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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 policies coming out of Washington are changing faster than we have time to digest them.

President Obama proposes to allocate $30 billion of unspent stimulus money to support lending to small businesses. This is a nice gesture, but small business needs equity, too.

And although small businesses certainly need access to credit, borrowing is not a good way to start a business from scratch.

Obama also proposed eliminating capital gains tax on the sale of small businesses. This also is good, but many small businesses won’t be for sale anytime soon, so it’s a moot point.

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WhatsnextIn Washington, the Biotechnology Industry Organization followed up on a shift in US biofuels policy with a call for four new steps it said would increase the pace of biofuels commercialization.

BIO called for:

• Revising the risk assessment process for advanced biofuels projects in the current Department of Energy loan guarantee program;
• Double funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to deploy cellulosic feedstocks; include eligibility for value-added biobased materials, products and chemicals;
• Funding the reverse auction for cellulosic biofuels already incorporated in law;
• Funding development and deployment programs for biobased products and renewable specialty chemicals.

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In Part 1 of the interview, Rob Delman, managing director of Golden Seeds New York, told us the benefits of investing in women-led ventures, shared his lessons learned and pointed out a critical term in a term sheet that many might have overlooked. Today, Delman the “Golden Dude” talks more about due diligence, an area many beginning angels are puzzled about.

Delman was the president of Delco International Ltd., a US$76 million manufacturing and distribution company of tableware products for the food service and transportation industries. In 2000, Delman sold the company to Oneida Ltd., the world’s largest producer of tableware products. Since then, he’s become an active angel investor investing in high-potential companies.

Read more ... Obama Administration’s Commitment to Building Advanced Biorefineries Can Create Green Jobs and Economic Growth with Additional Action

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Additional Congressional action is needed to follow through on the Obama administration’s recently announced initiative to rapidly build an integrated value chain for the bioeconomy, create jobs and kick start economic growth. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today released proposed policy options that provide needed incentives to support U.S. job growth incentivizing commercial scale biorefinery projects for production of advanced biofuels, biobased products and renewable specialty chemicals.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, stated, “The economic recession created an extra hurdle for companies trying to build biorefineries for advanced biofuels and value-added biobased products. Industrial biotechnology solutions for advanced biofuels are ready, and companies have achieved significant successes in achieving research and development goals. Given the current economic climate, what is needed now is significant capital investment.

“The Obama administration correctly recognizes that large-scale production of advanced biofuels can be a significant driver of green job creation, energy security and greenhouse gas reductions. We applaud the policy initiatives announced yesterday, which call for federal coordination of programs to help integrate the complete biofuel value chain. This is a good first step in helping to stimulate the private investment needed to build new biorefineries. However, more needs to be done to de-risk investment in new technologies so that they can scale up to meet national goals. Congress can take action to ensure that these programs are adequately funded and targeted so that the effort will stimulate additional private capital investment.”

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Microsoft losing its ability to innovate?Microsoft defends itself against innovation claims: Microsoft has hit back at an article written by a former vice-president that argues that the company has lost its edge in innovation and risks business failure as a result. The former executive, Dick Brass, who worked at Microsoft until 2004, wrote in The New York Times that Microsoft had become a “clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are lampooned, often unfairly but sometimes with good reason.” But Microsoft vice-president of communications Frank Shaw has hit back, saying: “For Microsoft, it is not sufficient to simply have a good idea, or a great idea, or even a cool idea. We measure our work by its broad impact.” [The New York Times] [PC World] [Microsoft blog]

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altGeorgia Tech and the Consulate General of France in Atlanta are joining forces on a project designed to foster new partnerships between France and the Southeast and new economic innovation.

A formal presentation is scheduled for Feb. 3 on Georgia Tech’s campus to potential sponsors interested in supporting the planned series of events slated for later this year. The joint project will be called “France-Atlanta: Together Towards Innovation,” and will include a focus on scientific research advances, clean energy, transportation, logistics and access to highly qualified workforces. Cultural performances and exhibitions also are planned.

Plans also call for the creation of a new research institute which would operate in conjunction with the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus in Metz, France.

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Apple isn't the only tech company stuffed to the gills with cash, with $39.8 billion in cash and short and long term securities.

Google has $24.6 billion in cash and investments. Microsoft has billions more than Google, with $40.4 billion. Intel has $18.9 billion on hand, which, by these standards, is paltry.

