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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.

EurActiv Logo EU countries want to open the debate about increasing funds for low-carbon technologies in the next EU budget for 2013-19, but they are not willing to make any concrete commitments at this stage, shows a draft paper discussed by national experts on Wednesday (26 January).

The draft paper is member states' response to a European Commission proposal to finance the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan, presented in October last year (EurActiv 07/10/09).

The plan called for the EU's energy research budget to be increased by €50 billion over the next ten years, requiring yearly public and private investment to almost triple.
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Previously known as Innovation and Economic Development Sherbrooke – IDES, an IASP Full member in Sherbrooke, Canada, has unveiled their strategic plan of action and new name: SHERBROOKE INNOPOLE.

The announcement was made on 8th January by Executive Director Mr. Pierre Bélanger, who was accompanied by Luce Samoisette, Rector of Sherbrooke University, Sherbrooke city councillors, directors of the former IDES, and regional economic leaders.

According to Mr. Bélanger, the new name reflects the positioning sought for Sherbrooke better, clearly identifying it as a city of innovation. The new name is but one element in a larger action strategy to ensure Sherbrooke’s development efforts. Other aspects of the action plan include a new communications strategy, including the development of a new website using Web 2.0 technologies that will be launched next June, and new cooperation tools between the city and the main institutions forming the University Cluster.

We congratulate our colleagues and look forward to hearing about further progress and achievements at Sherbrooke Innopole.

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GP_Episode_10_largeThe Chinese government will be sinking $7.3 billion into the creation of a cleaner, more energy efficient Smart Grid in 2010, actually beating out the U.S.’s investment in the same area by more than $200 million, and rising to the top of the global list of Smart Grid leaders.

The news indicates how Asia’s largest country is getting serious about distributed energy generation, renewable sources like solar and wind, and transmission inefficiencies — all of which a more developed Smart Grid would tie together. It has become such a priority there, that China is actually spending more on grid improvements than it will on power generation projects. This is a major turnabout for the nation, which has been growing its energy infrastructure as fast as it can to promote economic growth.

Still, the sum committed to building a smarter grid may not be enough. Last year, Bloomberg released a report recommending that the country invest $10 billion a year at least for the next decade in order to successfully deploy smart meters, demand response programs, and home energy management systems.
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changeAs we’ve struggled with low conversion numbers at The Cost Savings Guy (CSG), it has become increasingly clear that our biggest problem is site design.change

We purposely created CSG with multiple ways to enter potential areas of interest and just as many to demonstrate the site’s value. While this made sense to us as designers, it doesn’t seem to have had the same effect on site visitors – and I’ve concluded that it’s not the way to build sales.

Even though users engage with the service, this design flaw seemingly prevents them from moving through the complete process – to the point where a sale occurs. We lose numerous prospects every day.
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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appropriated $7.2 billion and directed the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S., increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.  The mission is carried out through two programs:

  • RUS’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) - will make loans and grants for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas.
  • NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) - will provide grants to fund broadband infrastructure, public computer centers and sustainable broadband adoption projects.
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Webcast live from DavosToday, I am following the technology track at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

At this morning's Technology Pioneers breakfast, the technologists attending the World Economic Forum discussed how successful technology startups must be flexible--how, whatever they thought they were at their founding, such companies change as their customers use their products and they come to understand the business models that will support their business. (An idea close to my heart.) We discussed the different "exits" currently possible for a startup, other than an initial public offering or an acquisition. (One founder of a popular online video platform company suggested that a company with a particularly rich cash flow could repurchase the shares of its investors, and essentially "go private.")
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speed2I was catching up over breakfast with a friend who’s now CEO of his own startup. One of the things he mentioned was that when it came to decision-making he still tended to think and act like an engineer. Each and every decision he made was carefully thought through and weighed. And he recognized it was making his startup feel and act like a big ponderous company.speed2

General George Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.” The same is true in start-ups.

Most decisions entrepreneurs handle must be made in the face of uncertainty. Since every situation is unique, there is no perfect solution to any engineering, customer or competitor problem – and you shouldn’t agonize over trying to find one.
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Would-be entrepreneurs can test their mettle through a new online learning program developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and a partner.

In conjunction with The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, an Ohio-based company that develops multimedia online education programs, the Kauffman Foundation is offering “Mindset: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial IQ.”

The program “provides an inside look at what it really takes to start and grow a successful new business,” according to a Wednesday release from the foundation.
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"The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to extend the SBIR program for another 90 days. The program had been set to expire on Jan. 31, 2010, but the new continuing resolution now pushes the expiration date back to April 30. The Senate is also expected to pass this legislation in short order.

