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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.

Castile Ventures’ Nina SaberiThe venture industry lately has been singing the praises of small funds, but Castile Ventures has been practicing the strategy for more than a decade.

To understand the firm’s culture, says founder and Managing General Partner Nina Saberi, you have to know how she grew as an entrepreneur, working in the ranks of venture-backed companies after graduating from college in the 1980s and then running them in the 1990s. Along the way she was mentored by the likes of ComVentures co-founder Cliff Higgerson and Crosspoint Venture Partners founder John Mumford, both of whom helped her launch Castile in 1998.

Saberi watched the venture industry grow, with fund sizes ballooning to $300 million, $500 million and eventually north of $1 billion, and didn’t get it. “For someone who comes from the company-building side of things, I was just puzzled by the whole dynamic,” she said. “I didn’t understand why suddenly it should cost $70 million to build a company that you were able to build for maybe $25 million or $35 million just a year before.”

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RealtyHandshake.jpgFrom knowing who to hire next, to ethical and legal concerns, to how to interview the best candidates, to how to evaluate them once they're hired - startups have their work cut out for them when it comes to hiring.

If you can afford to hire a trained professional, someone who's skilled in evaluative testing, do so. But if not, you need to learn as much as you can about how to hire the right people. Here's our contribution to your endeavor.

How Does a Startup Know Who to Hire Next?

First it must be said that each startup has different needs. But in general, a startup that's still in pursuit of funding requires a sales-oriented team, whereas a startup with funding sources that have begun to stabilize can focus its team on more specific objectives.

In general, Anthony Cerminaro of AllBusiness says that the classic hiring stage starts with hiring someone to build a prototype. Then a manger is hired to turn the prototype into a product. Then a business manager is hired to coordinate business opportunities for the product. Then a lawyer is hired. Finally, someone is hired to focus on overall business development.

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An in-depth look at the economic incentive programs available to support New York City’s emerging bioscience industry

WHAT'S INSIDE

  • Biotech Tax Credits
  • Financing Programs
  • Programs for Mid-stage and Mature Companies
  • Key Contact Information

New York City and New York State have a range of valuable tax credits and incentives. This bioscience incentives guide is designed to help you take full advantage of these programs.

Download the PDF

From NYCEDC : New York City Economic Development Corporation

Light materials: Cadmium telluride, a semiconductor that’s good at absorbing light, can be used to make inexpensive solar panels. Credit: GE GE has confirmed long-standing speculation that it plans to make thin-film solar panels that use a cadmium- and tellurium-based semiconductor to capture light and convert it into electricity. The GE move could put pressure on the only major cadmium-telluride solar-panel maker, Tempe, AZ-based First Solar, which could drive down prices for solar panels.

Last year, GE seemed to be getting out of the solar industry as it sold off crystalline-silicon solar-panel factories it had acquired in 2004. The company found that the market for such solar panels--which account for most of the solar panels sold worldwide--was too competitive for a relative newcomer, says Danielle Merfeld, GE's solar technology platform leader.

She says cadmium-telluride solar is attractive to GE in part because, compared to silicon, there's still a lot to learn about the physics of cadmium telluride, which suggests it could be made more efficient, which in turn can lower the cost per watt of solar power. It's also potentially cheaper to make cadmium-telluride solar panels than it is to make silicon solar cells, making it easier to compete with established solar-panel makers. Merfeld says GE was encouraged by the example of First Solar, which has consistently undercut the prices of silicon solar panels--and because of this has quickly grown from producing almost no solar panels just a few years ago to being one of the world's largest solar manufacturers today.

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Many angel investors will tell you, that of the hundreds of business plans they receive each month, only a handful address the due diligence process. Investors will always allow a little puffery in a business plan, but they’ll also want to see the “proof in the pudding”, before any money changes hands. This is commonly referred to in the investment world as doing their “due diligence”.

