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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.

GrouponChicago-based Web site Groupon launched in 2008, and already an entire industry of imitators has sprung up around the world.

Click here to check out 10 sites offering deals with group coupons >

Groupon partners with restaurants and service providers to offer a major coupon in each city it covers every day, with a catch: The offer is only valid if some minimum number of people sign up for it. This ensures merchants that any deal they offer will generate a high volume of sales, and creates an incentive for consumers to provide free marketing, spreading the word about a deal on social networks to make sure enough people sign up to trigger it. As a result, merchants can offer better deals than they might otherwise.

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A newly published report from the non-profit organization Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution, suggests that innovation is one of the key assets needed to restore Ohio to the prosperity level the state enjoyed for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. The “Restoring Prosperity” agenda calls for a new era of innovation and a re-energizing of Ohio’s entrepreneurial culture. Specifically the report recommends the state:

  • Preserve Ohio Third Frontier funding.
  • Find creative sources of funding for innovation-based economic development.
  • Significantly expand the state’s advanced manufacturing network.
  •  Create micro-investment funds.
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EurActiv LogoItalian plastic surgeon Luca Poli, who benefited from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, said the three months he spent shadowing a businesswoman in Spain were key to the success of his new clinic in Milan. The EU scheme has been extended for a second year and could soon become a permanent fixture.

Poli is one of 1,800 business people registered in the exchange programme, which allows Europeans to shadow established entrepreneurs before launching their own ventures.

The €5 million pilot scheme has been extended for a second year and a European Commission official has revealed plans to put the initiative on a permanent footing. To date, 60 exchanges have been completed but this could climb to 500 by June 2010.

The mobility programme has been highly successful in Italy and Spain, which account for nearly half of all applications. The UK is by far the most requested destination, primarily for linguistic reasons, according to Eurochambres, the umbrella organisation for EU chambers of commerce, which coordinates the scheme.

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Radical Innovation is a Proposal, Not a ProductWe've noticed a common thread among many companies these days. When thinking about innovation - most seem to be heavily focused on providing incremental features and benefits as a cornerstone for their competitive advantage. What seems to elude many executive leaders is a lack of understanding that people do not buy products, they buy into meanings.

Maybe the reason for this is simply the physics of most organizations inhibits radical innovation and the competitive advantage that results. What matters the most to people is not the function of a product, but their emotional, psychological and cultural connection to what a product means to them. The key to sustained competitive advantage for companies is to innovate around meanings rather than function and performance. Radical Innovation does not happen when you bring people an incremental improvement of what they already know. Rather, radical innovation (and market leadership for that matter) is the result of 'proposing' an unexpected meaning. This meaning, unsolicited by user needs, once discovered, turns out to be the very thing people were waiting for!

There are countless examples of companies who have mastered this. Of course, Apple is an easy one. And there are other compelling examples. Back in the early 80's, Seiko and Casio were driving technological innovation in quartz watches, believing people wanted technical precision. However, a Swiss watchmaker realized people cared more about self-expression than technical precision. Swatch was born and proved to be a radical innovation of meaning that created radical market success. While Seiko and Casio were closely observing user needs and existing meanings, Swatch created new ones.

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  • January 25, 2010: Solicitation was issued for public release
  • February 23, 2010: DoD will begin accepting proposals
  • March 24, 2010: Deadline for receipt of proposals by 6:00 a.m. EST -- plan ahead and submit early.

February 16, 2010


NOTE: Topic A10a-T027 has been removed from this solicitation.

Program Solicitation -- This file contains the proposal preparation instructions and requirements, program description, definitions, methods of selection and evaluation criteria, and contracting information. The Program Solicitation is available in the following formats:

  • HTML format
  • PDF format -- can be viewed using Adobe Acrobat Reader (download it FREE)
  • MS Word 95, 97, and 2000 format

    Important Note: In addition to following the DoD-wide instructions in the Program Solicitation, proposers must also follow the specific instructions of the DoD Component (Army and Navy) to which they are applying -- see Solicitation Topics below.

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octopuscam.jpgThe Smithsonian National Zoo just got a Pacific Giant Octopus. (Weeeelll, sort of. It's a baby, and currently only about three pounds. But it'll be giant someday, promise.) The little critter doesn't have a name yet, but he (they think it's probably a he, maybe) does have a web cam. The camera is set up to capture the octopus at feeding times—11 and 3 Eastern, daily. Which is, coincidentally, right about the time I could use a good cephalopod fix in my day.

Even better, this announcement led me to discover that the National Zoo has a ton of different animal web cams. Seriously, they're set up like a bunch of teenage emo girls over there. Lions, naked mole rats (!!), single-celled organisms, sloth bears (?!): You can watch 'em all live.

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Don’t miss out on these great upcoming events, especially the Small Business Summit on March 16th – which features an appearance by Anita Campbell, Founder of Small Business Trends. (Note that several events in this week’s list have upcoming early bird deadlines.)

This list of events, conferences and webinars for growing small businesses and entrepreneurs is brought to you twice a month as a community service by Small Business Trends and Smallbiztechnology.com

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Scott Hanson, co-founder of Ambiq MicroThe University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies held the finals for its annual all-student business plan competition, the Michigan Business Challenge, over the weekend. From 85 initial applications, a record number for the school, four advanced to the finals, and the winner was Ambiq Micro, which took $27,000 in cash grants.

Formerly known as Cubiq Microchip, the company was founded by Scott Hanson, a research fellow in the University of Michigan’s college of engineering; David Blaauw and Dennis Sylvester, professors from the department of electrical engineering and computer science; and David Landman and Philip O’Niel, two M.B.A. candidates.

Ambiq Micro plans to sell low-power microprocessors that could  substantially extend the battery life of a range of tiny wireless devices. The start-up’s technology could be used in smart credit cards, computers, sensors that control temperature or detect motion in smart homes and buildings, and a variety of medical and mobile devices.

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professor classroom business studentsEven though every startup is different, there are a few universal truths to entrepreneurship.

But most small businesses only learn them through trial and error.

Fortunately, Under30CEO has now compiled a list of 100 things every young entrepreneur should know, straight from the mouths of other small business owners.

They asked startup veterans to answer one simple question: “What do you wish you knew before you started a business?”

Some of the answers are not that surprising ("I wish I would have known how unpredictable things can be at ALL times..."), but many have valuable insights that most first-time entrepreneurs might not think about until it's too late.

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TR50To select the 50 most innovative companies in the world, the editors of Technology Review looked for those that over the last year have demonstrated their superiority at inventing technology and using it both to grow as businesses and to transform how we live. We identified the companies that have the most promising technologies, whether they are giant corporations or fledgling startups with initial venture capital investments. Then we examined their business models, their strategies for deploying and scaling up their technologies, and the likelihood that they will succeed. The result is the first annual TR50.

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Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at R&D Commercialization Forum
National Academy of Sciences
Washington, D.C.

Thank you all for coming today.

The people in front of me speak to the critical importance technology commercialization has for universities, businesses and policymakers.

And I hope the fruits of our discussions today will resonate beyond Washington.

Technology commercialization isn't just a matter of parochial interest for the stakeholders gathered here or folks on Capitol Hill.

It is a matter of paramount public interest.

How well America moves ideas out of the research lab and into the marketplace will determine whether we remain the most competitive and vibrant economy in the world.

And it will determine whether thousands, perhaps millions, of good jobs in high-growth industries like clean energy, biotechnology and IT will be created here in America for the benefit of our workers, or whether those jobs will migrate abroad.

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