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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.

Reports about the melting ice caps are distressing, but for the most part climate change remains abstract. The poor polar bear has been trotted out as the tangible face of global warming so often that we're beginning to see "polar bear fatigue." How about bringing the effects of Arctic melt close to home, as in what it will cost? A new study does just that, and the results are alarming, not just for Arctic dwellers but for all of us. According to lead author Eban Goodstein, Ph.D., over the next 40 years Arctic ice melt will take an economic toll of between $2.4 trillion and $24 trillion. Unless we change course — and fast.

Why is the melting Arctic so expensive? "The Arctic acts as the planet's air conditioner, and that function is already breaking down," says Goodstein, an economist and Director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy. The high price reflects anticipated losses in agriculture and real estate plus the cost of disease outbreaks and natural disasters associated with rising sea levels. The melt, he says, is already adding extra heat at an annual rate of 3 billion tons of CO2 — the equivalent of 500 coal-powered plants, or more than 40% of all U.S. fossil fuel emissions — and this is expected to more than double by the end of the century.

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CatcherThis is part of my [Mark Suster] ongoing series on Understanding Venture Capital.

I recently wrote a blog post on understanding how the size and age of a venture capital fund might affect you when you’re raising money.  Because it is a “series” I plan to get into some of the deeper complexities of funds such as “cross over funds” and “why VC’s hate to price their own deals” at a later stage. The last post was a high-level primer.  I know many super experienced entrepreneurs who don’t understand the basics of how fund size and age can affect them so I thought it was worth establishing a baseline.

Chris Dixon provided some commentary on Twitter that he believes my last post missed “the most important point about fund size.”  He’s specifically referring to his point of view that entrepreneurs shouldn’t take seed money from “big VC’s” (he defines them as > $100 million).  It actually wasn’t the point of my post – my point was just to get people thinking about the issues of size and age in the first place.

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Business angel Stefan GlaenzerStefan is London-based entrepreneur and angel investor from Germany. He is the co-founder of companions.de, companionsTV, ricardo.de and myblog.de. He is also the founding investor and executive Chairman of Mendeley.com and RjDj.me and has been in the same role at Last.fm.

After deciding to invest ‘a few hundred thousand’ in Last.fm this turned into a £22 million profit following its sale to CBS in 2007.  Stefan is a firm believer in European entrepreneurship and remains an active business angel. Outside of his business interests he holds a PhD in foreign exchange risk management and was a professional DJ for 15 years.

How long have you been a business angel?
My first experience as an angel investor was from 2000-2004. In 2005 I stopped investing to focus the vast majority of my time to helping build Last.fm. When we sold it in 2007, I became a full time angel again.

What attracted you towards becoming an angel investor?
It’s a function of age I’m afraid – pretty much the same reason why a football player evolves into a manager position. I love working on innovative ideas, and being an angel gives you more of an portfolio approach instead of putting all your eggs in one basket.

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Lately, I’ve [author] been digging through data and interviews related to the book on Gender and Innovation that I’m working on with Jacqueline Byrd.  The bulk of the data comes from 10,000+ respondents to Creatrix, an instrument created by Jacqueline.  As for interviews,  so far we’ve completed 20 (12 women and 8 men).  As unique and amazing as each story is, certain themes come up repeatedly from both male and female innovators.

One of those is their lack of seeing things that don’t work as failure.  Mind you, they easily talk about things that go wrong.   But while many people talk about learning from failure, they still experience failure as- well, failure.  Not so the innovators.  We hear it in their voices;  they absolutely believe that something that doesn’t work is just part of the process moving them forward to success.   It’s just one more experiment from which they can learn.  It has no more emotional impact than that.

That’s probably why they are able to take risks.  What others perceive as risks, they see as opportunities to learn.  Willingness to put oneself on the line is part of innovation.  It’s the difference between having a great idea and an innovation.  (Thousands of patents are issued every year that are never used,  inventions gathering dust because there’s been no personal and/or financial risk taken to act on them.)  Innovators rush in where fools fear to tread.  One of my favorite stories was told by Chuck House, author of the recently published HP Phenomenon.

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http://www.kineticmuscles.com TEMPE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Kinetic Muscles Inc. (“KMI”, www.kineticmuscles.com), a leading innovator of neurorehabilitation technology, announced it has received a 2-year Phase II SBIR grant to study a new treatment for veterans returning from active duty with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Promising results from a Phase I study which combined neuropsychological therapy and digital gaming technology led the DoD to fund this Phase II study that will validate effectiveness of the therapy system through clinical testing in VA hospitals.

KMI will collaborate with Emory University, Division of Neuropsychology (Atlanta, GA), the DoD, the VA, and the University of Advancing Technology (Tempe, AZ) which is recognized as one of the foremost ‘gaming’ schools in the nation.

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BusinessWeek Logo What are the signs that innovation in a company is set up to fail? Wouldn't it be great to have a checklist on this? Unfortunately, innovation is too complicated and company-specific for one standard rule.

It is possible, however, to become better at spotting the signs of failure.

Here's a list (in no particular order) of the red flags I look for when I talk with executives and innovation leaders trying to get an understanding of their corporate innovation capabilities.

