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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.

facebook_andrew_feinbergFacebook has won a patent on displaying a news feed of users’ actions in a social network, raising a ruckus in the blogosphere over the possibility that the world’s largest social network could keep competitors at bay through patent lawsuits.

Facebook applied for the patent in 2006, and it was published on Tuesday. It covers a system of watching and publishing to other what user does on the site — e.g. publishing “Jesse joined the group Friends of the Zoo,” “Tommy became friends with Sammy,” “Suzy sent a virtual Kamikaze shot to Megan.” It does not cover publishing a stream of status updates ala Flickr, but arguably could cover the automated publishing of updates as Google’s new social network publishing tool Buzz does. That lets you feed other services into Buzz, so that when a user uploads photos to their Flickr account, they automatically get published through the Buzz Feed.

After the patent was first publicized by All Facebook, the net’s tech bloggers (and their commenters) began speculating whether Facebook would use the patent to strong-arm potential rivals.

Facebook is declining to address that speculation, but says that the feature is one that users love.

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Leaner, Meaner InnovationAs venture capital continues to shrink in Canada, a new kind of startup backed by a new kind of money is beginning to emerge.

Things have been better for venture capital in Canada. The industry has been contracting over the past five years, a trend that accelerated during last year’s financial crisis as institutional investors started looking for less risky investments. A recent study by the Canadian Venture Capital Association showed VC investment levels at their lowest in 13 years, with Ontario’s numbers dropping off more steeply than other parts of the country. The CVCA says that the industry is “in crisis” and has been calling on the Canadian Government to create a support program to help keep it afloat.

How are investors responding to this “crisis” and what does it mean for high growth technology startups in Toronto? As it turns out, the landscape is changing on both sides of the equation and what is emerging is a new kind of startup backed by a new kind of money.

15 years ago, at the height of the technology bubble, it wasn’t unusual for a startup to raise between $10 and $15 million in order to build and release the first version of a product. Today, startups are getting products to the market on a lot less. “Web-based infrastructure means technology costs are ten times less than they were. What cost us $500,000 in 1999 in the form of back office set-up costs, software development, and licensing can cost less than $10,000 now,” says David Ceolin, Managing Partner at Innovation Grade Capital, an active angel investor and entrepreneur who founded a successful startup in the mid-1990s.

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American competitiveness in engineering, technology and science. Unfortunately, while American competitiveness and innovation in these areas continues to wane, little has been done (except talking) about it! Yesterday, Intel and 24 venture capital funds announced that they plan to invest $3.5 billion in American startups and early stage ventures over the next two years. Further, in addition, several of America’s leading technology companies including Google, Cisco Systems, Intel Microsoft and 13 others pledged to add as many as 10,500 jobs into 2010—mainly by hiring Americans graduating from colleges with degrees in computer science and engineering.

The initiative, named the Invest in America Alliance was formed in response to “steadily declining long-term investments in education, technology and human capital” that has been taking place in the US for past 20 years or more. Put simply, the American education system is not training enough qualified individuals to allow the US to compete with other emerging technology and engineering powerhouses that include China, India Finland, Korea and the Netherlands.

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Product development is a wild animal. It's unimaginably powerful, but you have to make sure it knows who's in charge – at every moment. Oh, and it might bite your head off anyway.

This is true whether we're talking about software, media, or tangible commercial products. And the most common complaint I've heard from leaders is that development is out of control. Here are some telltale messages from the development team:

"We'll be done in 2-3 weeks"
Translation: We're working on things as they come up

"We need a little more money"
Translation: We're working on things as they come up

"We've found a few last things that need to be fixed"
Translation: We're working on things as they come up

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For the eighth consecutive year, the University of Rochester is among the top ten institutions in the country in the amount of royalty revenue it received from licensed technologies. The University ranked ninth in the nation in 2008 in license income according to the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

"We received more revenue in 2008 from our licensed intellectual property than at any other point in the University's history," said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. "This achievement is a testament to the exceptional quality of our scientific community and the ongoing support of government, the business community, donors, and our research partners in academia and industry."

The annual licensing report released this month by AUTM shows that the University of Rochester received $72.3 million in royalty payments for patented technologies that it has licensed to companies. That year the University also made $361.6 million in research expenditures, was issued 25 U.S. patents, applied for 74 new patents, and formed 6 start-up companies based on University technologies. The data in the AUTM report lags by a year and only contains information for 2008.

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Private investors are crucial to the success of high-growth startups that create jobs and tax revenue. Kay Koplovitz describes a new way to encourage them

While Washington wrestles with a jobs bill and a bill to nurture small businesses with tax credits, hiring incentives, and the like, it is neglecting to address the fundamental engine for economic growth: private investment in early-stage companies with big potential.

