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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.

One of the biggest obstacles to discussing the concept of innovation is the perception that innovation can only involve unique ideas. Ask someone you define what innovation is, and they'll usually give you an explanation that indicates you have to have a mixture between Edison and Einstein to be considered innovative.

Gladwell on Innovation and Plagiarism: Smells Like Teen Spirit To Me...Of course, that's crap. Some of the best innovators around take the ideas of others and make them better or simply more marketable than others. The ability to tweak a product or service and make it more palatable to the masses is a keyNirvana skill in the world of innovation.

Malcolm Gladwell knows this, and after thinking about it, isn't even convinced that plagiarism, long thought to be a crime of ethics, is a crime at all because there aren't many original ideas left these days.  From What the Dog Saw, Gladwell's latest book that is a compilation of his columns from the New Yorker, specifically a passage where he's talking about the feeling that his work had been stolen for a Broadway play:

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SBA Out of Funds to Facilitate Favorable Small Business LoansFunding ran out on Friday for a Small Business Administration program that increased loan guarantees and reduced or eliminated loan fees for its two largest small-business recovery lending programs -- a week or so earlier than had been expected. The most recent influx of funds for the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act program, $125 million, had been expected to last through February.

This doesn't mean that loans will cease to be available to small businesses, but for now, those that need money will have to accept the relatively less-favorable terms of traditional SBA loans.

The loan guarantees and the reduced fees had a significant impact: By guaranteeing 90% of the loan (rather than the usual 75%), the SBA reduced lenders' risks, making them more willing to lend money at more favorable rates and on less strict terms;
by covering part or all of the fees, the program made loans more affordable for borrowers. Under the Recovery Act terms, a small business could have saved up to $40,000 on a $2 million loan. That savings could be enough to hire an additional employee -- just the sort of thing the country needs right now.

Read more ... It's official. Where innovation is concerned, New Zealand has been asleep at the wheel since 2000.

The rate of innovation in New Zealand not only flatlined for the first seven years of the 21st century but dipped sharply in 2008, according to the Innovation Index of New Zealand, launched by IBM and the University of Auckland.

The index looks at innovation across the New Zealand economy from 1998, focusing on 16 industry sectors including commercial and non-commercial organisations.

The methodology measured seven components of innovation - patents, R&D, trademarks, design, plant variety rights, productivity and organizational and managerial innovation.

The only sector to show strong growth was the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector where innovation activity more than doubled between 1998 and 2008.

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Rich Bendis President, Innovation America will speak TODAY about how innovation will change small business.

Editor's Note: This is to be a live blog radio show to air at 1:00PM on Feb 24, 2010  Click the link below for more details.

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AURP: The Power of Place 2.0: The Power of InnovationThe United States is home to the world’s first research park, launched in 1951 at Stanford University. In the sixty years since, another 170 university-related research parks have sprung up across the country, promoting innovation, incubating technology, and stimulating economic growth. Today, however, the United States has lost its lead. China, India, and Korea are home to the world’s largest research parks, developed by their national governments, attracting global research and development companies from afar to their shores.

In 1981, Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act, giving universities the lead role in transferring technology into the private sector from federally supported research. Such research contributes anywhere from $47 billion to $187 bil- lion annually to our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Other countries have copied the U.S. university commercialization model, with the result, for example, that universities in the United Kingdom now have a better record than U.S. universities in technology commercialization.

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Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, and a group of about 20 venture capital firms will invest more than $3 billion in U.S. technology companies over the next two years, two people familiar with the matter said.

Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini will make the announcement during a speech today in Washington, the people said. They declined to be identified because the plan has not yet been made public. Nick Jacobs, a Singapore-based spokesman for Intel, declined to comment.

The chipmaker has an investment arm, Intel Capital, which takes stakes in companies that have technology that can be used to increase future processor sales. U.S. semiconductor companies including Intel have lobbied the government to raise standards in math and science education, increase funding for research at universities and cut corporate taxes to promote domestic investment.

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Article ImageA few years ago, researchers at Cincinnati-based consumer goods multinational Procter & Gamble (P&G) made a breakthrough that could revolutionize how food is wrapped and stored. But there was one problem, as Chris Thoen, director of innovation and knowledge management at P&G, recounted during a recent conference at Wharton's Mack Center for Technological Innovation. Despite a portfolio of more than 300 products worth nearly $80 billion, P&G didn't have a strong presence on supermarket food-wrap shelves, and it would take millions of dollars of marketing, packaging and other costs to change that.

