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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.

altA spin-off initiative of the Technology Transfer Office of France's Ecole Polytechnique, PRESANS connects industrial technology needs to a professional network of experts and researchers. It works in three steps:

  1. Translate: the PRESANS scientific committee, composed of senior R&D specialists, translates the industrial need into a scientific problem (challenge).
  2. Broadcast: this challenge is then broadcast to the global network of experts.
  3. Connect: finally the author of the best proposal or solution receives the reward or is connected to the client.

PRESANS is currently working with several industrial clients to start tackling R&D challenges in the near future.

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Georges van HoegaerdenCHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A fantastic television ad by Ally Bank, in my view best describes how Limited Partners (LPs) as the investors committed to Venture have been fooled.

In the event you have not seen the video, it shows a slick man in a business suit sitting cosily around a kids table with two little girls.

The suit then asks one girl if she would want a pony. When she replies yes, he hands her a toy pony. He then moves on to the second girl and asks her if she wants a pony, and then calls in a real pony. Clearly the first girl is upset that she did not get a real pony and complains, upon which the man replies, "well, you didn't ask."

What Pony Did You Ask for, by Virtue of Your Actions?

That is exactly what has happened to LPs in Venture who did not ask the specific questions that could have led to their success in Venture. In many cases those LPs failed to generate impressive returns in Venture because they did not know they had to ask specific questions and should have taken control of the situation in order to get the results that the sector is able to generate.

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Here’s an example of how a small innovation can have a substantial beneficial impact: Heinz redesigns its ketchup packets to hold three times as much ketchup, and to be squeezed or dipped. No more ketchup splurts on clothes, no more having to get three packets to get as much as you’d like, no more having to open the ketchup for your kids. And, of course, as a Pittsburgher I am doubly proud of this redesign.

Seriously. It’s little innovations like this, and like my other favorite example, the non-drip top on laundry detergent bottles, that bubble up from the market and, in aggregate, are great evidence for the plenitude of free enterprise.

The new packet is also cute, which doesn’t hurt …

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Technology transferMost universities, academic institutions and not-for-profit research organizations now have technology transfer offices that bridge the divide between academia and industry. Our two interviewees this month discuss the career opportunities offered by this discipline.

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Facebook is barreling down on its rivals, threatening to become U.S. web users' home on the web.

Time spent on Facebook soared to 27.6 billion minutes in December, up from 17.8 billion minutes in October, according to data from comScore. (In December 2008, it was just 9.3 billion minutes.)

Google, where users spent 36 billion minutes in December, managed consistent slow growth in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, online rivals like Yahoo, Microsoft, and MySpace are all down.

It's especially ugly for Yahoo.

chart of the day, minutes spent on leading websites per month, 
2009 data
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BusinessWeek Logo FRIDAY. Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Your birthday may affect your odds of becoming a professional athlete, a new study suggests.

An Australian researcher analyzed the birthdays of Australian Football League (AFL) players and found that many were born in the early months of the year, while far fewer were born in the later months.

The Australian school year begins in January, noted Dr. Adrian Barnett, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology.

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Silicon Valley celebrates its successes, but the failure rate is generally much, much higher. But what makes the Valley different than other entrepreneur-rich areas is how it deals with those failures. Randy Komisar of Kleiner Perkins, in this entrepreneur though leader lecture given at Stanford University, says that only a company that can deal with failure and still make money has any chance of succeeding. The talk’s an old one – from 2004 – but the themes still resonate today.

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In Part 1 of the interview, Rob Delman, managing director of Golden Seeds New York, told us the benefits of investing in women-led ventures, shared his lessons learned and pointed out a critical term in a term sheet that many might have overlooked. Today, Delman the “Golden Dude” talks more about due diligence, an area many beginning angels are puzzled about.

Delman was the president of Delco International Ltd., a US$76 million manufacturing and distribution company of tableware products for the food service and transportation industries. In 2000, Delman sold the company to Oneida Ltd., the world’s largest producer of tableware products. Since then, he’s become an active angel investor investing in high-potential companies.

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Nokia has announced $ 1 million venture challenge to encourage innovators to create a mobile product or service that raises the standard of living or enhances the lives of those in growth economies, says a press release.

Announcing the Growth Economy Venture Challenge, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo called on innovators across the globe to become a part of a revolution by bringing mobile solutions to the parts of the world that can benefit most.

The Challenge will consider any submission that enhances the target growth economy and also provides a potential return on the investment.

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The policies coming out of Washington are changing faster than we have time to digest them.

President Obama proposes to allocate $30 billion of unspent stimulus money to support lending to small businesses. This is a nice gesture, but small business needs equity, too.

And although small businesses certainly need access to credit, borrowing is not a good way to start a business from scratch.

Obama also proposed eliminating capital gains tax on the sale of small businesses. This also is good, but many small businesses won’t be for sale anytime soon, so it’s a moot point.

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SSTI:  Budget OverviewAs in any budget there are winners and losers, but for the tech-based economic development community, there are far more winners than losers in the Obama Administration's FY11 budget proposal. Percentages referenced in this summary reflect the change from FY10 appropriations.

Among the winners:

  • * The National Science Foundation, NIST laboratories, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science continue on the path to doubling their budgets.
  • * The Administration tries to move regional innovation and clusters forward with proposals in a number of agencies, including:
  • $75 million in the Economic Development Administration in the Department of Commerce for regional planning and matching grants within EDA to support the creation of Regional Innovation Clusters
  • $135 million in budget authority at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a Regional Innovation Initiative for rural communities which could translate to $280 million in program activities
    $108 million at the Department of Labor for the proposed Workforce Innovation Fund that would provide funding for the demonstration of promising new ideas and for the replication of proven practices
    $11 million at the Small Business Administration to support enhanced small business participation in regional economic clusters by awarding competitive grants to facilitate greater coordination of resources
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