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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.

We are here live from the 2010 Front End of Innovation Europe, making final preparations for the opening of this year's conference. As readers of this blog we offer you an opportunity to share in some of the great presentations and information from the conference. This year to help you stay informed and in the loop of everything that is happening here at FEI as it is taking place, we have several tools in place like live blog posts, twitter updates, photos from Flickr, daily emails, and discussions in our LinkedIn and Facebook fan page that we will continue to post throughout the event. Don't forget, if you're attending the conference and twittering, use #FEIEurope in your tweets to share in the conversation.

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The Delaware Valley Innovation Network (DVIN) was formed to apply for a Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant from the United States Department of Labor. In 2007, DVIN received a $5.1 million grant to support worker training and talent development within the life sciences and its supporting industries. Of the 39 WIRED initiatives established across the United States, DVIN was the only tri-state WIRED project and was endorsed by Governors RuthAnn Minner (DE), James McGreevey (NJ) and Edward Rendell (PA). DVIN was a regional collaborative partnership amongst government, academia, industry, and economic and workforce development organizations that served 14-counties within three states including New Castle county in Delaware; Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem counties in New Jersey; and Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania. The DVIN project was governed by a dedicated Executive Committee who ensured that the initiatives showcased in this report were innovative, industry driven and regional in scope. Although this was only a three year grant, the social and human capital impact will be felt for many years to come.

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♦   A $700 million renewal of Ohio Third Frontier — the 10-year, $1.6 billion project to re-energize Ohio’s economy by investing in emerging technologies — is on its way to the May 4 ballot, thanks to bipartisan support of a compromise resolution by state Senate and House members this week. Third Frontier stakeholders celebrated the passage of the ballot initiative, which not only would renew funding for the project, but raise its annual grant-making ability to $175 million from about $160 million a year. In addition, the bond funding would not be subject to state budgetary issues, as is two-thirds of Third Frontier’s current budget.
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MIAMI — There's Peyton, then there's Payton, and in that order.

Peyton Manning is the marquee name in this Super Bowl. Sean Payton is the other Payton, the one getting second-billing behind the Indianapolis Colts' star quarterback and pitchman extraordinaire.

Yet the New Orleans Saints' head coach is making his own mark with creative, aggressive play-calling that has produced the NFL's top offence two straight seasons and three of the past four.

"He has an incredible knack for finding weaknesses and setting plays up and then taking advantage of opportunities that the defence presents. He's a very aggressive play caller," Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said. "What I mean by aggressive is he's just not one of those guys that is just going to settle for five-and six-yard passes. He's going to throw that thing deep on you often and early, so you have to be ready."

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pluGGd.inOne of the biggest challenges that startups face is undoubtedly – exposure. As a startup, you may offer great products and services but, unless people are aware of your offerings, it’s hard to gain any amount of business. Building a well rounded online identity can take your business to great lengths.

While most Indian startups (even corporations for that matter) offer great products and services, their online identities are downright dull when compared to the west. In this post, I’ll guide you through some tools that you might want to consider using to gain exposure on the web.

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PishevarHe's not giving up his day job, but entrepreneur and investor Shervin Pishevar is getting props for a rap homage to Silicon Valley he penned.

"Platform" was inspired by and samples from rapper Jay Z's "A Star is Born." Instead of “clap for 'em,” Pishevar substituted the word “platform.”

Pishevar, founder of Social Gaming Network, put the video together with the help of GreetBeatz -- a startup that creates songs for customers with professional rappers. The video features cameos from some of Silicon Valley's brightest young entrepreneurs including Causes' Joe Green, Blippy's Philip Kaplan and Flixster's Joe Greenstein. It also tells some of the stories that have become Silicon Valley lore, such as the genesis of Facebook.

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It’s a good time to be an angel. With venture capital in the dumps, Bay Area angel investing groups say the quantity and quality of potential deals coming through the door is up as entrepreneurs are forced to look for alternatives.

“We’re getting some very interesting deal flow that would have gone to traditional venture capitalists in the past,” said Randy Williams, founder and CEO of the Keiretsu Forum, which has 350 members in Northern California. “What’s happening is the venture capitalists are focused on existing companies and the limited partners are not giving them additional capital.”

Ian Sobieski, a founder and managing director of Menlo Park-based Band of Angels Fund LP, which has 125 members, sees a similar trend.

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finney.jpgEconomic development organization Ann Arbor SPARK said today that it had helped 33 companies announce expansions in 2009 with plans to hire 2,118 workers.

SPARK released a report saying that its business support efforts had helped secure $147 million in investment for the region.

Among the highlights were California information technology startup Systems In Motion, which plans to hire more than 1,000 workers for an IT operation in Pittsfield Township, and engineering firm AVL Powertrain, which plans to hire 40 workers for an alternative propulsion technology operation.

SPARK is a public-private nonprofit partnership formed in 2005 by a coalition of universities, business leaders and political officials. The organization helps companies get business resources, connect with talent, find funding and secure state support.

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As a critical source of competitive advantage, innovation certainly deserves the attention it receives. But innovation is also notoriously difficult to manage. And while recognized innovators are widely admired for their achievements, every business leader knows that the pursuit of innovation is exceptionally challenging even as it is entirely necessary.

The roots of the problem lie in the fact that innovation takes place at the crossroads of two critical uncertainties: uncertainty about the future, and uncertainty about what will be best for our organization.

Given these issues, executives face two key questions:

  • First, What innovations should our organization be pursuing?
  • And second, How should we create them?
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altGrabbing a notebook and pen from my bag in the back seat, I asked Esi, the program manager and driver today, to please brief me on the clients from TechnoServe's cotton program she and I were en route to visit. The Mpaka workshop, she told me, is one of the twelve workshops that TechnoServe has nationwide to train farmers on best practice methods of cotton production.

These nationwide workshops are a key part of the program strategy to revive Swaziland's cotton industry. They provide TechnoServe advisors an opportunity to improve the capacity of farmers to succeed in growing cotton by focusing on reducing their cost of production and increasing yields per hectare, two factors over which farmers have relative control.

The goal for the Mpaka workshop was to teach farmers the basics of effective pest control to ensure that farmers were both purchasing the right pesticides to control the pests in their fields and applying pesticides in the most educated and efficient way. By focusing on this topic today, at this stage of the crop's lifecycle, TechnoServe advisors can help farmers control a factor that can improve yields and income by as much as 50%.

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The ACCC Applied Research Symposium convened in Ottawa these past two days, offering an opportunity for college researchers and administrators to discuss the maturing of the applied research sector. Highlights included talks by the presidents of SSHRC and NSERC, and VPs from CIHR and CFI. The message common to all three was the need to involve end users or end points in research. That is, research should be applied and involve those who will use the results at the outset, as well as be concerned with the downstream effects or implications. Applied research, according to the Frascati Manual, includes original investigation, but is focused on solving problems. This is the design behind setting national research priorities. Fostering a national research agenda that articulates complementary organizations into a network value chain will help us increase social and economic productivity by more effectively translating the investments we make in R&D in meaningful outcomes where this is applicable. This is especially important given that the Conference Board of Canada has once again given Canada's innovation capacity a "D" grade, saying "The Canadian economy remains a below-average performer on its capacity to innovate."

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