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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.

InformationWeek GovernmentThe role of the federal chief technology officer is poorly defined and Congress may want to act to codify the CTO's responsibilities, according to the Congressional Research Service, which prepares official reports for Congress.

"There is currently no formal position description for the CTO," says the report, written by CRS science and technology policy specialist John Sargent. "Accordingly, the official duties of the CTO remain largely undefined. If the position or office of the CTO is not established by Congress and provided with statutory authorities and a dedicated budget, it may be difficult for the CTO to affect change in individual federal agencies or systemically throughout the federal government."

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 Governing Cities in a Global Era: Urban Innovation, Competition, and Democratic Reform
By Robin Hambleton, Jill Gross

* Number Of Pages: 292
* Publication Date: 2007-11-15
* ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0230602304
* ISBN-13 / EAN: 9780230602304

Product Description:

Written in a lively and accessible style by leading scholars from eleven countries this is the first global book to pre a thorough examination of the urban challenges now facing city leaders and managers in all continents. The text is organized into three parts: the global ures now impacting urban governance; the innovations currently taking place in urban government; and the heartland themes of leadership, partnership and the democratic challenge. The analysis suggests that global forces pose a grave threat to civilized living – the pursuit of narrow self-interest could drive all cities into a spiral of decline resulting in consumers living isolated lives in separate fortified enclaves. All the authors in this volume reject this vision of our urban future. Instead, by analyzing place-specific experiences and offering new insights on the dynamics of urban change, they propose imaginative routes for reform. This book argues for strategies that can lead to prosperous multi-cultural cities across the world – cities that enhance the quality of life for all citizens.

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pluGGd.inThe following was narrated to me over the weekend by a Professor of Finance and a former finance industry executive with experience in well known multinationals.

“Upon asking his supervisor about his not being promoted even after performing well at his job and being recognized for it as well, he was told that he was asking the wrong question! His supervisor told him “You’re asking the wrong question! You should ask – what should I do to get promoted?” Quite naturally, this confused the finance executive and now Professor all the more. Upon enquiring, he was told by his supervisor that he was undoubtedly very good at his job but hadn’t demonstrated leadership by developing a competent second rung of leadership. “You should make yourself redundant by growing out of your job to be promoted” was the message from the supervisor; else, upon promotion, who would do the executive’s job at least as well as it was being done?!

The executive took the message to heart. In the next 2 years, he was promoted over 4 times! “

Is the same promotion philosophy applicable in a startup as well? I believe it is.

A group of energetic, passionate and talented people come together to create a startup to realize their dreams. In the early days of the startup, when there’s ambiguity and amorphousness about the company’s structure, roles and responsibilities, it is understandable when the founders and early team members do everything and anything possible to get the job done right, on time. After a while, as the startup grows, a more formal structure comes into being.

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Oscar Morales Guevara counsels One Young World delegates.LONDON, England (CNN) -- We witness today, at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, one of the most astonishing phenomena of the digital era: the consolidation of the social network, and even more, the empowerment of the worldwide youth thanks to these tools.

All of us certainly have a profile on Facebook or Twitter, and for sure we have seen dozens of videos on YouTube. Some of you only see on these tools the possibility to be connected with your relatives and your closest friends, exchange pictures and publish information about your activities.

But this is only the surface, the tip of the iceberg. What many people ignore is what is emerging underneath. These social media networks, whether we like it or not, are reshaping the way people communicate.

They have united the people from all over the world in one global village, in a gigantic conversation, where day after day opinions are exchanged around initiatives to face the diversity of problems that affect the way we live.

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Key spch ParliamentIn his opening speech to Parliament, Prime Minister John Key has signaled increased spending for science and innovation as part of his overall plan to improve New Zealand’s economic health.

This spending will be strongly linked to industry engagement with public sector science, and will focus on targeted research and development rather than basic research.

An excerpt:

“The challenge for New Zealand is to get more of our firms using science, research and technology to deliver more valuable products and services, which in turn allows them to succeed in competitive export markets and to create new and better-paid jobs for New Zealanders.

“Science and innovation are therefore key elements of the Government’s economic agenda, both this year and into the future.

“Our objective is a high-performing public science system which supports economic growth, and a wider innovation system that encourages firms to increase their investment in, take-up, and application of research.

“…Science and innovation, and how they can underpin business opportunities, are so important for this Government that we have made this area a priority for new spending in this year’s Budget, with a focus on boosting business research and science capability.”
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ycombinator_image_feb10.jpgBetween Y Combinator's Startup School, the influx of seed fund incubators, the list of legendary mentors and investors and the dotcom bust's school of hard knocks, is there really any reason to go to grad school? At ReadWriteWeb we're supportive of lifelong learning and universities that coach entrepreneurs, but a recent post by Venture Hacks founder Naval Ravikant has us wondering, "What is the value in grad school?"

ycombinator_image_feb10.jpgRavikant suggests that incubators and accelerators like YCombinator and Techstars are the new grad school.

He writes, "In some ways, it's better," and that unlike business schools, YCombinator pays entrepreneurs, which allows founders to be their own boss and encourages original work.

In addition to Ravikant's points, the fact that every incubator participant is connected to advisors through a financial agreement means the group may be motivated to maintain their network and share contacts. Nevertheless, before dismissing the idea of grad school altogether, it's good to remember many of the top entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley are MIT, Harvard and CalTech grads (including some of the Venture Hacks team). Perhaps the argument here is not so much about incubators over traditional institutions, but in the value of good mentors that have a stake in your success and do not rest on the laurels of a tenured position.

