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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.

The unemployment rate is climbing, the recession is dragging on and credit markets are tight. That means now is the ideal time to start a new business.

“We are seeing a strong spike in the number of people who are exploring entrepreneurship,” said Maria Meyers, network builder for KCSourceLink in Kansas City.

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I've read several books about innovation, and am reading another which I'll review shortly here on the blog, which talk about the importance of combining disparate skills or capabilities when innovating, or holding two diametrically opposing ideas and finding the happy medium. What should be obvious is that one of the most important skills from an innovation perspective is the act and insight of synthesis.

This is a real challenge, because most people are taught to break down problems into smaller, finite pieces and solve the smaller problems. We also work as specialists, with deep understanding of our core capabilities and knowledge, but often with little insights or knowledge beyond our education or jobs. So most people don't use synthesis skills on a regular basis, and are probably prone to avoiding synthesis since synthesis requires introducing a number of new and possibly unknown factors which may simply make the problem larger and more difficult.

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Entrepreneurs frequently ask us about angel investor activity and availability of funding. Many questioners are frustrated by the difficulty of finding available funding for their early stage ventures. We have already posted several tips for entrepreneurs on funding early stage ventures and will continue to address this matter, as there appears to be considerable interest in the topic.

In order to put the subject of angel investment funding in perspective, we felt it was important to first present information about the scope and extent of recent angel investor activity.

The Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire is considered a premier source of information and research on the topic of angel investor activity. Their report on 2008 angel investor activity[1] presents the most recent picture for a full years activity.

 

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CitySquares Online Inc. saw sales start to decline dramatically in late 2008 as some of the local-search-engine provider's customers could no longer afford its advertising services.

So the small business turned to its board of six volunteer advisers—experts in areas such as sales, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and venture capital—who suggested expanding the Web site beyond its northeast footprint.

 

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Long known as the financial capital of the country, if not the world, New York City is now aiming to be something else: a biotech start-up hub.

With real estate expensive and funding to bring companies out of universities wanting, Maria Gotsch, president and chief executive of the New York City Investment Fund, said her group has been working to create a more welcoming environment for start-ups in the city. “We’re looking to stack the deck in New York City’s favor,” she said.

The NYCIF, a privately funded evergreen fund founded by private equity giant Henry Kravis, has pledged $5 million for the Translational Research Fund as part of the larger New York City Bioscience Initiative, spearheaded by the city, to spur life science development in the city. A city-contracted nonprofit, the New York City Economic Development Corp., will manage marketing and organizational support for the fund.

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In April 2009, the Deshpande Center issued its annual Institute-wide call for proposals for two levels of grant awards - Ignition and Innovation. The grants target projects focusing on novel, enabling and potentially useful ideas and innovations in all areas of technology. Funding for Ignition awards - up to $50,000 per grant - might enable only exploratory experiments and limited proof of concept, and an Ignition Grant can position projects to receive further funding to continue to develop an innovation. Funding for Innovation awards - for as much as $250,000 per grant - is meant to benefit projects that have progressed beyond their earliest stages and are closer to commercialization.

 

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Last week president Barroso gave a remarkable, forward looking speech to Parliament at the European Innovation Summit. He characterises how the knowledge society needs to be a driver of innovation and outlines the cornerstones of the future European innovation policy. This includes, amongst other things, the aspects of open innovation, of standardisation as a facilitator of innovation, and of the need for new, innovative models for IPR handling.

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Federal Technology Week

NASA, as part of its efforts to develop a technology roadmap for the commercial reusable launch vehicle (RLV) industry, is to partner with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The study will focus on identifying technologies and assessing their potential use to accelerate development of commercial RLVs that have improved reliability, availability, launch turn-time, robustness and significantly lower costs than current launch systems. Results from the study will provide roadmaps with recommended federal technology tasks and milestones for different vehicle categories.

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A NATIONAL network to identify, initiate and co-ordinate industry-focused forensic research and innovation will seek up to $80 million to ensure its existence beyond the next three years.

The Australian Future Forensics Innovation Network last week received $2m from the Queensland government's Smart Futures Fund's National and International Research Alliances Program.

The network, which was developed out of a need to have a co-ordinated national strategy for forensic science research and development, has also received $4.8m from its 19 partner organisations.

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Before reaching their dangerous conclusionrecommending government supported journalism in a report called the Reconstruction of American Journalism – former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie and Columbia journalism prof Michael Schudson make some basic and, I believe, profoundly mistaken assumptions, namely: “That journalism is now at risk, along with the advertising-supported economic foundations of newspapers.”

Just because newspapers put themselves at risk, it does not follow that journalism is at risk. Newspapers no longer own journalism. As too often happens in this discussion, they focus only on the revenue side of the business ledger of news – advertising falling from monopolistic heights – and not on the cost side and the efficiency new technology – and thus collaboration – that technology allows.

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TOP DEAL

Bangalore-based Eka Software Solutions, which makes software applications for the commodities trading industry, raised $10 million from Nexus Venture Partners (earlier known as Nexus India Capital). Eka was founded in 2001 by CEO Manav Garg and currently employs over 200 people. It aims to get to $100 million revenues by 2012 – read more at Outlook Business here. Current revenue numbers are not available.

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