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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.

How Should Government Spur Small-Business Innovation? by Robb Mendelbaum

With health care reform and economic recovery sucking up so much of what little oxygen circulates in Washington, you’ll have to forgive The Agenda for only now turning to the Small Business Innovation Research program, which is set to expire on July 31 unless Congress acts to reauthorize it.

Last week, the Senate did its part, but its version of S.B.I.R. reauthorization is much different from the one the House passed on July 8. Now Congress faces the difficult task of reconciling two visions of how the government should harness the power of small firms to innovate, and the competing interests are choosing sides. The bills pit companies with venture funding against those without it — and research institutions against them both.

A Peek Inside the ExxonMobil/Craig Venter Algae Project

I nudged the wonderful Jane Van Ryan at the API last week shortly after the press release came out about ExxonMobil and Craig Venter’s SGI setting out with $600 million to try to get algae sourced oils into the market. Even at ExxonMobil, $600 million is a sizeable amount of money, with a certain amount of explaining to be done with the shareholders. So to sharpen up the points I’ve been contacted by ExxonMobil to see what questions might get answered. Not all of them to be sure, proprietary things are going to get in the way.

WSJ: Europe Falls Behind Silicon Valley In VC Deal Flow

Instead, it’s because Europe’s venture capital scene is rapidly shrinking. Some firms have recoiled or pulled out of venture capital completely, like Europe’s largest investor, 3i Group, did this year to focus solely on growth equity and buyouts.

In the second quarter, Europe’s deals fell for the fourth consecutive quarter to 156, or 24% below the first quarter, while investment dropped 31% quarter-to-quarter to EUR619.7 million ($880.6 million), less than half the amount in the San Francisco Bay area.

Change is in the air for venture capitalists by Adeo Ressi

A lot of changes are in-store for venture capitalists in the second half of 2009, and recent data published by the National Venture Capital Association shows concerning trends. Venture capital firms raised a meager $1.7 billion in the second quarter of 2009, almost six times less than the $9.2 billion raised in same quarter last year. Meanwhile, firms invested $3.6 billion in Q2 ‘09, more than twice as much as they were able to bring in. With more money going out than coming in, here are some predictions for the coming months.

Venture capital rebounds slightly: Is Startup Nation back? by Alex Salkever

According to the MoneyTree Report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data provided by Thomson Reuters, venture capitalists invested $3.7 billion in 612 deals during the quarter. That constitutes a dollar increase in investment activity of 15 percent over the same period last year. However, the number are likely skewed upwards by a handful of very large deals in the life sciences sector and on a normalized basis VC fundings likely would not show as much improvement.

Got Science? We Do, But Things Are Very Different Forty Years After Apollo by Chris Mooney

Seeing a moonscape on the cover of Time magazine as I walked through Chicago’s O’Hare airport this morning cemented for me the fact that we’re in a ripe moment for introspection about the place of science in U.S. society. It’s not just a marker-in-time like Monday’s 40-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s one small step. It’s the bombardment of new survey data from Pew and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, showing the vast gap between science and the public. It’s the ongoing bloodletting in the science blogosphere over how we should deal with the sensitive topic of America’s religiosity. It’s the continual strangulation of science journalism in the traditional media.

Are Manufacturers Also Too Big to Fail?, by Louis Uchitelle

Peter Wynn Thompson for The New York TimesIf the Obama administration has a strategy for reviving manufacturing, Douglas Bartlett would like to know what it is.

Today's Business: Louis Uchitelle on the Obama Administration's Approach to Manufacturing Buffeted by foreign competition, Mr. Bartlett (pictured at right) recently closed his printed circuit board factory, founded 57 years ago by his father, and laid off the remaining 87 workers. Last week, he auctioned off the machinery, and soon he will raze the factory itself in Cary, Ill.

“The property taxes are no longer affordable,” Mr. Bartlett said glumly, “so I am going to tear down the building and sit on the land, and hopefully sell it after the recession when land prices hopefully rise.”

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The Research & Experimentation Tax Credit

Last week, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing on "Helping Small Business Innovators through the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit." Led by the Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology, members listened to the experience of technology entrepreneurs in utilizing this tool, commonly known as the R&D tax credit.

All witnesses stressed two problems: the uncertainty surrounding the permanence of the credit and the administrative burden that the credit’s complexity imposes. They expressed that these barriers prevent small business from using the credit. Witnesses also mentioned other barriers, such as the net operating loss limitation in the credit’s provisions (Scott Ferros, VP and CIO of BlackHawk) and the credit’s interactions with the Alternative Minimum Tax affecting business decisions (Bart Heenan, CEO of Morphix Technologies).