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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.

terrafug.Is Ohio the next destination for flying car company Terrafugia?Ohio's license plates boast that the mid-western state is the "birthplace of aviation pioneers," including the Wright Brothers and John Glenn.

It could also soon be the new home of two would-be aviation pioneers: Carl and Anna Dietrich, who are trying to bring to market the first successful flying car (or, if you prefer, roadable aircraft), the Terrafugia Transition. The Dietrichs, both MIT alums, currently run Terrafugia out of some warehouse space in Woburn. The slick-looking Transition vehicle, which can either be flown or driven at highway speeds, made its first flight last March. (I initially wrote about Terrafugia in the Globe in 2008, and again here late last year.)

Carl Dietrich called yesterday to tell me that he was "very close" to signing a term sheet with a group of private investors in Ohio that would force Terrafugia to relocate there. Dietrich says the company is hoping to raise $4 million to build its next prototype vehicle, which it hopes to unveil at a major airshow this summer, and then go into production.
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While cloud computing and cloud hosting practices seem like the hot new thing, they’ve actually been around for some time. And while many entrepreneurs are falling over themselves to jump on the cloud trend, the definition and clear-cut use case for cloud hosting remains elusive.

Sure, the promise of cost savings, “fair” usage-based billing and unlimited scalability are appealing, but before you make the jump, a background check is in order.

Many companies (large and small) have come before you, and today’s startups have many resources and case studies to help answer the question: “Is cloud hosting the right solution for my business?”

We’ve pulled together a list of pros and cons to help you decide:

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Electronics innovation was key to China's 30% surge in international patent applications last year.Eliza Snow/iStockphotoInternational patent applications in 2009 dropped for the first time on the back of a double-digit fall in US applications - but China, with a 30% surge, claimed a bigger piece of the shrunken pie. Yet observers say the quality of Chinese applications has not kept pace with their volume, and the country still has far to go before it can establish itself as a dominant player in intellectual property.

Applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international pact signed into law in 1970, fell by 4.5% in 2009. Declines were spread across most of the Western world: application numbers for the United States, Germany, Canada and Sweden all fell by more than 11%.

Francis Gurry, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which publishes the PCT patents, told a press conference on 8 February that the dip was not surprising given the economic conditions. But Gurry called China's 29.7% increase "extraordinary"; it propelled the country ahead of France and into fifth place overall. Although the United States still holds the top spot with 45,790 applications, increases for China, second-ranked Japan and fourth-ranked South Korea indicate a shift towards Asia (see chart). "This confirms a trend we have seen over the last five years in particular, but it continues despite the economic crisis," says Gurry.

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Silicon Valley future as innovation hub at risk: report Silicon may represent one of Earth's more common elements, but it transformed Silicon Valley into a high-tech corridor and helped usher the world into the Information Age.

Now rare earth elements with exotic names such as europium and tantalum hold the key to hybrid cars, wind turbines and crystal-clear TV displays - that is, if a looming supply shortage doesn't stop innovation in its tracks.

Rare earth elements, called "rare earths" by those who use and study them, often prove irreplaceable in green technologies and high-tech consumer products. Yet the world's production of rare minerals relies mainly upon China, and the Chinese government warned last year that its own rising demand will soon force it to stop exporting the precious elements.

"Countries and companies that have or plan to develop industries that need rare earth minerals to make products are concerned about China's growing consumption, which they fear will eliminate China's exports of rare earths," said W. David Menzie, chief of the international minerals section at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

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Three Things Your Startup Should Put Off As Long As PossibleWhile there are often investments that should be made upfront, often times new founders and new startups will waste money and time on things that they shouldn't. I sure know I did during my first go-round. Don't make my mistakes. Here are three things you should put off as long as possible:

Don't incorporate until you're playing with Other People's Money.

There are two kinds of other people's money. The first is Other People's Money -- investment dollars from outside sources: friends, family, angels, VCs, certain grants, and so forth. The second kind of other people's money is even more important -- paying customers.

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The Future Of Science In The Next Decade? Transdisciplinary Collaboration User pic.I was asked the question, "What can we expect to see from science in the next decade?" My answer comes from the perspective of a social scientist, as I research social problems from the influence of cognitive neuroscience. I am inspired to write this particular analysis after attending the TED 2010 conference, which wrapped up this past weekend in Long Beach, CA.

Some of you may ask, "What is TED? And how does it relate to science in the next decade?"

TED is a conference held every year in California where the world's best thinkers, innovators, scientists, designers, engineers, entertainers, politicians, philosophers, convention breakers, envelope pushers, you name it- come together in a glorious think tank environment in which to spread ideas and share innovation from every area of society. As TED attendee Red Maxwell, President of onramp branding, so cleverly stated, "Every speaker at TED is a type of hero. Everyone has their own super power, based on their field." Indeed, TED speakers are all superheroes in their prospective domains, and TED itself is the Hall of Justice for thinkers and innovators. Even the attendees at TED are amazing. They are some of the most passionate, creative, interesting people in the world, meeting for four days of networking, sharing of ideas, and learning from one another. I have had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people at TED, who have inspired me to share my vision of science in the next decade.

