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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.

Oct 23, 2009 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- SBCOE | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- (Washington, DC)- U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen has cosponsored the Small Business Access to Capital Act (S. 1832), which would further enable refinancing through the 504 loan program and increase the limit of small business loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). These provisions will help improve access to much-needed capital for small business owners.

"Small businesses create jobs and stimulate local economies, and, in New Hampshire, small businesses are the engine of the state's economy," said Shaheen. "To end the recession, it is essential that we provide small business owners the capital they need so that they can keep their doors open, hire more employees and grow their businesses in the very difficult economic environment."

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SAN FRANCISCO — Companies big and small monitor Twitter to find out what their customers like and what they want changed. Twitter does the same.

It started two years ago as a bare-bones service, offering little more than the ability to post 140-character messages. Then, it outsourced its idea generation to its users. The company watches how people use the service and which ideas catch on. Then its engineers turn the ideas into new features.

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Infosys co-founder and chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy sold company shares worth around US$37mn to set up a venture capital fund for incubating Indian start-ups. Murthy will use the money as seed capital for a venture capital fund which he plans to set up in India. A statement issued by Infosys said that the proposed venture capital fund would encourage and support young entrepreneurs having brilliant business ideas. "The fund will primarily invest in India and may, on a case-to-case basis, consider investing overseas," Infosys said. In a statement issued to the stock exchanges on Thursday, Infosys said that Murthy had sold eight lakh shares, some 0.13% of the company's equity capital, on October 21 and October 22, raising around Rs1.74bn. After the transactions, Murthy holds 2.38mn shares in Infosys.

 

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Representative Glenn Nye (D-VA) has introduced H.R. 3738, the "Small Business Early-Stage Investment Act of 2009," to create an early-state investment program to provide financing to support small businesses in targeted industries, e.g., energy technology, clean technology and environmental technology.

The bill would authorize $250 million to create a program within the Small Business Administration, with grants to be distributed through the existing venture capital network. Qualifying for a grant under the program requires:

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Volkswagen is taking great strides in making the roads safer and remove the dangerous fun from driving by developing fully autonomous vehicles. I had a chance to talk to Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, director of the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) about the future of the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL) at Stanford University and how the technology developed there is being integrated into Volkswagen Group vehicles. You may be able to buy a real-life K.I.T.T before you know it. It probably won’t be a Pontiac though.

You may recall that Volkswagen was the first team to complete the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005 by having a fully autonomous Volkswagen Touareg SUV (his name was Stanley, btw) drive 132 miles through the Mojave Desert. Then for the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, a VW Passat Wagon took second place behind Tartan Racing team from Carnegie Mellon University in a 60 mile urban course. But those two challenges are nothing compared to what’s on tap for next year: Pikes Peak in an autonomous Audi TT-S.

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According to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) latest data, federal research and development (R&D) obligations to U.S. colleges and universities failed to keep pace with inflation between FY 2003 and FY 2007, the latest year for which data were available. "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: FY 2007" found that R&D obligations increased 11.1 percent over the period, while inflation rose 12.7 percent.

NSF annually surveys the 19 federal agencies that account for almost all federal R&D obligations, defined as "the amounts for orders, placed, contracts awarded, services received, and similar transactions during a given period, regardless of when the funds were appropriated and when future payment of money is required." This differs from expenditures, which are actual outlays of money spent.

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Top IBM officials met recently with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to disclose the company’s plans to extend existing investment in the country, which includes several global delivery centers.

Officials who made the courtesy call to the chief executive included IBM ASEAN general manager Cordelia Chung, vice president for governmental programs, growth market unit Stephen Braim, human resource delivery executive for Asia Pacific Renato Jiao, and country general manager James Velasquez.

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As President Obama’s pay czar prepares to slash the salaries of top CEO’s who received government bailouts, President Obama said it is time to start working with small businesses. The President has not been without his fair share of critics when it comes to the lack of resources provided for small business owners and he pledged more help is on the way. In today’s weekly address President Obama stated that small business owners are the segment of America that embodies the American dream.

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- They were two MBA graduates short on cash but big on dreams: They wanted to take on a major corporation that controlled 89 percent of the pet insurance market.

Laura Bennett and Alex Krooglik didn't let the competition deter them. They formed Embrace Pet Insurance and started selling policies online 21/2 years ago. Now, PetInsuranceReview.com ranks Embrace as the No. 2 company in its field for customer service, beating out several larger companies.

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The founders of the large web properties of Web 1.0 are all gone now save one. Yahoo!’s (NASDAQ:YHOO) chief Yahoo!s have very little to do with the company, although one of them, Jerry Yang, made a brief and troubled attempt to run the company recently. The founders of eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and AOL retired a long time ago. Many of the websites that were among the most visited in the US a decade ago have disappeared since Jeff Bezos created Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) in 1994. Lycos, Excite, Altavista, Infoseek, and Switchboard have either disappeared or are tiny players among the new elite group of Web 2.0 firms which includes Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Part of the power of Amazon, which posted unexpectedly strong earnings up 69% over last year for the third quarter, is that it is fundamentally what it was the day it started—an e-commerce site. It sold books in its earliest days and helped usher in the demise of book stores and book store chains. The core of Amazon’s business has expanded to selling an immense range of products online from consumer electronics to groceries and clothing and gardening tools.

 

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