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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.

A reader asks: My co-founder and I are ready to hire a couple of key employees, and one of our advisors suggested we set-up a stock option plan and offer that as an incentive. What is a stock option and what are some of the issues we need to worry about?

Answer: The formal answer here is: An employee stock option is a security that gives select staffers the right to buy a certain number of shares of the company’s common stock at a predetermined price at some point in the future. The answer that might mean more to you, though, is: Options are a way to give employees an incentive to work harder to ensure the company succeeds, since as the stock price increases, their options gain value.

Because it provides employees with this opportunity to benefit directly from any gain in the company’s value, stock options are quite common in startups. From a founder’s perspective, they’re appealing since they avoid any cash outlays and align the interests of the owner and workers.

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CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- IKEA, the world's largest home furnishing retailer, has released its 2009 Sustainability Report (September 1, 2008August 31, 2009), which recaps and highlights its progress in many areas including integrating sustainability into all IKEA strategies as well as the entire product life cycle. This integrated way of thinking is rudimentary in order to tackle some of the environmental challenges that our world faces today. Aptly named 'The Never Ending Job,' the report explains IKEA's continued focus on identifying good resources and using more efficient materials. The report can be found at

"IKEA is obsessed with making more from less, and we don't like to waste resources of any kind. This will continue to be our compass in years to come, and we will stimulate new thinking and innovation in our sustainability work," stated Mikael Ohlsson, President and CEO, IKEA Group.

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You gave up your cushy job and stepped out of your comfort zone in pursuit of your dream of becoming an entrepreneur. And now that you have realized your dream and are ready to scale-up and take the next step, are you facing hurdles as far as HR is concerned?

If your answer is yes, don’t worry – it’s what every entrepreneur faces at some point or the other during operations expansion.

When you started out, the entrepreneurial energy kept the company going. Being a small team, everybody knew what everybody else was doing and there was ‘collective will’ to make things happen.

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As a startup entrepreneur you’ll have many demands for your time. Especially if you start to have a degree of success or build a high public profile. Everyone will want you to speak at conferences. Service providers will want to get to know you. Potential employees want to “get together.” VC’s will want to learn about what you’re up to and later stage VCs will have their 23-year-old analysts call you to tell you how interested they are in your company.

The problem is that the scarcest resource in any entrepreneur’s life is your time. Yet we all feel guilty not doling out time for anybody who asks – especially if we were introduced. I know! I feel the same way. I’m trying to embrace my inner “NO” a little more in my life. One simply can’t take every meeting.

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Can Jonathan Cohen do it again? The Maryland diagnostics CEO helped push through his state's biotech tax credit, which has proved popular enough to bring executives to an all-night camp-out in Baltimore two years in a row to grab a piece of the annual $6 million “tax credit-palooza,” as we like to call it.

Now Cohen is part of an effort to win a federal tax credit for investors in biotechs that have received grants from Uncle Sam's Small Business Innovation and Research program.

Wait a second, wasn't there just a biotech tax credit embedded in the health care reform bill? Indeed there was, but the $1 billion tabbed for the Therapeutic Discovery Project Credit will likely be stretched thin, as “The Pink Sheet” reports, even if the IRS sets an individual cap on awards when it issues regulations later this month.

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ORLANDO — Al Gore on Monday made the business case for sustainability and said corporations play a key role in carrying the effort forward.

Gore, speaking at the SAP Sapphire conference in Orlando, said companies were increasingly focused on sustainability and that’s going to have a positive effect on the environment.

“The business community is showing impressive leadership in sustainability,” Gore said.

Much of Gore’s talk was a climate change lecture, but he did note a few reasons why sustainability is becoming more than just a greenwashing marketing mantra and a part of actual business practices.

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Every start-up needs money at the outset. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) had $538 in working capital. Apple (AAPL) got its early funding, a reputed $250,000, from a former Intel (INTC) engineer who struck it rich on his stock when the chip maker went public.

Unfortunately for tech entrepreneurs, seed money has become harder to get and the outlook is worse. A witching hour triple threat endangers the ability of start-ups to raise money. A combination of fundamental shifts on Wall Street, regulatory modifications from Congress, and changing habits of venture capitalists will shake how young companies seek funding to establish themselves and grow.

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In an earlier column , I explained that older people start businesses at a much higher rate than younger ones. As I wrote there, “the incorporated self-employment rate is 4 times higher among those aged 65 to 69 than among those aged 25 to 34—and a whopping 25 times higher than among those aged 20 to 24.”

This pattern worries some observers, who believe it reflects a lack of job opportunities for older Americans. For instance, writing in the True Slant, Anne Field argues that many older entrepreneurs today are being driven to start businesses because they have lost their jobs and cannot get new ones.

It is doubtless true that in today’s economic environment, some entrepreneurs of all ages have chosen to start businesses because they were laid off and couldn’t find new jobs. However, the data don’t indicate that the high level of entrepreneurial activity among those over 55 can be attributed primarily to recent high levels of job loss. As Dane Stangler explained in a report he wrote for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, “In every single year from 1996 to 2007, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34.” That is, boom or bust – and we have seen several of each since the mid-1990s – older Americans are more likely to run their own businesses than younger ones.

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8 Websites You Need to Stop Building - Websites that let me know what my friends are up to; Website whose sole purpose is to share things; Read the entire oatmeal list here.

Friend or Foe? Angels, VCs Debate Who has the Upper hand: “It’s The Angels’ Time,” was the title of the speech by angel investor and blogger Basil Peters, who asserted that VCs are essentially dinosaurs saddled with too-big funds at a time when entrepreneurs can create companies cheaply and quickly, sometimes over a weekend.

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Since it launched in 2005, YouTube has become one of the few Internet properties that's much more than a domain name. Like Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Twitter, YouTube has become an essential service of the Internet. It's a utility, a social network, a search engine, a source of online storage, and an endless source of consternation for content owners. Some quick numbers:

YouTube now gets 2 billion views per day, 30% of which come from the U.S. The three most popular videos are Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," at 196 million views and change, with "Charlie bit my finger" and "The Evolution of Dance" following behind at 186 million and 143 million, respectively. About 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute these days, and it'd take 1,700 years to watch all the video currently available.

The challenges YouTube faces in the future are both familiar and foreign. How to make money, for one thing, a challenge the site has not yet overcome (that's about the nicest way I could possibly say that--it's YouTube's birthday, after all, and I don't want to be rude). How to provide mainstream, for-profit content is another challenge, one that's the subject of constant work, from Vevo to the new movie rental service.

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Top gear: Researchers used software called "Carshark" to access a car’s computer systems. This allowed them to control the dashboard display and the car's engine—and they fear hackers could do the same in the future. Credit: Center for Automotive Embedded Systems Security This week researchers will present a study showing what could happen if a determined hacker went after the computer systems embedded in cars. The researchers found that, among other things, an attacker could disable the vehicle's brakes, stop its engine, or take control of its door locks. All the attacker needs is access to the federally mandated onboard diagnostics port-- located under the dashboard in almost all cars today.

The researchers point to a recent report showing that a typical luxury sedan now contains about 100 megabytes of code that controls 50 to 70 computers inside the car, most of which communicate over a shared internal network.

"In a lot of car architectures, all the computers are interconnected, so that having taken over one component, there's a substantive risk that you could take over all the rest of them. Once you're in, you're in," says Stefan Savage, an associate professor in the department of computer science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego, who is one of the lead investigators on the project.

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