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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.

GoogleWhat did we learn reading Ken Auletta's book "Googled: The End Of The World As We Know It?"

For one, we learned that at one point in Google's history, Sergey Brin wanted to start a hedge fund.

His thinking was Google had better access to data, and would therefore produce superior returns.
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Durham, NC, December 08, 2009 --( Judges, led by Google's Bill Maris, select Biogenic Medical Devices and the audience selects The Produce Purity Project from 74 original contenders.

The 10th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge, the premiere entrepreneurship competition at Duke University, announced today that Biogenic Medical Devices, led by Garrett Muramoto (MBA'11), took home the Judge's Choice award of $1000 and The Produce Purity Project, led by Stephanie Fruth (MBA'11), won the Audience Choice award of $250 and a special gift of $500 from lead judge Bill Maris, Co-Founder of Google Ventures. A standing room only crowd of more than 500 packed Geneen Auditorium for the Elevator Pitch Competition Final showdown on Friday November 20 where 14 teams pitched and the winners took home the prize money. The event was broadcast live on the Internet and is now available on the Duke Start-Up Challenge website at

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WSJAn inside look from VentureWire at high-tech start-ups and their investors.

The venture capital industry is engaged in an urgent effort to ward off Congress from significantly increasing the taxes on profits made by venture firms.

The House today voted in favor of the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 that would raise tax rates on carried interest earned by investment managers – including venture firms – to ordinary income rates, or around 35%, from a lower capital gains rate of 15%. While venture firms collect management fees of about 2% committed capital, carried interest - or the profits made when portfolio companies are sold or go public - is the big money maker for VCs.
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Washington Business JournalGov. Tim Kaine has formed an Innovation and Entrepeneurship Investment Authority in Virginia, consolidating two existing groups that work on state research and development.

The Innovative Technology Authority, established in 1984 and the Virginia Research and Technology Advisory Commission comprise the new authority. The General Assembly signed it into law earlier this year.

The group has a 13-member board of state business leaders including Ted Cahall, chief technology officer of AOL LLC; Ray Johnson, senior vice president of Lockheed Martin Corp.; and representatives from The George Washington University, George Mason University and James Madison University.
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It looks like the innovation issue may really be gaining some attention in Washington. David Brooks, the in-house conservative political columnist for the New York Times devoted today's column to the subject. He even mentioned in passing the Obama white paper (see earlier posting). While supposedly looking at the recommendations from the paper, interestingly enough he ignored that paper's central conclusion: that we need an activist innovation policy - complete with ways of addressing grand challenges. Brooks instead took the tack of advocating a set of high level government interventions. The included reforming education, increasing R&D spending, a National Infrastructure Bank, support for regional innovation clusters and rebalancing exchange rates. He also through in a few of the standard conservative positions: cut the deficit, lower the corporate tax rate and "Don't make labor markets rigid. Don't pick trade fights with China." (Although I'm not sure that "rebalancing the exchange rate isn't picking a huge trade fight with China.)
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Paul VolckerSpeaking at the Wall Street Journal's Future of Finance Initiative yesterday, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker looked to finance's recent past and saw little to like, noting that he has yet to see any evidence that financial market innovations have provided any benefit to the economy.

Apparently, Volcker thinks the industry reached a peak when it invented the ATM and, given what's happened over the last year or two, it's hard to disagree with that view.

He said, "It really helps people, it’s useful."
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TechDirtIt's time for our third UPS-sponsored whiteboard video, explaining some of the topics we discuss around here in two minutes or less. As you might remember, the first explained the economics of abundance and the second discussed the innovator's dilemma. This third one is about the difference between invention and innovation, and the process from getting from the first to the second, using one particular product as an example:


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US NewsEight million may finally be enough. That's the approximate number of jobs lost since the recession began at the end of 2007. The latest government data show that after 23 straight months of job losses, the unemployment rate has finally stopped rising and started falling. That's the most hopeful sign to date that the tsunami of layoffs is abating. If the trend continues, it will confirm an end to the devastating recession.

But an end to job losses won't solve the unemployment problem. The U.S. economy needs to add more than 100,000 jobs per month just for the unemployment rate to stay even and more than that to get back to an economy that feels healthy. And there's little sign of new jobs popping up in significant numbers anywhere. To understand why, I spoke recently with Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes entrepreneurship. Schramm participated in President Obama's recent "jobs summit" and advocates government incentives to help create and nurture small businesses. Excerpts from our conversation:
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Business WeekLast night the Plain English Campaign award ceremony was held in London. The 30th time these gongs have been doled out, individual prizes include “Golden Bull” awards, “for the worst examples of written tripe” as well as the “Foot in Mouth” award, “for baffling quotes by public figures.” The latter was won this year by none other than Peter Mandelson, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. His crime against coherence? This statement, uttered in defence of Gordon Brown at the time of the MPs’ expenses scandal:

“Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the Prime Minister is getting right.”

Er. Congratulations, Lord Mandelson. Here, see some of this year’s other winners, including Coca-Cola Enterprises and American Airlines.
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NYTBANGALORE, India — In the United States and Europe, people worry that their well-paying, high-skill jobs will be, in a word, “Bangalored” — shipped off to India.

People here are also worried about the future. They fret that Bangalore, and India more broadly, will remain a low-cost satellite office of the West for the foreseeable future — more Scranton, Pa., in the American television series “The Office,” than Silicon Valley.

Even as the rest of the world has come to admire, envy and fear India’s outsourcing business and its technological prowess, many Indians are disappointed that the country has not quickly moved up to more ambitious and lucrative work from answering phones or writing software. Why, they worry, hasn’t India produced a Google or an Apple?
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SKANEWhat are the preconditions for Skåne being able to compete on an international scale and achieving sustainable growth over the long term? What capacity does the region have for de- veloping new knowledge and new innovations? These are just two of the questions investiga- ted by the analysis presented in this report of the region's conditions for growth and its capaci- ty for innovation.

With the support of VINNOVA, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems, Region Skåne is working over the long term to enhance the innovation capacity and competitive potential of the region. Part of this work has involved the completion of an exhaustive analysis, and an international peer review of the regional innovation system is to be undertaken. The work is of pilot type and is based on approaches and methods that, as far as we know, have not previ- ously been applied, either in Sweden or anywhere else in the world.


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There is a lot that a venture capitalist considers before signing a check for a start-up company. In addition to presenting a solid business plan, a step-by-step commercialization strategy and a solid understanding of the market, Mark Suster, partner of GRP Partners in Los Angeles, suggests on that there are five skills that an entrepreneur must have before he signs a check.

Suster lists tenacity as the first must-have skill, adding, “Tenacity is probably the most important attribute in an entrepreneur. It’s the person who never gives up — who never accepts ‘no’ for an answer. The world is filled with doubters who say that things can’t be done and then pronounce after the fact that they ‘knew it all along.’ Look at Google. You think that anybody really believed 1999 that two young kids out of Stanford had a shot at unseating Yahoo!, Excite, Ask Jeeves and Lycos? Yeah, right.”
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