As Microsoft, Apple, and Google go to war in mobile, search, and on the desktop, expect to see more of this cash deployed through acquisitions. (And one of these days, one of these companies may actually buy something big.)

chart apple google microsoft cash
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1999_pirates_of_silicon_valley_stevevsbillA few months back, I noticed a bunch of folks tweeting about the 1999 made-for-TV-movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley.” I remember hearing about the movie just as I was moving to Silicon Valley that year, but never got around to watching it. I had heard mixed things about the movie, and its accuracy, but the tweets seemed pretty positive, so I decided to rent it and see for myself.

It exceeded my tremendously low expectations. Though as far as factual accuracy, it’s hard to say where truth ends and creative license takes over. The movie hits some of the high points of the emerging battle between Microsoft and Apple as told through the stories of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And narrated by their wingmen: Steve Wozniak and Steve Ballmer.

There’s an amusing scene, about 20 minutes in when Wozniak and Jobs walk out of the famed Homebrew Club in 1976, having triumphantly demonstrated a version of their personal computer:

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GlaxoSmithKline - GSKIn January, GlaxoSmithKline announced a series of initiatives for developing new medicines to combat diseases that disproportionately affect the world's poorest countries. The initiatives, which comprise GSK's "open innovation" strategy, were outlined in a speech given by GSK Chief Executive Andrew Witty to the Council on Foreign Relations on January 20th. These initiatives include:

• Making more than 13,500 malaria compounds freely available;
• Establishing new collaborations for sharing IP for treating neglected tropical diseases;
• Pledging to create a sustainable pricing model for a malaria candidate vaccine;
• Providing $8 million in seed funding for an "open lab"; and
• Awarding African Malaria Partnership grants totaling $2.5 million.

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Photo Credit: Maye Webb AS they marvel at Apple’s new iPad tablet computer, the technorati seem to be focusing on where this leaves Amazon’s popular e-book business. But the much more important question is why Microsoft, America’s most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future, whether it’s tablet computers like the iPad, e-books like Amazon’s Kindle, smartphones like the BlackBerry and iPhone, search engines like Google, digital music systems like iPod and iTunes or popular Web services like Facebook and Twitter.

Some people take joy in Microsoft’s struggles, as the popular view in recent years paints the company as an unrepentant intentional monopolist. Good riddance if it fails. But those of us who worked there know it differently. At worst, you can say it’s a highly repentant, largely accidental monopolist. It employs thousands of the smartest, most capable engineers in the world. More than any other firm, it made using computers both ubiquitous and affordable. Microsoft’s Windows operating system and Office applications suite still utterly rule their markets.

The company’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, has continued to deliver huge profits. They totaled well over $100 billion in the past 10 years alone and help sustain the economies of Seattle, Washington State and the nation as a whole. Its founder, Bill Gates, is not only the most generous philanthropist in history, but has also inspired thousands of his employees to give generously themselves. No one in his right mind should wish Microsoft failure.

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Gov. Jennifer GranholmGov. Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday laid out initiatives to help entrepreneurs and small businesses, making them a key focus of an address shepherding in her final year in office.

In her eighth State of the State address touching on a variety of economic development and job-creating efforts designed to lay a new foundation for the state, Granholm announced plans to spur small business development in the state, through expanded entrepreneurship training, improved access to capital, and revamped tax credits for investors that provide seed money to budding ventures.

“She has coalesced around, as we have been talking about for a long time, the issue of where jobs really come from. And that is small business,” said Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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BusinessWeek Logo Venture capitalist Jim Breyer has seen a global change over the past decade in the entrepreneurs seeking financial backing and the investors willing to risk money to develop their ideas.

In 2000, Breyer and all the other investing partners in the venture capital firm Accel Partners were "100 percent" based in the United States.

"Today 33 percent of our investing partners are based in the United States," he said."We have seven partners in China, we have four in India, we have four in London, with the rest of the investing partners based in Palo Alto, Calif.," where the firm is headquartered.

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UnLearning in ProgressOne of the reasons why many startups fail to cross the chasm is founder’s ability to unlearn and relearn.

If you have been working in corporate world, you were used to certain ways of conducting business, a certain respect that you commanded in the industry (especially with vendors).

And the moment you step out of your designation, you lose all of the softer perks associated with the designation.

