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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.

NYC universities see a spike in enrollments for studies focusing on how students can launch and manage their own businesses.

Colleges have often provided fertile ground for innovation: Facebook was founded by Harvard classmates, Google by Ph.D. students and Napster by a freshman at Northeastern. Even FedEx was born of an economics term paper.

With the job market lagging, success stories like these are boosting interest in entrepreneurship among college students. Colleges and universities nationwide offer more than 5,000 courses on the subject, compared with just 250 in 1985, according to a report from the Kauffman Foundation, an organization that promotes small business formation in the U.S. And in the Big Apple, where many are looking to the startup sector for economic growth, colleges have found a growing demand for entrepreneurial studies.

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Do-good prize season—less glamorous than the Oscars, but contentious nonetheless.

The MacArthur Fellows (often called the "Genius" awards) were announced a few weeks ago and last Friday—well, you know. While everyone else is trying to figure out whether President Obama should have won the Nobel Peace Prize, I'm happy to ponder whether the Nobel Peace Prize should exist at all.

There are generally two kinds of prizes that try to improve the world. The first, like the Nobel, awards those who have made the world better in extraordinary ways. The second, like the X Prize, tries to incentivize innovation that could have enormous impact in the future.

 

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Corporate investors and acquirers are showing more interest in potential deals after a difficult economic downturn, but start-ups can improve their chances of a favorable exit by taking some steps of their own.

A group of top executives from technology companies speaking at the Dow Jones VentureWire Technology Showcase on Wednesday gave their suggestions on do’s and don’ts when seeking an investment or acquisition from these companies.

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Venture capital funding plummeted more than 80 percent in the third quarter, as investors clung to their cash during the recession.

U.S. firms raised just $1.6 billion during the period, the lowest amount since the first quarter of 2003, according to a joint report by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association on Monday.

That's an 81 percent drop from a year ago, when 63 firms raised nearly $8.5 billion. It was also a decline from the preceding quarter, when 27 funds raised almost $2 billion.

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Earlier this month at the Mass Tech Leadership Council's Innovation Unconference, I helped lead a session called "How Do We Turbo-Charge the Culture of Entrepreneurship in Massachusetts?" It attracted a room full of about 35 people.

I believe, as you may know, that there is a cultural revolution happening here, and that there are two kinds of people in our region's innovation economy:

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Most angel investors dream of home-run exits, funneling seed capital into young start-ups with hopes they’ll turn into Google, YouTube or even Mint.com. But the Band of Angels, an angel group flush with its third fund, believes there’s mighty value in later-stage companies and smaller acquisition prices.

“Sure, everyone is talking about the sale of Mint.com,” said Ian Sobieski, a founder and managing director of Band of Angels, referring to Mint Software Inc.’s recent $170 million sale to Intuit Inc. “But if my buddy can sell his company for $12 million, $15 million without too much dilution, that’s pretty good.”

 

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Strengthening Europe’s Innovation Performance

Brussels: 12 to 14 October 2009

The 1 st European Innovation Summit is underway at the European Parliament. The summit has been organised by the Knoweldge4Innovation (K4I) – The Lisbon Forum.

 

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BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Venture-capital firms raised the smallest number of funds in 15 years in the third quarter, weighed down by the credit crisis.

Firms raised 17 funds, the same number as in the third quarter of 1994, according to a report by the National Venture Capital Association and Thompson Reuters(TRI Quote). Venture-capital firms gathered $1.6 billion, the least since the first quarter of 2003, when they managed to raise only $938 million. So far in 2009, firms have collected $8.4 billion, compared with $28.6 billion for all of 2008.

"Many limited partners are still determining their long-term strategies in the wake of the past year's financial crisis, and that slows the process down considerably," said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA, in a statement. "We expect commitment levels to remain modest for the remainder of 2009, with gradual increases beginning in 2010."

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The University of Michigan is among the nation's leaders in creating startup ventures based on university technology. To build on that success, UM technology transfer officials have created the new Michigan Venture Center, a one-stop hub for entrepreneurs, investors and faculty inventors.

The center will help faculty inventors create business plans, assess a technology's commercialization potential, deal with intellectual property issues, attract investors, and acquire gap funding to enhance the market appeal of a new technology.

 

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In a classic episode of “The Simpsons,” the owner of convenience store Kwik-E-Mart, Apu, is being held up at gunpoint and shouts to a policeman in the store for help. The cop, Chief Wiggum, retorts, “Hey, I got problems of my own right now,” as his tie is pulled slowly into a hot dog rotating machine.

”Oh boy, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” Chief Wiggum dejectedly declares.

I couldn’t help but think of that line this morning while listening to several veteran venture capitalists discuss the unsettling state of the venture industry in front of dozens of hopeful start-up CEOs at today’s VentureWire Technology Showcase.

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Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- House Democrats plan a renewed push to raise taxes on executives at private-equity and venture- capital firms to help pay for year-end economic recovery legislation, a top congressional aide said.

Matthew Beck, a spokesman for the House Ways and Means Committee, said the panel will revive an effort to raise the 15 percent tax rate on “carried interest,” a term for the share of a fund’s profit that is paid as compensation to executives.

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Abu Dhabi, UAE - Growing businesses in a complex environment, leading enterprises to innovate and using technology for innovation were the key themes of discussion at Frost & Sullivan's flagship event -GIL 2009: Middle East- Growth, Innovation and Leadership: A Frost & Sullivan Global Congress on Corporate Growth. Held on 7th October 2009 at Hotel Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi, UAE for the first time in the Middle East, the Congress saw attendance from senior dignitaries across industries at a single venue.

The highlight of the Congress was its keynote presentation, 'The CEO's Perspective on Growth in a Complex Business Environment' by David Frigstad, Chairman, Frost & Sullivan. Elaborating on the CEO's perspective of growth, Frigstad said, "Now more than ever, CEOs need a 360-degree overview of the business for making decisions. Through this powerful Congress, Frost & Sullivan offers insights to grow and sustain business in the current economic environment, seize opportunities for networking and forge new partnerships."

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