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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.

Wonderful World Of Web 2.0 - The Web 2.0 Summit is in full swing and already generated a bit of news in its first day - if you consider anything a Twitter executive says as news. While CEO Evan Williams disappointed bloggers once again by stopping short of disclosing any revenue models, he did say he “deperately” wants to rid of Twitter’s “suggested user” list, which offers suggestions on which users to follow. The list was launched last year and includes a wealth of celebrities, social media stars and brand-name companies who have benefited greatly by attracting thousands of users. Instead, Williams said, he’s looking to replace that list with a feature that will let people build their own lists of users to follow. Also at Web 2.0, Morgan Stanley’s Mary Meeker claimed the economy is improving and projected a coming mobile boom (see her presentation here), General Electric chief Jeff Immelt unveiled a handheld ultrasound machine, PayPal revealed it’s embracing outside developers, and Mark Pincus of social-gaming company Zynga predicted we’ll see an economy built around social-media apps.

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For the San Diego Zoo, the long-standing model of funding conservation research and educational initiatives from entertainment revenues (tickets, food, and merchandise) and donations couldn't be maintained- -- attendance simply wouldn't rise as fast as the costs of maintaining a 2,000-person enterprise. The zoo had to innovate -- and it has.

Case Study: Using Innovation for Growth

The Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Imperial College London, has been honoured with a top prize for innovation at the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2009. The Institute was named overall winner in the category of "Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology". The awards were announced at a gala ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Thursday 15th October.

Now in their fifth year, the Times Higher Education Awards are the leading awards for the higher education sector, created to recognise, celebrate and reward the highest standards of excellence and talent in UK academia. This year the awards attracted over 600 entries from more than 130 higher education institutions.

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Venture capital funding fell 42% through the third quarter compared with last year, as investors remained cautious of making new deals and limited partners scaled back commitments to the asset class.

But some established venture firms still have plenty of firepower to make investments, as evidenced by the following list from Dow Jones VentureSource of this year’s most active investors.

 

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Affordable public housing. Quality schools. Safe neighborhoods. Clean streets. Inexpensive mass transit. There’s no shortage of challenges facing American cities. But there is an innovative new way to go about solving them: open innovation. Last week we announced our “Empowering American Cities” initiative, in which we invite city governments to post a Challenge on our Innovation Marketplace, where it can be addressed by our global community of more than 180,000 scientists, inventors, engineers, researchers, and business people who thrive on solving the world’s toughest problems.

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Commercialization partners and investment are now needed for new technologies, which have been government supported by Enterprise Ireland.

An eternal lantern powered by the sun, an energy efficient radiator, and membrane technology that uses carbon nanotubes are a few cleantech innovations being spun out of the world’s 43rd top university.

Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin showcased 15 of its newest technologies last week, with a handful falling under the cleantech sector, that are now ready for commercialization, Graham McMullin told the Cleantech Group today. McMullin is a case manager for physical sciences within Trinity’s technology transfer office.

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One of the most misunderstood topics about entrepreneurship is job creation. The prevailing wisdom is that new businesses create jobs primarily because newly formed companies tend to grow over time.

This misperception comes from how people typically look at the data on new businesses. In general, observers look at the number of people employed at the average new firm and compare that to the number of people employed at the average firm that is, say, six years old.

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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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