soliciting applications for the FY 2010 "Mapping Regional Innovation Clusters Project" competition.

EDA is allocating $1,500,000 in FY 2010, anticipating that the mapping regional innovation clusters award or awards made under this competitive solicitation will involve a multi-year project period, with total funding for this research effort reaching up to $1,000,000 for each year. Funding beyond the first year for the grant award shall be contingent on satisfactory performance, availability of appropriations, and EDA priorities.

Read more ... Chinese machine clocked in as the second-fastest on the latest list of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers—making the country a serious challenger to American dominance in the industry.

The speedy Chinese computer, called Nebulae, is based at the National Supercomputing Center, in Shenzhen. It reached a computing speed of 1.27 petaflops, a rate of one quadrillion calculations per second. The machine is theoretically capable of running at almost three petaflops, the highest speed ever. The Cray Jaguar supercomputer, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee, remains the world's fastest machine on record at 1.75 petaflops, though its theoretical peak performance is lower than Nebulae's.

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America needs to transform its energy system, and the Great Lakes region (including, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and western New York) possesses many of the needed innovation assets. For that reason, the federal government should leverage this troubled region’s research and engineering strengths by launching a region-wide network of collaborative, high intensity energy research and innovation centers.

Currently, U.S. energy innovation efforts remain insufficient to ensure the development and deployment of clean energy technologies and processes. Such deployment is impeded by multiple market problems that lead private firms to under-invest and to focus on short-term, low-risk research and product development. Federal energy efforts—let alone state and local ones—remain too small and too poorly organized to deliver the needed breakthroughs. A new approach is essential.

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Science BlogA Nova Southeastern University study recently presented at a national conference found that 80 percent of poker players around the world reported using drugs and other substances to enhance their performance in poker.

Poker players are using drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, Valium, and other prescription medications, as well as substances including caffeine, energy drinks and guarana to get an edge over their opponents.

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