• The lack of an innovation strategy

Executives and innovation leaders have failed to link innovation with overall corporate strategy. As a result, the innovation efforts have no clear direction, and there is not the necessary mix of incremental and radical innovation. No strategy, no focused effort, no results.

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Taipei, April 5 (CNA) Private activist groups that have been pressing for a boycott of the passage of an industrial innovation bill urged the legislature Monday to put the brakes on its passage and review it again "before it is too late." Ruling Kuomintang (KMT) legislators were scheduled to meet their counterparts from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) the following day for negotiations over the bill, which failed to clear the legislative floor in late March due to a filibuster by DPP lawmakers.

Wang Jung-chang, convener of the Fairtax Alliance, said the bill, which continues and expands concessionary tax rates for major industrial investors, is full of injustice and partiality.

"The bill is not only unfair to smaller business and industrial operators, i

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People skeptical of hearing water experts talking about water crises put their faith in the human capacity to innovate. They point to the rapid decline in costs of taking the salt out of sea water as evidence that – when we really have to – we will innovate and make sure we can meet our water needs.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Israel, one of the driest countries in the world, has invested heavily in non-conventional sources of water. Desalination currently provides around 40 percent of Israel’s municipal water supply and the plan is for this source to provide 70 percent by 2015. In March, a team from the the World Bank's WDR2010 and Middle East North Africa units visited the largest operational reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world, in Hadera.

Twenty minutes ago this water was sea water! from World Bank on Vimeo.



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InformationWeekReviewers have weighed in on the iPad. The consensus verdict is that Apple's tablet-style computing device is a stylish, versatile tool for e-reading, media viewing, and communicating—but it falls short as a full-on laptop or netbook replacement.

Veteran Wall Street Journal tech critic Walter Mossberg has been testing the iPad for the past week. The device has "the potential to change portable computing profoundly," Mossberg wrote, in a column published Thursday.

"If you're mainly a Web surfer, note taker, social networker and emailer, and a consumer of photos, videos, books, periodicals and music—this could be for you," wrote Mossberg.

"If you need to create or edit giant spreadsheets or long documents, or you have elaborate systems for organizing email, or need to perform video chats, the iPad isn't going to cut it as your go-to device," said Mossberg.



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The Islamic & Middle Eastern VC Market Despite the fact that there are literally millions of Muslim entrepreneurs in both developed and developing nations looking for investment capital for their new start-up ventures, the realm of the Islamic venture capitalist remains in an evolutionary state. Nonetheless, the untapped potential for Islamic venture capital remains huge. Moreover, the Islamic world has more than its fair share of investors with high-end net worth looking to invest in potentially lucrative deals. Thus, the convergence of both a ‘need’ and a ’supply’ invariably lead to the creation of a new product, and this is equally so in the case of purely Islamic venture capital.

The core to any proposed Islamic financing transaction is that Shariah (Islamic law) prohibits interest-based lending. Moreover, Shariah further prohibits investments in certain activities which are seen as being in violation of Islam, such as gambling.

However, in essence, the mechanisms of venture capital do not provide for interest-bearing lending. Rather, at the core of any venture capital funding is an agreement to share in the risks of the business venture in return for the profits derived from such business venture.

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Attention non-profit and public sector organizations – a few weeks ago, InnoCentive announced a program just for you.  We’ve had some good response to this program so far, but we think there are more organizations in need that haven’t heard about it yet, and our goal is to help as many people as possible.  So here it is again – please spread the word.

Throughout 2010, InnoCentive will waive its typical fee for posting and managing a single Challenge for selected non-profit and public sector organizations.

Participating organizations have the same access as our corporate Seekers to InnoCentive’s expert services and diverse international network of 200,000+ Solvers – scientists, inventors, engineers, researchers, and innovators from all walks of life – who can help you solve key challenges facing your organization and your community.

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By: Fred Patterson – The SBIR Coach® (www.SBIRcoach.com)

The Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) got a small boost last week with the long-promised raising of the grant program’s funding caps by the SBA.  First proposed back in 2008, and supported by everyone associated with the program, the action has been held up with the anticipation of enactment of a comprehensive SBIR reauthorization bill.  With passage of that legislation stalled by a refusal of the House Small Business Committee to negotiate with the Senate, the SBA evidently decided not to wait any longer, asserted some long awaited leadership, and took independent action. 

[Effective March 30th, SBIR Phase I award amounts may be as much as $150K (up 50%), Phase IIs as much as $1M (up 33%).  STTR awards stay the same for now.  They’re covered by a different law, but changes are expected there soon as well.]

These increases, while a welcome boost to the small businesses who apply for these seed funds, don’t solve the biggest problem faced by SBIR funded companies – how to get their innovative technology transitioned into end use – aka commercialization, the mythical and elusive Phase III. 

The original intent of SBIR was that the government would provide the seed funding for development of dual-use potential technology to a working prototype (proof of concept) and the private sector would then take over the funding and help take the resulting products to eagerly awaiting markets.  It hasn’t worked quite as anticipated.

Rarely can a company take the work product coming off a Phase II and effect a quick transition to end use.  At that point they enter what’s known as the Valley of Death.  Whether it’s additional technical development work, system integration, packaging, supply chain building, configuration for manufacturing, or marketing and sales channel development, there’s money needed for getting from a prototype to a product that is market-ready.  Lots of money. 

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