The good news was that one of the multinational's biggest rivals, The Clorox Company, did have that presence, thanks to Glad food wrap. So P&G approached Clorox with an offer to collaborate. Seven years later, Glad's Forceflex -- using P&G's technology, which embeds a kind of cement in small dimples in the cling film to increase its stickiness -- is a top-selling product and Glad is now a joint venture of the two companies, with P&G owning 20%.

"Glad had a great name in marketing and in manufacturing, and we brought a product technology in," said Thoen, describing just one of several approaches to collaboration that have had a dramatic impact on how the company has become more innovative over the past decade.

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kevin rose webstock digg wellingtonKevin Rose, Digg's founder, spoke this week at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand and covered 10 amazing tips for entrepreneurs. They were truly insightful
- and obviously came straight from the heart and soul of someone who worked a day job and built his dream after hours. This is our take of what he had to say.

1: Just Build It: You don't need anyone's approval and in fact, you probably won't get it, so don't even try.

2: Iterate: Build, release and iterate. Make a list of the features you want to create over the next six months and get going! For small companies, once a week; for larger companies, maybe twice a month.

3: Hire Your Boss: Make sure you hire people that you would want to work for, who challenge you and you can learn from.

4: Demand Excellence: Ensure staff are committed to and understand your vision. Passionate, committed staff have a tendency to rub off on people. There is nothing like a new junior developer who runs circles around everyone to get people hyped up and raise the bar! Stay involved in the hiring process as long as you possibly can.

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So you've got a great innovation on your hands--a new product or service that is going to change everything. Well, soon you'll face your first battle: How to explain the thing. If it's new, it's going to take some explaining, but long explanations make for lousy marketing. So how do you talk about your innovation without killing the excitement?

The first thing you've got to do is anchor in what people already know. So let's say I had to explain Netflix to somebody who'd never heard of it. Well, I could start by saying, Netflix is like Blockbuster. Now at least you're in the right mental space--okay, I get it, it's a movie rental business. But then I can add to it: Netflix is like Blockbuster--but it's by mail. Or it's Blockbuster with no late fees, or Blockbuster that actually has the movies you want in stock.

So Blockbuster is the "anchor" here--it gives you very quick intuition about what Netflix is. As another example, think about the first generation of cars--how are you going to explain a "car" to someone who's never seen one. Well, they were called "horseless carriages." "Carriage" is the anchor--people understood what that was.

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Show Don’t Tell – Especially In Video PitchesI’ve noticed a trend toward more video presentations lately. I looked at one this morning and it reminded me of the old writers adage “show don’t tell.” This applies nicely to every pitch you ever do. Specifically, I don’t want to hear you describe what you are going to do, I want to see it. Or – if it’s not built yet, see an example of it. It’s always better to point me at a URL, even if it’s a very rough prototype, as I can usually get a much quicker view of what you are doing by simply playing around.

Every day I get emails from folks either raising money or telling me about their new idea and asking for feedback.  The conventional wisdom is that VCs rarely invest in things that reach them randomly (or “over the transom” in someone’s VC vocabulary – I can’t for the life of me figure out why that phrase hangs around.)  However, this isn’t the case for us as 10% of the companies we’ve funded in the past two years were initially from “cold call” email inquiries (Brightleaf and Organic Motion).  So – I’m very happy to get a steady stream of random emails – keep them coming!

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Short answer: Because there isn’t enough innovation. Here’s what business and government can do about this.

2.8 million

That’s how many new jobs America’s most technologically-advanced industries were supposed to create between 1998 and 2008. Such ‘leading-edge’ industries as aerospace, telecom, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing were all going to add workers over the next ten years or so, according to November 1999 projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (see the full list below). Indeed, by my calculations, the 1999 BLS projections implied that employment in leading-edge industries would grow at a 3.4% annual clip, more than twice as fast as the rest of the private sector.

At the time, this forecast made perfect sense. Riding the New Economy boom, the U.S. had become the innovative icon for the rest of the world, the country that knew how to do it right. The global division of labor was clear: The U.S. would focus on breakthrough innovations and creating advanced goods and services, which would in turn create high-paying jobs. Meanwhile, production and routine innovation would be shifted to low-wage countries.

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