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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.

Ten Tips and Twenty Questions for Unleashing InnovationIf you search Amazon for “Innovation,” you’ll get over 39,000 book titles. I’ve read a tiny fraction of the total, but a much larger fraction of the true standouts. And I’ve written a couple books myself. Innovation is a huge topic, and you can slice and dice it in, well, tens of thousands of ways. Can such a large topic be boiled down to a few enduring principles and ten strategies in an 800-word column? Let’s try.

The challenge begins with the definition of innovation. Most of the definitions I’ve seen are overly complicated, scholarly descriptions full of qualifications, and generally serve to exclude the everyman from innovating. IMHO, the best definition of innovation on the planet is the one given by David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue: “Innovation is trying to figure out a way to do something better than it’s ever been done before.” That echoes Thomas Edison’s mantra of “There’s a way to do it better—find it.”

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Innovations targeting markets for industrial coatings, wireless communication, human resource management, equine distress notification (and prevention) and unmanned aircraft systems were approved in the first two submission rounds of USTAR Technology Commercialization Grants (TCG) at Utah State University.

Created in 2009, the grant program was designed to bring innovative new technologies to market from Utah’s public colleges and universities. To date nine submissions have been approved by the USTAR Governing Authority representing aggregate funding of $506,696. Faculty members are encouraged to apply for grants in the final remaining two submission rounds.

Detailed descriptions of the most recently approved projects (Round 2) can be found at

“We are very pleased with the caliber of proposals received during the early submission rounds,” said Ray DeVito, director of USU’s technology commercialization office. “The USTAR TCG program was designed to assist inventors and researchers in the final stages of idea implementation and drive the commercialization of technology forward.”

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IT looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Three years ago, Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, jogged onto a San Francisco stage to shake hands with Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, to help him unveil a transformational wonder gadget — the iPhone — before throngs of journalists and adoring fans at the annual MacWorld Expo.

Google and Apple had worked together to bring Google’s search and mapping services to the iPhone, the executives told the audience, and Mr. Schmidt joked that the collaboration was so close that the two men should simply merge their companies and call them “AppleGoo.”

“Steve, my congratulations to you,” Mr. Schmidt told his corporate ally. “This product is going to be hot.” Mr. Jobs acknowledged the compliment with an ear-to-ear smile.

Today, such warmth is in short supply. Mr. Jobs, Mr. Schmidt and their companies are now engaged in a gritty battle royale over the future and shape of mobile computing and cellphones, with implications that are reverberating across the digital landscape.

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steve jobs eric schmidt apple googleYesterday, Forbes released its annual roundup of the richest people on the planet.

As usual, there were plenty of people on the list who built their fortunes in the tech sector.

The big news, of course, was that Microsoft founder Bill Gates lost the top spot. But the number one spot didn't exactly go low-tech: the new richest man on earth is Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican telecomm barron.

In fact, there are so many wealthy tech execs and entrepreneurs that we felt the need to raise the bar a little higher than Forbes does. Making one measely billion dollars off of the Internet just isn't news anymore. Instead, we've compiled the multi-billionaires of tech.

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If you want to become an NFL football player, first you need to be an outstanding college player, usually from a major school. If you want to become a lawyer, first you need to have excellent undergraduate grades to be accepted into law school, survive school, then pass the “bar” exam. How about a doctor? Pre-med courses, med school, internships, etc.

Most careers with big risks and big financial, emotional or achievement-oriented rewards have a screening process, which identifies talent or predisposition for a given career path and also helps those participating in them learn about many aspects of the career before they make a commitment to it. Going through a screening process also ensures you are really, truly interested in that career path. Spending the time and putting forth the full effort that it takes to get through the entire screen helps you demonstrate to yourself that a particular path is something worth pursuing and that it is a good “fit” for you.

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When overseas EWB volunteer Andrew Young spoke with Baxter Sikwese of the Misuku Coffee Cooperative in Malawi to ask him about his views on fair trade, Baxter responded “I like fair trade because it supplies good prices as its name. It protects the environment. It reduces the corruption, as the products go straight to the consumers.”  Courtesy of Andrew youngEngineers are challenged by poor public perception. According to multiple surveys conducted by the American Society for Engineering Education, engineering falls far below professions in fields such as medicine and academics in terms of prestige. The common public understanding is that engineers simply build or fix things.

These viewpoints do not line up with the perception engineers have of themselves. In a recent survey of 190 first-year Engineering students at UBC conducted by the teaching assistants of Applied Science 150, 83 per cent of students considered engineering to be a “helping profession.” When ranking the role of engineering in society, 72 per cent of students polled chose “to address societal problems and needs” in the top three of six choices. “Getting drunk and throwing people in ponds” was not included as a choice in the survey.

