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.
A program that would make Iowa a center of medical innovation was kicked off Friday by state leaders and Richard Gephardt, the former congressman from Missouri.
"This is the most exciting thing I've ever done. I've come out of every one of these meetings just uplifted with what can happen here. It's really optimistic, it's possible, doable and feasible," said Gephardt, chairman of the Council for American Medical Innovation.
Even non-football fans probably heard about Bill Belichick's "blunder" of a call on Sunday night. Believe it or not, the call — and the firestorm that followed — has important lessons for innovation managers.
A quick recap. The New England Patriots led the Indianapolis Colts by six points with two minutes to go. It was fourth down, the ball was on the New England 28 yard line, and the Patriots needed just two yards for a first down that would almost certainly have sealed a victory. Conventional wisdom called for a punt, but Coach Belichick decided to go for it. After the Patriots fell just short of the first down, the Colts marched into the end zone and won the game.
The headline and subtitle of the Newsweek story got my attention: "The Decline of Western Innovation -- Why America is falling behind and how to fix it."
Innovation. What is that anyhow? Webster says it's "(1) the introduction of something new. (2) a new idea, method, or device."
OK. That's simple enough. SBIR is supposed to provide funding for small businesses to develop new ideas, methods or devices for solving Federal agency defined problems. That's why the "I" is in SBIR, isn't it?
Has SBIR been effective in producing innovation? YES! The evidence is overwhelming.
A 2008 study done by two University of California at Davis professors, Fred Block and Matt Keller, addressed the subject of "Where Do Innovations Come From?"
When people around the world try to explain the American system of entrepreneurship, they often point to venture capital. True enough, the venture capital ecosystem has nurtured startups that became household names—among them Apple (AAPL), Cisco (CSCO), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and Starbucks (SBUX). For much of the 1990s and thereafter, venture capital was seen as the "secret sauce" of American entrepreneurship and an engine of job growth. In its heyday in 2000, VC investing reached an astonishing 1.1% of U.S. GDP.
But what if the prominence of venture capital—its branding as the essence of American innovation—turns out to be a phenomenon of the past?
Isaac Asimov once said "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, "hmm.... that's funny….". Based on a 30 year study across 300 product categories and 225 countries, the phrase might actually be "Hmmm…. that's what I thought."
A new whitepaper from Phillip Roos from GFK sums up 30 years of findings started by product guru Robert McMath. The paper deserves a deeper dive - (which will be coming in some form or another) but I'll try to share the highlights with you at least:
The Chord of Familiarity - Great innovation builds on what comes before it. This lines up with something I have long believed – there is no such thing as revolutionary innovation, just a series of incremental evolutionary innovations that at some point reaches a tipping point and appears to be revolutionary. I've used the iPhone as an example before.
Newswise - Entrepreneurial activity shows positive signs during these hard times, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2008 National Entrepreneurial Assessment for the United States of America, produced by Babson College and Baruch College. To view the report, visit www.gemconsortium.org.
* Entrepreneurship Increases: Total entrepreneurial activity (TEA) increased to 10.8% in 2008 from 9.6% in 2007.
* Opportunity Obsessed: Opportunity continues to be the main driver for entrepreneurs in the United States - 87% started their businesses because of a business opportunity while only 13% started their businesses out of necessity.
Lani Hay, daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, retired from the Navy as an intelligence officer, and then with her American Express card and some savings, opened a technology consulting business serving the federal government. By 2007, just four years after it opened its doors, Lanmark Technology had grown to bring in $12 million in annual revenue and employ 100 people.* Then the recession hit. “Along with L.M.T.’s annual revenues dropping, L.M.T.’s line of credit was also dropped, by a bank that bought out the bank that I was working with,” Ms. Hay said Wednesday in a conference in Washington, convened by the Obama administration to address the problems small businesses have had finding capital during the recession. Worse, she said, the bank canceled the credit line just before she was to receive a $500,000 contract from the Defense Department — and she had needed the credit to tide her firm over until the government paid its bills.
Ms. Hay’s story, which she recounted to an audience of government officials, small businesses, lenders and interested trade associations, had a punchline. “That bank is actually here today,” she said. “I’m not going to name them, but they are here.”
It’s amazing to go back and read what people were saying about Timothy Geithner in the spring. Many people said he looked terrified as the Treasury secretary, like Bambi in the headlights. The New Republic ran an essay called “The Geithner Disaster.” Portfolio magazine ran a brutal, zeitgeist-capturing profile that concluded by comparing Geithner to Robert Redford’s hollow man character in “The Candidate.”
The criticism of his plan to stabilize the financial system came from all directions. House Republicans called it radical. Many liberal economists thought the plan was the product of hapless, zombie thinking and argued that only full bank nationalization would end the crisis. The Wall Street Journal asked 49 economists to grade Geithner. They gave him an F
Working for a start-up is hard enough. Trying to wittily describe ”the unique entrepreneurial culture that sets their company apart and inspires them to go to work each day” - in 140 characters or less - is equally challenging.
That was the task set by the National Venture Capital Association and job board StartUpHire, which asked for Twitter-esque submissions from start-up employees in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
You can find more than 100 of them here, and submit your own. Many of them aim to be funny, some inspire, though quite a few are simply advertising their start-ups or didn’t seem to understand the objective. Here are a few of our favorites. (Post yours at the aforementioned link, and if it’s interesting enough, we’ll add it below.)
The San Diego area is the home of numerous cleantech businesses that are developing innovative green cars (Aptera, V-Vehicle Co.), developing alternative fuels (GreenHouse International, Synthetic Genomics Inc., Sapphire Energy), finding alternatives to petrochemicals (Genomatica, Verdezyne), and providing renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions (KEMA, Kyocera, Envision Solar).
Assisting our growing cluster is a network of non-profits, trade groups, government agencies, universities, and investors who share a common interest in cultivating a green economy. These groups collaborate on many projects, strengthening our vision for more green businesses, jobs, and investments in cleantech innovation. But while they share common goals, local green groups are also distinct in many ways and often compete for money, members, and media; their varying perspective, focus, message, membership, and goals can be confusing. If you’re an entrepreneur, how can you find support for the green innovations you hope to commercialize? Where do investors look for opportunities and advice? Where can founders find the resources they need to move their ventures forward?
It is a seeming paradox that in today's world economy, despite an overwhelming trend toward globalization, the "power of place" matters more than ever. In fact, studies show that regional and local policies matter more than national policies in fostering economic growth.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently published two reports on this phenomenon, with direct consequences for regions such as Paso del Norte.
DOE’s new renewable energy Venture Capital unit ARPA-E has just funded an entirely new kind of liquid battery innovation from MIT professor Donald Sadoway, that works like an aluminum plant running in reverse; producing power instead of consuming it.
Under the ARPA-E program at the DOE, the Obama administration has provided record-setting funding for advanced breakthroughs in renewable energy technology - that could propel America to the front of the post-oil age economy.