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Innovation Perspectives - Six Ways to SundayI believe this question should really be broken up because there are three VERY different (and incredibly important) pursuits intermingled here:

1. Trend spotting
2. Putting emerging behaviors into context for a business
3. Putting emerging needs into context for a business

Only at the very beginning of a business, when it is all or nothing for a small team of founders, should responsibility for these three tasks be combined. The reason responsibility for these three different pursuits should be split up is because each requires a different way of thinking, that often requires different types of people to generate the most relevant and actionable insights.

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February is an important month in the history of American commerce. In this month is the birthday of one of the country's earliest business innovators and large-scale entrepreneurs.

Founding FatherDuring a time period of America's existence as an English colony and then a young nation -- when, to put it mildly, communication and transportation faced challenges -- this businessman's enterprise processed 1.5 million fish per year sent throughout the 13 American colonies and the British West Indies. The mill he built grinded 278,000 pounds of branded flour annually that was shipped through America and, unusual during colonization, even exported to England as well as Portugal. And in the 1790s, during the last years of his life, this mogul built one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the new nation.

Don't think you've heard of this entrepreneur? Well, it's possible you might know him from some of his achievements in the political sphere. He did, in fact, have a few notable accomplishments there. Like serving as a representative in colonial Virginia's House of Burgesses and as a Virginia delegate to the pre-Revolutionary War Continental Congress. Then being chosen to lead the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and leading the American nation to a hard-fought victory for independence. And then, a few years after that, becoming the new nation's first president.

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McKnight professor Larry Wackett describes how these large drums were used to mass-produce the enzyme able to detect melamine in milk for use in Bioo Scientific's MaxSignal rapid test kit in Minnesota's BioTechnology Institute Pilot Plant. As other sources dry up, revenue from research commercialization is becoming increasingly important for American universities. Attracting that revenue, however, is a complex process.

In 2008, infants in China began exhibiting mysterious kidney problems.

That fall, news broke that several companies had added melamine, a dangerous industrial chemical, to milk to boost its apparent protein content. By the end of the year, six children had died, and nearly 300,000 fell ill.

The World Health Organization called on researchers to develop a rapid test for melamine. As it turned out, an enzyme able to detect the substance had been sitting in Larry Wackett’s lab at the University of Minnesota for years.

Wackett and the University sold the enzyme to Bioo Scientific Corp., a solution Wackett called “win-win” for a technology previously of no use to the general public.

The idea to commercialize research breakthroughs from American universities is hardly new; quite the opposite, it’s been statutorily mandated for 30 years.

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TechdirtA bunch of folks have been sending in Google CEO Eric Schmidt's recent op-ed on how to encourage more innovation in the US.  The suggestions make perfect sense and there's nothing in there that I disagree with. He says Congress should encourage more competition, and be careful not to pass legislation that favors incumbents over upstarts. This is absolutely true, but the likelihood of that happening is pretty dismal, given how big a role big company lobbyists have in drafting legislation, and given how campaign contributions work today. He also talks about more open information access and the importance of keeping talented skilled workers here, rather than pushing them to other countries.

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The offices of the biotech startup Zyngenia are located at the Firstfield Professional Center, shown here, in Gaithersburg. (Andrew Harnik/Examiner)  Read more at the Washington Examiner: County officials gave a Gaithersburg company a $1.5 million taxpayer-funded grant based on support for the startup by a venture capitalist who leads it.

County Executive Ike Leggett also asked the County Council to support state funding for Zyngenia, writing in a letter that the venture capitalist, David Mott, "supports the funding of this company."

Mott was named chairman of Zyngenia in November when the Maryland venture capital firm where he is a partner, New Enterprise Associates, announced that it was investing $10 million in the company. Zyngenia, which was founded in 2008, seeks to develop new anti-cancer and autoimmune drugs.

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In the spirit of the upcoming Olympics, the editors at put on their judge hats to award some accolades to the top social media innovators among the nation's colleges and universities. From active Twitter feeds and fan-packed Facebook pages to creative YouTube videos and compelling blogs, here are the 50 schools that captivated us with their social media savvy. Congratulations to the medal winners in the first "Web 2.0 College Olympics..."

Gold Medal Winners

tufts twitter1. Tufts University - What's for dinner? If you're a student at Tufts, you'll always be in the know about your next meal since the school's two dining halls tweet breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus every day of the week. Tufts maintains a handful of other Twitter feeds, like @TuftsUniversity and @TischLibrary. Students interested in the school can join the Tufts Facebook group, which is moderated by more than two dozen students and also provides links to a variety of student and administrator blogs. Plus, the university has an entire site dedicated to Web 2.0 tools like wikis, podcasts, conferencing, and more.

johns hopkins twitter2. Johns Hopkins University - The prolific feed of Johns Hopkins University is packed with tips on everything from area restaurants to major money-saving deals on Windows 7. Plus, the school gets props for letting the Twitterverse in on its tongue-in-cheek swine flu lexicon. Twenty current students are official bloggers for the Hopkins Interactive hub, which also presents student profiles, videos, and discussion forums. Johns Hopkins even maintains a separate Facebook page for prospective students.

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