What is due diligence? Well, let say, you’ve just created the world’s first time machine, but it’s still only on the drawing board. Now, you need an angel investment to procure a few items to test it:

  • 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 sports car;
  • Photo-electric Chemical Power Converter (converts radioactive plutonium to electricity);
  • Flux Capacitor (releases 1.21 gigawatts of energy in a millisecond);
  • Plutonium (be careful or you’ll get a visit from Homeland Security);
  • Blueprints for construction;
  • Well documented preliminary test results and planned prototype testing;
  • Michael J. Fox to test drive it “Back to the Future”.
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Eve DmochowskaA start-up investment model developed by SA entrepreneur Eve Dmochowska (pictured) and her colleagues to solve key problems in SA start-up financing proved a big hit at the annual South by South West (SxSW) Interactive festival held in Austin, Texas earlier this week. Dan Oshinsky, a reporter for a local news station, described her as one of the best presenters he had seen at SxSW, alongside such luminaries as Clay Shirky and Marc Cuban.

The idea she presented, CrowdFunding, will obtain investment in R1 000 blocks from individuals, and raise R1m for its first fund. It is structured as a trust, which resolves a number of regulatory issues around investments and soliciting funds from the public.

The idea was launched almost by accident. When the news leaked out of a small preview circle, the pledges began streaming in, with 254 investors offering R842 000 in just the first two weeks. This was well ahead of her expectations, which was that R1m might take three or four months to raise.

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altThe government has launched a UK Space Agency dedicated to coordinating the government's involvement in civilian spaceflight, with responsiblity for looking after policy and budgets.

The national space agency, which officially begins work on 1 April, will negotiate on the UK's behalf with international bodies. In addition, it will take over responsibility for some key UK and European space projects, including Galileo, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The agency was set up to help spur growth in the British space and satellite industry, which employs 68,000 workers and generates £6.5bn a year, according to science and technology minister Lord Drayson.

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EurActiv LogoOver a million jobs and up to €240 billion in business could be lost in the European Union over the next five years as a result of illegal downloading, according to a new study into Internet piracy.

The study, by Paris-based TERA Consultants for the International Chamber of Commerce, focused on piracy in Europe's music, film, television and software industries.

Those industries generated €860 billion and employed 14.4 million people in 2008. But in the same year, €10 billion and 186,000 jobs were lost to piracy, the study found.

If that trend continues – and the rapid increase in illegal downloads and advancing piracy techniques suggest it will – then up to 1.2 million jobs and €240 billion worth of European commerce could be wiped out by 2015.

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EurActiv LogoFrench Finance Minister Christine Lagarde wants the EU to create a single access point for trading shares of young, high-growth businesses and has proposed a range of measures to encourage innovative companies to list on European stock exchanges.

Lagarde is also keen to simplify market obligations for small, medium and intermediate companies, allowing them more time to publish quarterly reports, ease accounting standards and produce less detailed prospectuses when listing on stock markets.

"There are many things we disagree about but there is hardly ever disagreement on the importance of small businesses as drivers for growth, employment and R&D," she told a meeting in Brussels, hosted by the European Capital Markets Institute (ECMI).

The proposal for a joint EU system for trading shares in innovative companies is contained in a report by Fabrice Demarigny, a capital markets expert, who produced a a detailed plan for Lagarde which she published last week (18 March).

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Tiphone with appshe soaring popularity of smart phones has created a new type of entrepreneur - the "app developer".

Whether it is finding ladies' toilets on the London underground, identifying bird songs, forecasting snow conditions at ski resorts or just buying stuff online, somebody, somewhere has come up with a clever little computer program that lets you do the task from your handset.

The industry has grown up around the iPhone. More than 140,000 different iPhone applications have appeared since Apple opened its Apps Store on iTunes to outside developers in July 2008.

Although it is the dominant player, there are many more to choose from including those from BlackBerry, Microsoft, Google, Nokia, and Samsung.

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As reported by General Motors

Burbank, Calif. – General Motors Co. is testing a production-intent hydrogen fuel cell system that can be packaged in the space of a traditional four-cylinder engine and be ready for commercial production in 2015.

The system is half the size, 220 pounds lighter and uses about a third of the platinum of the system in the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicles used in Project Driveway, the world’s largest market test and demonstration fleet of fuel cell electric vehicles that began in late 2007 and has amassed nearly 1.3 million miles of everyday driving in cities around the world.

“Our learning from Project Driveway has been tremendous and these vehicles have been very important to our program,” Charles Freese, executive director of GM's Global Fuel Cell Activities told reporters Tuesday at a news briefing on GM’s fuel cell progress.

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