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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.

InformationWeek 500: A Year Of Relentless Innovation

It's the first half of 2009, and unemployment's rising to a 26-year high of 9.5%. Sound like the perfect time to launch an aggressive technology-driven product?

It was for Progressive Insurance, which kicked off its "Name Your Price" Web site tool, letting customers build their own insurance policies, starting with what they think they can afford. It was for Coca-Cola, which tested a prototype fountain drink dispenser IT developed over two years with the company's R&D team, letting consumers mix a variety of new flavors while aligning Coke with a select group of fast-food restaurants to analyze buying data and manage inventories better. And it was for CME Group, the world's largest derivatives exchange, which partnered with Brazil's top exchange to give traders electronic access to CME products, expanding CME's global presence.

Economic Club heading to Metro

When leaders are looking to communicate with the Canadian people, the Economic Club of Canada is the choice forum. That's why the club has welcomed people such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Senator John McCain, Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko, and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to its podium in downtown Toronto in the past few years, not to mention practically every Canadian premier and cabinet minister.

Next month, that prized podium will hit the road, coming to Atlantic Canada for the first time so that one of the brains behind Barack Obama's epochal social media campaign for president can speak to the people of Metro Moncton.

Emerging Technologies Thrive in Canada

The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), today recognized Systèmes d’Énergie et Propulsion EPS Inc. as a Canadian Innovation Leader for developing high-tech electronic-propulsion solutions for cyclists, linking scientific research to commercialization, jobs, and economic growth.

A Canadian Innovation Leader is a small- or medium-sized enterprise (SME) that demonstrates specific advances in research and development within its industrial sector. The National research Council of Canada (NRC) created the Canadian Innovation Leader Certificate Program to recognize Canadian firms that have successfully developed and applied innovative technologies.

'Doing Business' Rankings Stimulating Reform

The overview of the Doing Business Report 2010 is now available. Since 2004, the World Bank’s Doing Business project has been tracking regulatory reforms in 10 areas of business regulation that record the time and cost to meet government requirements in starting and operating a business, trading across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business. Each year, Doing Business ranks 183 economies according to these 10 areas. These rankings have stimulated reforms to improve the overall ease of doing business by allowing policymakers to prioritize reforms and learn from global best practices.

WSJ: Where Are They Now?

For technology innovators, there's the "Eureka!" moment and then there's the business of putting discoveries to work. Here's a look at how some winners from last year—plus the top winner from 2007—have fared since we recognized their achievements.

Venture capital partnerships expand Pennsylvania economy

Governor Ed Rendell recently announced a shot of venture capital funding for early-stage life science companies in western Pennsylvania. Through a program managed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, the New PA Venture Capital Investment Program will provide $5 million to Pittsburgh-based Corridor Ventures to invest in Pennsylvania-related companies within the life sciences sector.

The New PA Venture Capital Investment Program was created by Governor Rendell’s 2003 Economic Stimulus Package after he first came into office. The stimulus package passed the state legislature in 2004, clearing the way for the Venture Capital Investment Program along with other financing programs meant to jumpstart the Pennsylvania economy.

Angel Finance: An Entrepreneurs Guide

Angel finance is fast becoming a popular option for many South African entrepreneurs. With the global banking crises meaning that banks are becoming more choosy with their bank loans and business finance business owners with viable business plans are opting for both funding and expertise from business angels. If you've missed our previous blog on what Angel investors are, click here

Five Websites Every Entrepreneur Should Use

Today, many businesses are getting large portions of their website traffic from social media sites. It's one thing to bring an audience you already have over to your Twitter account, but the true test is to create growth. The most successful are the ones that network and engage in conversation rather than use their accounts like bullhorns to make announcements.

Nurturing high-tech business

FAIRMONT — At an upcoming conference, people from the state and beyond can learn how to grow their capacity through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

The 2009 Mid-Atlantic SBIR/STTR Conference is scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown. The West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation’s INNOVA Commercialization Group and the West Virginia Development Office are hosting the event. Judy McCauley, district director of the SBA’s West Virginia District Office, is serving as an adviser during the planning.

WSJ: The Daily Start-Up: VCs Watch Their College Funds Wither

Less Endowed - University endowments are significant contributors to venture capital funds, but the financial crisis has exposed weaknesses in these schools’ investments and shrunk their coffers. This is illustrated by reports yesterday from two of the wealthiest, Harvard University and Yale University, which each stated that their endowments tumbled 30%, school records, in the year ended June 30. That’s due in part to their investments in private equity (which includes venture capital) - Harvard, for instance, reported (opens PDF document) that its investments in private equity funds, which generally represent about 13% of its now $26 billion endowment, fell almost 32%. Yale’s commitment to PE is much larger at 20%. Harvard has already said it would reduce its allocation to private equity overall, though it’s not clear how much these schools will adjust their commitments specifically to venture capital. Other wealthy schools, including Stanford, have recorded similar losses, illustrating how the VC industry will have less money to play with.

Belgium: Will its enviable geographic position continue to ensure success in pharma?

Occupying an enviable position both physically and politically in the heart of Europe, Belgium has benefitted extensively from its location in recent years, and the development of the EU has also provided considerable impetus for growth. The headquarters of the EC and home of the European Parliament and NATO, Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is the centre of European politics. With the recent enlargement of the EU, the country is also at the centre of a market of 0.5 billion consumers. A well-developed infrastructure combined with world-class education and technical expertise, as well as a physical proximity to the markets and capitals of Western Europe, lends local firms many advantages and has made the country a highly attractive base for international companies to conduct business in Europe.

Interview: Vinod Khosla Is On The Hunt For Great Technologies

In venture capital, Vinod Khosla likes to go his own way, which is why he’s been so successful. He was the founding CEO of Sun Microsystems, and then moved to venture capital and became a star partner at Kleiner Perkins, where he backed Juniper Networks, Cerent (sold to Cisco for $7 billion) and NexGen (sold to AMD and formed the basis for its challenge to Intel). About five years ago, after becoming a billionaire, he left Kleiner and started Khosla Ventures to invest his own money. He was mostly drawn to clean tech at a time before it was popular, but still kept his hand in Web and other tech startups (Aliph|Jawbone, iSkoot, RingCentral, Tapulous, iLike, Slide, Xobni). Khosla Ventures already has more than 50 companies in its portfolio (see slides below).