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My PhotoThe New Republic (Rahman and Muro) - [T]he new budget unveils not one, but several proposals to support regional industry or innovation “clusters” through multiple federal departments. Clusters, as we have noted previously, are a fundamental fact of national economies, and a critical enhancer of regional economic performance. However, as we have also noted, the U.S. lags other nations in providing support to these “bottom-up,” region-based systems of business development, innovation, and talent matching. And so the 2011 budget seeks to change that by applying cluster approaches across multiple segments of the federal delivery system--rather than anchoring it in a single agency.

And so at least four agencies are this year engaged in a new, more pervasive embrace of cluster policy in the 2011 budget:

  • The EDA’s proposed $75 million Regional Innovation Clusters program would provide regional planning and matching grants focused on leveraging regions’ competitive strengths to boost job creation and economic growth. (See pages 2, 41, 46 of the Department of Commerce Budget-in-Brief)
  • The Small Business Administration would support EDA’s cluster effort by directing a proposed $11 million toward promoting greater small business participation in regional clusters by better coordinating its resources for business counseling, training, and mentor-protégé partnerships. (See page 136 of the President’s Proposed FY2011 budget for the SBA
  • The Department of Labor (DOL) would use its newly proposed Workforce Innovation Fund (of up to an estimated $108 million) to help ensure that the workforce development system also aligns with regional cluster growth by facilitating regional collaboration among training and employment services providers and stronger linkages with employers so that worker training leads to good jobs. (See pages 4, 17 of the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration Congressional Budget Justification)
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to invest $12 million to promote new “NSF Innovation Ecosystems” as a part of its existing $19.2 million Partnerships for Innovation program. The new “innovation ecosystem” component aims to support regional innovation clusters around universities by engaging faculty and students across all disciplines in efforts to increase the impact of promising innovations through commercialization, industry alliances, and start-up formation. (See page 4 of the NSF Budget Overview)
  • The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) budget request calls for a Regional Innovation Initiative to align federal resources to promote more economic opportunities in rural communities and have greater regional impact.(See page 14 of the USDA Budget Summary 
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Many small businesses continue to experience cash flow problems – the majority, in fact, according to a survey by the Discover Small Business Watch.

That cash flow is an issue right now for small businesses might sound obvious to most of you that run your own businesses, but a worsening trend might not be. So here’s a chart that shows what has been going on with small business cash flow over the past three years.

The figure plots the percentage of respondents to the Discover Small Business Watch monthly survey of a random sample of 750 small business owners who answered “yes,” they are experiencing temporary cash flow issues. Although there has been a slight down tick over the past two months, the chart shows a (noisy) trend towards an increasing share of small business owners experiencing these problems. (The thick blue line is the actual data; the thin black line is the linear trend plotted from it.)

Discover Small Business Watch Cash Flow
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Are the Triangle’s best days behind it after more than 25 years of growth? As the Research Triangle Park enters its sixth decade of existence, has it passed its peak as one of the world’s leading sites for the blending of high tech, life sciences, medicine and education?

What challenges must be overcome during the next 10 years to keep the shine on what former Gov. Jim Hunt likes to call “the Golden Triangle”?

Education, public policy, taxes and maintenance of entrepreneurial passion that leads to growth as well as new businesses, highlight the list of concerns as expressed to Raleigh Metro Magazine in a series of interviews with technology, business and policy leaders.

Steve Ogburn, chief executive officer at Capstone Bank in North Raleigh, was quite succinct in his appraisal.
“The quality of life, good economy, workforce, the government being proactive in recruiting, and the availability of capital” are among the strengths, he explained. On the other hand, the “strength of banks, bank regulation, the weakness of government budget and increased taxes” are among the threats.

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Wisconsin long has lagged other states in venture capital funding, but a new "fund of funds" could help change that. It's a great idea.

Think of a lush summer's garden - a difficult thought to conjure in early February, but bear with us.

To grow the garden, you will need to transplant vegetables from someone else's garden, tend the plants you already have or plant a lot of seeds and hope they germinate.

Economic development is something like that. For the Milwaukee 7 region to grow, business and government leaders must get better at the care and feeding of existing companies, attract new ones and grow our own.

So, we were encouraged by the recent news that a group of business and government leaders are planning to raise $100 million for a Wisconsin-based venture capital fund.

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pluGGd.inWe all probably know a lot about HR management and the value of good team in a startup. To further help on the same issue we surveyed some startup employees and have compiled a list of most popular and significant mistakes committed by some well known Indian startups and their founders. For privacy issues we have not used any names.

1. Forgetting to appreciate: You have read enough about employee motivation but you must learn to appreciate daily procedural work as well. Things that look trivial actually make a lot of difference to your company in the long run. Like a good resume found by your HR department on Naukri or forwarded by your current employee. Appreciate that, even if it was their daily work. This requires consistency and may not be easy but certainly keeps the employee excited all the time. – HR executive, BPO

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Camille Sobrian, left, is chief operating officer and Moya Gollaher is executive vice president of CONNECT, which has opened an office in Washington, D.C., to help local high-tech and life sciences entrepreneurs and their companies. Most high-tech entrepreneurs and innovators don’t have time to put on a tie and sit through a three-hour meeting about policy issues in Washington, D.C. They are too busy creating the next generation of digital mobile applications and lifesaving health care products, and creating jobs for the new innovation economy. There has not been a strong voice or presence in the nation’s capital to represent these innovators, who neither have the money nor bandwidth to lobby or educate representatives on their needs and interests — until now.

CONNECT, a San Diego-based nonprofit tech organization, has opened an office in Washington, D.C., to help facilitate, from a federal level, the needs of local high tech and life science entrepreneurs and their companies.

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