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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.

Joshua KushnerOne of New York's newest and most active startup investors is barely old enough to rent a car. But Joshua Kushner, founder of Thrive Capital, is also no typical 25-year-old.

There's obviously the family connections: His dad is real estate mogul Charles Kushner, and his brother Jared owns the New York Observer and is married to Ivanka Trump.

But young Joshua is also already somewhat of a veteran Internet entrepreneur.

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If California wants to get its innovation game back, says venture capitalist Tom Baruch, it should look at Michigan.

That wasn't a misprint — much-maligned, Rust Belt-tagged Michigan.

We’re talking about my ancestral homeland here. I grew up in the southwest part of the state, where the recession and oil embargo of the 1970s drove unemployment in my little town above 40 percent.

I lived in funny-named places like Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti — both home to state universities and large auto plants — owned a home in one of the state’s innovation hubs, Ann Arbor, and worked in Oakland County, the biggest beneficiary of Detroit’s decline.

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You’re busy. I’m busy. As small business owners, we’re all busy and we’re all looking for ways to get more done in less time. And that means doing everything we can to increase our productivity. Below are six ways that I’ve been able to be more productive. I’d love if you could share your own tips.

1. Use the right tools.

One way small business owners kill their productivity is by using the wrong tool for the job. They keep using their pen and notebook when they should be using a tool like Evernote to trap and record their ideas. They waste time manually entering receipts into QuickBooks instead of using something like Shoeboxed that can quickly handle their accounting for them. As a small business owner, it’s worth it to spend some time finding the tools that you need to better run your business. Don’t try to hack a tool to do something it’s not supposed to do. We live in an economy where it’s pretty easy to find free, online productivity tools. Don’t be afraid to use them.

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When TechCrunch editor Mike Arrington barged in on a secret meeting of super angels, the wealthy individuals who are taking an increasingly prominent role in startup investing, the facts were open to interpretation. Arrington alleged that he heard the meeting was about illegal collusion. That seemed so unlikely. But now an email sent by investor Ron Conway (right) shows that there is a real fracture in the angel group about whether there was an attempt at collusion, as Arrington alleged.

Two days ago, Arrington wrote a post where he alleged that the secret meeting that he crashed was in fact an attempt by a group of super angels, or well-heeled investors with their own funds, to illegally collude by agreeing to hold down startup valuations. At the time, it seemed pretty implausible that such a well-known group of smart people would try to get away with such a hare-brained scheme. (After all, these angels don’t control a significant percentage of the angel money being invested in companies).

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If you've been feeling that our country isn't as hot a place for entrepreneurs as it once was, it's not your imagination. A new study from the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy shows the U.S. has sunk to third place when it comes to fostering entrepreneurial creativity. Researchers for the SBA took a look at the Global Enterpreneurship and Development Index, which looks at more than a dozen primary attributes for supporting entrepreneurial effort. The upshot: The U.S. now ranks third behind Denmark and -- brace yourself! -- Canada.

Where are we going wrong? The study found America strong in competitiveness, startup skills, and new technology, but we fall short in cultural support for entrepreneurs, our tech sector is weakening compared with other countries' tech effort, and as a result we have fewer high-growth businesses. Reasons we are weak in these areas include fallout from the dot-com bubble of the early '00s, the recession, and simply the comparatively better progress made by other countries.

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Welcome to the entrepreneurial economy: small firms are playing an ever-increasing role in innovation, driven by changes in technologies and markets.Whilst some spin-offs and high growth firms are having remarkable success, however, the broad bulk of small firms are not capitalising on their advantages.

This book explores how government policy can boost innovation by improving the environment for entrepreneurship and small firm development and increasing the innovative capacities of enterprises. Policy findings and recommendations are presented in three key areas: embedding firms in knowledge flows; developing entrepreneurship skills; and social entrepreneurship. In addition, country notes present statistics and policy data on SMEs, entrepreneurship and innovation for 40 economies, including OECD countries, Brazil, China, Estonia, Indonesia, Israel, the Russian Federation, Slovenia and South Africa.

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Assured LaborThe MIT offspring, Assured Labor, connects job-seekers with employers via mobile SMS.

Assured Labor's Founder and CEO, David Reich, thought up his idea for a mobile, text-message-based employment service for low-income individuals while a graduate student at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He got together with fellow students at MIT and Harvard and together they hashed out a plan to launch in Boston, then slowly take over the world. With co-founders from around the U.S. and around the globe, the team launched in Mexico this week. From Mexico City, Reich told Fast Company how the latest launch is going.


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3m.top.jpgFORTUNE -- 3M is everywhere. That's the point George Buckley, the chairman and CEO of 3M, is trying to make as he talks about his favorite subject, inventing things. Last year, he says, "even in the worst economic times in memory, we released over 1,000 new products."

As if on cue, Buckley's new iPhone rings, showing a photo of his daughter. "Daddy's in a meeting," he says, and hangs up.

"I'm told there's some 3M inside that phone," I say. Buckley replies, "There's lots of 3M inside." He can't say exactly what 3M (MMM, Fortune 500) gadget is in the iPhone; Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) skittish about such things. But point well made: 3M is everywhere.


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In my last post, I promised a look at why the term “graduated” makes little sense to me in the context of the National Science Foundation’s centers programs. I can adduce some theoretical arguments for my position, and I’ve also assembled a quick-and-dirty table (after the break) summarizing what I could find via superficial Web searching about the current status of centers that NSF regards as “graduated” from the ERC, I/U CRC, and MRSEC programs.

This empirical exploration revealed a bit more evidence for sustainability than I’d suspected, but on the whole I think it’s still unduly optimistic to believe that once federal funding stops, a university-based center will necessarily retain the essential characteristics of what was originally envisioned. That’s not to say the funding has been a failure, only that expectations for sustainability may be unduly high, or perhaps irrelevant.

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I believe rural communities need to strengthen their brand as a part of their economic and community development plans. Too often people see rural communities as places of the past rather than of the future. We need to change that.

So when I stumbled across an opinion piece offering a contrarian view, I thought I’d encounter arguments I disagree with. I was right and wrong.

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