When you start-up, you again have to build the same level of credibility – you were earlier respected as ‘Engineering Manager @ BIG firm’ and now, you need to build credibility as ‘Founder of an unknown company’.

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The University of North Carolina (UNC) believes it has come up with the Holy Grail of technology transfer - a standard license fee scheme in which one set of terms can be used for any deal, bypassing lengthy negotiations and getting the technology out of the lab more quickly.

Licensing schemes for transferring technology are the bane of university technology licensing officers and their corporate partners alike, with most licenses requiring their own special terms.

There have been earlier efforts, like the TurboNegotiator software developed by the US University-Industry Demonstration Partnership. The programme aims to help universities and industry quickly identify areas of agreement and areas that still need work, speeding the negotiating process.

Meanwhile, the Kauffman Foundation Experts’ Solution for University Technology Licensing Reform has argued that university technology licensing offices have, over time, become monopolies that slow commercialisation. It recommended that faculty choose their own licensing agents, saying the increased competition would speed up commercialisation of new technologies, while at the same time allowing universities to collect the same royalties as they do under the current system.

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The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors approved the investment of $599,800 in support of regional economic development. The investments are with seven early-stage technology companies and two established manufacturers.

BFTP/NEP’s goal is to help lead northeastern Pennsylvania to a better economic future by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for competitive advantage. To achieve this goal, Center staff concentrate their efforts on three key areas:

1. developing early-stage technology-oriented companies,
2. helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership, and
3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

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USTAR is publishing a new kind of annual report, one that’s in “bite-sized” pieces you might have time to read. We’ll be adding chapters over the next few weeks. Today’s edition covers the USTAR Technology Outreach and Innovation Program.

163 companies assisted. $9.73 million in capital raised.

The Technology Outreach program aims to expand the benefit of USTAR beyond the major research universities to the entire state. In 2009, Technology Outreach worked with 163 companies in 18 counties to help them connect with university research and expand their businesses. In particular, early stage technology companies face a challenge finding capital investment. Even in a tough investing climate, USTAR helped innovation-based startups secure $9.73 million in 2009

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Let's face it. Executives are under a lot of pressure to follow the latest management trends.

Columbia business school professor Eric Abrahamson, who has written about the diffusion of managerial innovations, calls this the "norm of progressivity": the expectation that you either follow the latest management innovations — even if they later prove misguided — or suffer a diminished reputation among your peers, the press, and your shareholders.

Thus it's little surprise that nearly every company now has some sort of experiment or program relating to open innovation. Open innovation means reaching out to take advantage of talent beyond the firm (or responding to such outreach opportunities). It's a terrific concept, borne out by several oft-repeated examples such as InnoCentive and GoldCorp.

But are companies, with all their good intentions, getting the most from open innovation? We suspect that the initial successes, encouraging as they are, represent only the beginning. What if open innovation were defined more broadly and more ambitiously? Could even greater value be realized? If so, what would the next wave of open innovation look like?

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BRUSSELS, February 4 /PRNewswire/ --


A new website goes live today that provides a forum for a much-needed debate around the role of private equity and venture capital in the real economy.

The site is part of a campaign by the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association "EVCA" ( to encourage an informed discussion about the real role of the asset class within Europe.

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Mplayit, maker of the mobile app catalog that lives inside Facebook, will release a report later today that lists the top games in their collection. Tetris, The Sims 3, and Wheel of Fortune are among the winners. So are Tap Tap Revenge and Rock Band.

On Mplayit, users can rate, comment, and recommend individual apps to their social network on Facebook and Twitter. They can browse friends’ app collections, and follow their interests.

The most interesting stat in the report is that while games account for only one in five of the 130,000 iPhone apps at Mplayit, they’re half the traffic. By contrast, games are only 30 percent of BlackBerry traffic and 20 percent of Android.

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US infantary in AfghanistanNot previously known as a driving force for green developments, the US Department of Defense (DoD) is increasingly looking for renewable energy technologies for use on its bases.

The Department has established programmes to help find and develop technologies from the private sector for its use.

The move is part of an overhaul of the DoD's energy use, announced in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report, published this month.

"The Department will… speed innovative energy and conservation technologies from laboratories to military end users. The Environmental Security and Technology Certification Program uses military installations as a testbed to demonstrate and create a market for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies coming out of the private sector and DoD and Department of Energy laboratories… The Department is improving small-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at military installations through our Energy Conservation Investment Program," says the QDR Report.

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