I propose that the federal government tag along on the tax incentive programs already in place in 30 states meant to stimulate this kind of investment. These programs' purpose is to encourage the development of high-growth business, create jobs, and ultimately return greater tax revenues to the states. The federal version would do the same but increase the scale.

There are 225,000 angel and seed-capital investors in this country, according to Angel Capital Assn. They, not government, will drive the creation of innovative industries that need capital before revenue and certainly before profitability. No bank will lend to these pioneering entrepreneurs, no proposed tax-credit program will help them, as these early-stage companies have losses on the bottom line and no profitability on which to take the small business incentives now proposed.

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Bobsled from 1910We like to think that success in the Olympics is all about athleticism, talent, and hard work.

But using the right gear is also a huge part of the equation. Innovation in the design of athletic equipment has completely transformed many Olympic sports, in some cases forcing major changes to the strategy or even rules of the game.

We've highlighted some of the most dramatic ways in which innovation impacts the sports in the Winter Olympics.

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Late last year I quoted a statistic that said that 80 percent of small businesses were one-man [cough. Or woman] shops and that 50 percent of SMB owners worked from their home. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why so many small business owners and entrepreneurs have taken to the Web to chat and commiserate with others “like them”. But the Web can be intimidating. If you are a small business owner looking to connect with other entrepreneurs, where should you go looking? Where can you hang with fellow SMB owners online?

Entrepreneur-Themed Communities

It seems fitting that as the Web continues to spur Internet entrepreneurs, it’s also spurred communities targeted toward helping them. Web communities like StartupNation, Young Entrepreneur, Brazen Careerist, and EntrepreneurConnect give solo entrepreneurs a place to talk about common problems, share resources and help one another out when possible. These communities often have associated knowledge hubs where people can tap into expert articles, download eBooks, create networking events, and have real discussions. And, of course, they also offer the ability to establish friendships, both professional and personal.

Related to these communities are social voting communities where small business owners can submit and promote their content. Doing so helps others find information that may help them and they can also use it to brand themselves in a particular area. [disclosure: This site is owned by Anita Campbell] is one example of a site allows SMB owners to promote themselves and others through their content. There’s even an associated BizSugar Twitter account they can connect with.

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John Berry / The Post-StandardSyracuse, NY -- Mike Haynie is assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University and national director of the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities, a national training program for post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities.

Mike Haynie is an assistant professor of entrepreneurship in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises at Syracuse University's Martin J. Whitman School of Management. Staff Writer Michelle Breidenbach interviewed Haynie about the challenges of starting a business.

When is a good time to start your own business?

When you feel like you’ve done your due diligence, you understand the market, the customers that you’re going to serve and the nature of the competitive environment. Ultimately, you just have to pull the trigger. I think there are more potential entrepreneurs — folks out there thinking about launching a business — than there are entrepreneurs. To get people beyond the fear, especially if this is their first venture, is a tough thing to do.

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How can people do the right thing and cash in on it?

Green tech startup RecycleBank rewards households for their recycling habits with points credit they can use at over a thousand stores such as Whole Foods and Bed, Bath & Beyond. The customers have online accounts where they can verify what items are recyclable, track the points they've earned and where they can spend them.

While saving the environment might seem like a good enough reason to get people to recycle, RecycleBank CEO Ron Gonen found that changing consumers' behavior is more effective when people receive immediate, tangible rewards for their efforts.

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Partnership WoesThe startup was in a tizzy.

One of its largest partners who sourced the startup’s products, bundled them with other offerings and sold them to customers had decided to make the products itself.

The partner was much larger than the startup, had more money and reach. About 10% of the startup’s revenues came from this large partner, albeit at a lower margin than if the startup sold products directly.
On the other hand, it did not have to incur additional sales and marketing costs. For the partner, the revenues from the startup were a tiny fraction of its current revenues but the market opportunity was large and fast growing. It was quite possible that the startup would be in direct competition with its partner before long. The startup was therefore understandably nervous – should it continue to supply the partner or should it stop supplying products? Should it aggressively cultivate other comparably large partners while continuing to do business with this partner?

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Types of Posts To Incorporate On Your BlogIt doesn’t matter how many blogging ideas you’ve got stacked up. Sometimes you just get in a rut. You feel like you’re writing the same thing over and over again. You feel like you’re not providing any value and you’re so bored with what you’re writing that YOU don’t even want to read it, let alone anyone else. So what do you do? How do you get back in your blogging groove?

You put some spice back into it by getting out of your comfort zone and incorporating different kinds of blog posts. You give readers something fresh and that they maybe weren’t expecting.

Here are some different blog post varieties that you can count on to put some flavor back into your blogging.

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