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BoomStartup Brings TechStars-like Seed-Capital and Mentoring Program to UtahI’ve talked often about Utah’s tech scene.  While it doesn’t always get the publicity it deserves, there is an incredible booming tech scene happening here in the Salt Lake City area right now.  Just last Wednesday I attended a Launchup event, where about 100+ entrepreneurs, investors, and bloggers all conjoined in this monthly meeting to hear 3 other startups have their claim to fame.  Kynetx, Simler, and iActionable were all given advice and free help from those 100+ peers hoping for them to succeed.  With a very tight-knit environment, coworking spaces like BetaLoft and CoWork Utah, along with close proximity to the mountains, 15 minutes from great skiing, rock climbing, hiking and other outdoor activities, along with some of the hardest working people I’ve ever been around, it deserves more attention.  Along with all this,

BoomStartup, a new Mentoring and Seed-Capital program that hopes to mimic TechStars (out of Boulder, CO) announced it is taking applications for its Orem, Utah (just outside Salt Lake City) location. BoomStartup brings such mentors as Josh James, former CEO and John Pestana, his co-founder of Omniture, Inc., which just sold to Adobe. Joining them is former Novell Luminary, Ralph Yarro, former Cisco Executive Martin Frey, and former former HP Executive Warren Osborn. Also participating are Nobu Mutaguchi, one of Utah’s most prolific angel investors and Warren Osborn, an active venture and private equity investor.

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Louisiana is making some initial progress towards an economy diversified beyond traditional sectors, but there is much more work to accomplish. Other states, at the same time, are not standing still. States with a strategic focus on innovation as a basis for economic development are at a competitive advantage for ensuring faster employment growth than states based heavily on mature, slower growth industries.

Louisiana must recognize creative ideas implemented in practical ways that generate wealth will fuel an innovation-based economy. A statewide strategic focus towards generating these types of creative ideas will require bold shifts in support for research and development across academia and the private sector.

A general recommendation is that universities and state government must recognize that the innovation process from basic idea to commercialization success is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. In order to expect the rewards and gains promised by a healthy innovation-based economy, public entities must assume the risks and be tolerant for failures. This requires evaluating innovation successes based on magnitude rather than frequency. As an illustration, consider that Babe Ruth is ranked in the top 100 for both home runs (714) and strike outs (1,330). These recommendations are oriented towards constructing an innovation ecosystem that offers the best chances at hitting innovation homeruns, but the state should recognize and anticipate strikeouts, too.

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With venture backers still reluctant, it could be a rough-and-tumble year for clean techIn an old Polaroid film production plant in New Bedford, Konarka Technologies Inc. is now making a thin, flexible plastic material that generates electricity from the sun. In an East Cambridge lab, researchers at the stealthy start-up C12 Energy Inc. are trying to develop effective ways to inexpensively trap carbon dioxide so it isn’t absorbed into the atmosphere. Joule Biotechnologies, another Cambridge company, is setting up a pilot facility in Texas that will use genetically engineered organisms to produce ethanol or synthetic diesel fuel.

Entrepreneurs and scientists around Massachusetts are imagining an energy future that is radically different from our energy present. They see solar panels plastered atop everything, vehicles powered by cheap hydrogen, and cleaner ways to extract energy from notoriously noxious fuels like coal.

In most of the country, 2009 was not a good year to raise money for an energy-related start-up: Venture capital funding fell 42 percent, compared with 2008. But Massachusetts actually saw a 21 percent year-over-year increase in so-called clean-tech funding. Companies here banked $356 million, a sum that was skewed significantly by a single $100 million infusion of funding for A123 Systems Inc., a Watertown maker of batteries for power tools and electric cars that went public last September.

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Society of Manufacturing Engineers - Eight game-changing innovations are about to enhance production on the factory floor. Outlined in the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) annual Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture, these innovations could help manufacturers save 80 percent of the cost of RFID tags, reduce the costs of producing nano fibers or even change the way electronics are designed. SME’s Innovation Watch Committee compiled the list and its members serve as “innovation researchers” who seek and publish information about

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Why is it that you have more potential to make money as an entrepreneur or small business owner than you do working for the man? Here are my top 5 reasons.

1. You Obtain All Money from a Project

Chris Hanks, faculty member of The Entrepreneur School, often cites the stat that says you must generate 3 times as much money as you make at a company. If your salary is $100k a year, you must be bringing in $300k of business. This pays for your health insurance, supplies, and profit for the company. But in working for yourself, if you generate $300k of business, you keep $300k. Granted you will have marketing costs, supplies, and other overhead, but you keep more of the money earned as an entrepreneur.

2. You Control Your Workload

When I worked for a company, I had a set list of tasks to perform in any given week. If I did those tasks in 2 days, I would make the same amount of money I did if I stretched those tasks out over 5 days. But if I am working for myself, if I complete my tasks in 2 days, I get paid for those tasks and can focus on new business for the other 3 days. Additionally, I can work extra hours and make more money bringing in new business.

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Open100 - Open business competition by Openbusiness.ccFor anyone who has ever had an inkling of interest in what this site covers, you should go to the Open100 competition. There is running a competition to find the top 100 best open innovators in the world, highlighting achievements in open innovation, crowdsourcing, co-creation, open source software, and open business. If you know of any companies that should be included, head over to nominate them before March 19th.

There are a ton of great examples of what is going on in this space, so I hope they leave the complete list of nominations up after the competition is completed on April 8th.

Thanks to a previous commenter, Daniel, for pointing me in the direction of IndieGoGo, a crowdfunding platform for filmmakers. I just nominated IndieGoGo along with Kickstarter (which was inexplicably missing from the Open100 list). Looking forward to the results.

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