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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.

Judging from the flurry of venture-capital deals, big oil company investments, and attention from politicians on startups creating biofuels from algae, it might seem like the world has fallen in love with the technology to power vehicles with pond scum. But after all of the algae euphoria this summer, we’ve started seeing a few signs of an algae fuel backlash, with several prominent investors publicly questioning the economics of algae fuel.

At the AlwaysOn’s GoingGreen conference, outspoken cleantech investor Vinod Khosla said his firm has aggressively been looking at algae technologies, but hasn’t found one viable plan after looking at “maybe two dozen.” “The economics of algae don’t seem to work,” he said. (You can watch the video here by clicking on “Renewables at Scale.”)

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Over 25 years ago, the Federal government created a way to ensure that innovative solutions to tough science and technology problems would be developed. And, very cleverly, they did it in way that bolsters the largest job creation sector of our economy – small business. This initiative is called the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

Here’s how it works: The largest Federal agencies (those that spend over $100 million annually on outside research and development), must set aside a percentage (currently 2.5%) of their R and D budget for SBIR projects. In 2008 this represented over $2 billion of available funding. These projects are reserved for our domestic for-profit small businesses that are independently owned and operated by individuals (not large entities). The agencies pose problems, usually tough ones that they need solved to help fulfill their missions. The small businesses are invited to submit proposals for solving them, describing how they’re going to do the work and spend the money (up to $850K in two phases – feasibility and prototype development).

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Could following the next steps toward California's new clean-energy economy really lead to burdensome regulations and increased job loss? Or, instead, will the implementation of AB 32, the groundbreaking road map to that future, more likely lead to further innovation and leadership?

How we answer these timely questions could determine our state's economic future.

We cannot ignore that even with its recent fiscal woes, California has been leading a national transformation for decades in the ways we use energy, communicate, conduct business and think about innovation. Why would anyone want to impose a moratorium on our future?

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New ITIF Report:
"Designed for Change: End-to-End Arguments, Internet Innovation, and the Net Neutrality Debate"

Many advocates of strict net neutrality regulation argue that the Internet has always been a “dumb pipe” and that Congress should require that it remains so. A new report by ITIF Research Fellow Richard Bennett reviews the historical development of the Internet architecture and finds that contrary to such claims, an extraordinarily high degree of intelligence is embedded in the network core. Indeed, the fact that the Internet was originally built to serve the needs of the network research community but has grown into a global platform of commerce and communications was only made possible by continuous and innovative Internet engineering. In the new ITIF report Designed for Change: End-to-End Arguments, Internet Innovation, and the Net Neutrality Debate, Bennett traces the development of the Internet architecture from the CYCLADES network in France to the present, highlighting developments that have implications for Internet policy. This review will help both engineers and policymakers separate the essentials from the incidentals, identify challenges to continued evolution, and develop appropriate policy frameworks.

Read the report

Report release event audio and video

Last week’s Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit was teeming with experts. They offered points and opinions on so many topics, with data to back it all up. Here, some of our favorite stats:

1. The No. 1 quality that successful business leaders have in common is that they started a business at a young age. –Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) (Click for video of Summit interview with Buffett.)

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I invite everyone to read President Obama’s new Innovation Strategy document and see for yourself if it adds up. To me, it is a list of priorities, important priorities to be sure, that are just stitched together in one document and called “innovation.”

It is chock full of talk about information technology, sustainability, open markets, and clean energy, stuff engineers from Silicon Valley love to champion. I champion all that too. It is chock full of all the reasons why the US is in danger of losing its economic preemience. This, too, I applaud for its veracity. But these pieces don’t add up to a national innovation strategy.

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TRENTON – Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced the launch of the New Jersey Patent Bank, a new Web portal designed to spur innovation in New Jersey and foster technology transfer between the state’s academic and business communities.

“New Jersey’s rich history of scientific research and discovery has had a profound impact on our state, our nation and our world,” Governor Corzine said. “The Patent Bank gives users access to the wealth of cutting-edge research available all over the state, particularly in our academic and research institutions. This is the exactly the type of innovation we must encourage to remain competitive in the global economy.”

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State and local business organizations have launched a venture-capital "fund of funds" that aims to raise up to $200 million to finance small high-tech Arizona companies that aspire to become the future Microsofts and Googles of the world.

The private fund, which could begin releasing money by mid-2010, will zero in on innovative startup firms in areas such as information technology, life sciences and solar that can create high-paying, high-quality jobs.

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The longer you hang around a subject, the more interesting the rumors and misperceptions. Innovation seems to spawn a number of fallacies, probably because it is very important, haphazardly performed and misunderstood by management. The combination of importance, carelessness and ignorance probably spawns a lot of fallacies. In fact, it sounds a lot like teen sex in a way.

One interesting new fallacy that seems to be making the rounds is that "open innovation" is easier and cheaper than innovation within the four walls of your organization. Open innovation can drive more ideas, and in many cases simply bypasses the bureaucracy and sloth of an organization to attract a number of people from outside the organization. In this manner open innovation can be faster, but it is not cheaper or less expensive, nor does it require fewer resources. Open innovation just shifts the costs from an innovation team, or R&D, to legal, IP and business development. If your legal, IP and business development teams have more bandwidth or lower cost than your innovation or R&D teams, perhaps this is a logical tradeoff. But don't expect open innovation to dramatically reduce the cost of innovation.

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China is embarking on a new, parallel path of clean power deployment and innovation. It is the Sputnik of our day. Unfortunately, we’re still not racing.

Most people would assume that 20 years from now when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was the Great Recession. I’d hold off on that. If we can continue stumbling out of this economic crisis, I believe future historians may well conclude that the most important thing to happen in the last 18 months was that Red China decided to become Green China.

Yes, China’s leaders have decided to go green — out of necessity because too many of their people can’t breathe, can’t swim, can’t fish, can’t farm and can’t drink thanks to pollution from its coal- and oil-based manufacturing growth engine. And, therefore, unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.
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If you are a Early Stage Startup, your chances are of getting VC or Private Equity funding is very slim and numbers prove it – Only 9% of all the VC / PE deals have been for early stage companies between 2004 to 2008. This is especially true during the times of recession. Venture Capitalists play it safe and hardly venture in funding a early stage startups.

These are the findings of “India Venture Capital & Private Equity Report 2009”, created by Thillai Rajan & Ashish Deshmukh of IIT, Madras. The report analysis in detail the venture capital and Private Equity funding in India between 2004 to 2008.

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Dubai, September 27, 2009: TechnoPark, the science and technology facilitator of Economic Zones World has been appointed as an affiliate member of the World Business Angels Association (WBAA), the Brussels based international community of business angel networks and leaders.

The WBAA, launched at the Dubai Institute of Technology SMEs Forum held in Dubai in April this year, was set up for the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship through the financing of high growth start-up companies with the support of Business Angels worldwide.

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