This is the sixth CR passed since the SBIR program was originally up for expiration in 2008. Although reauthorization bills have been passed in the House and the Senate, the language in the two bills was very different, and the two Chambers have so far been unable to reconcile the differences in the two bills into a single bill that can be sent to the President for his signature.

While we are happy that Congress has not allowed this important program to lapse, it is important that the two sides can reach an agreement this year, before the new Congress starts next year and this process will have to start all over again.

SBTC has endorsed the Senate’s language as an acceptable compromise, and urges the House to do so as well."

Keep tuned to for updates.

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s proposals BusinessWeek Logo for aiding small business in his State of the Union address fail to touch on innovation, said economist Edmunds Phelps, winner of the Novel Prize in economics in 2006.

“All those Ma and Pa grocery stores are not innovating that much,” Phelps, a professor at Columbia University in New York, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Radio from the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland.

In last night’s address to a joint session of Congress, Obama proposed tax credits for small businesses and the elimination of capital gains levies on small business investment.
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There are dazzling technologies at work in the world of transportation, from real-time traffic information delivered in-vehicle or to cell phones, to computerized adaptive traffic signal lights, to enabling vehicles to communicate with roadside infrastructure or other vehicles. Unfortunately, the United States is lagging behind many nations when it comes to making the promise of these technologies a reality for its citizens.  A new ITIF report analyses how countries have deployed ITS, why the United States lags behind the world leaders, and urges expanded federal leadership and investment to get the United States onto the road to deploying Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

The report, "Explaining International IT Application Leadership: Intelligent Transportation Systems," takes a detailed look at how Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other countries apply information technologies to alleviate congestion, enhance safety, and reduce the environmental impact of transportation. 

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WSJMany venture investors are expecting the pace to pick up in 2010, with more money flowing into more deals. But it’s hardly going to be a funding free-for-all, and entrepreneurs making their pitches must avoid some of the mistakes that raise red flags in the minds of investors.

So said three prominent Silicon Valley VCs – Ryan Sweeney of Accel Partners, Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Winston Fu of US Venture Partners – at a breakfast event Tuesday hosted by law firm Pillsbury Winthrop and auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers.

One common mistake, Fu and Winblad agreed, is pitching a new company as the certain target of an acquisition by a larger company – as opposed to being one that can stand on its own.
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The UK government has taken the first step in plans to establish a Life Sciences Super Cluster that will pioneer a new approach to collaboration between industry and the public sector, announcing a £1 million pilot to test the proposal.

The overall aim is to speed up the translation of research into healthcare products and services and attract further investment in the sector as a whole.

At the heart of the cluster will be a series of “Therapeutic Capability” sub-clusters, made up of a small number of academic and National Health Service centres that will provide a point of contact and focus for collaboration with industry in specific disease areas.
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Joe Wallin and Brian Todd: President Obama has proposed eliminating the capital gains tax on qualified small business stock. This has been a theme of the President’s for some time, but perhaps significantly he reiterated it in his State of the Union Speech last night. Again, he doesn’t quit.

As startup company and tax lawyers, we believe that eliminating the capital gains tax on qualified small business stock held for more than five years would create a literal flood of investments into startup companies, which would create jobs and future prosperity.

Why? Because reducing the capital tax rate to zero makes investing in startups tax free, and investors like tax favored investments. And a zero capital gains tax rate is an absolutely screaming deal.
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"…what really grinds the gears of small business owners is the near-complete inattention by lawmakers on who creates jobs.”
So said Kimble Fletcher Ainslie in a Cato Institute article from December 20, 2001 titled “Bush Ignores Small Business.”

Eight years later under a different president, Catherine Clifford’s article in on September 30, 2009 continued the criticism of lawmakers ignoring small business:
“Business owners really bring out the pitchforks when they consider the speed with which billions of dollars were distributed to large Wall Street firms and banks. That is what sticks in the small business owner’s throat more than anything…”
Banks received $700 billion dollars in handouts in October 2008, with almost no regulations or restrictions. In February 2009, big businesses and big state governments received $787 billion, an incomprehensible $1.5 trillion total dollars. General Motors alone received $30 billion dollars when they would not have qualified for a credit card. This is a big problem if you’re trying to solve a crisis.
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TMassDevicehe Mass. Life Sciences Center will begin accepting applications Feb. 1 for matching grants of up to $500,000 for companies that have received Phase II or post-Phase II SBIR grants.
Mass Life Sciences Center logo

The Mass. Life Sciences Center will begin accepting applications for a $3 million matching grant program aimed at helping small life science companies that are production-ready and "poised for rapid growth that will create jobs in the Commonwealth."

The quasi-public agency said it will provide matching grants of up to $500,000 to companies that have received Phase II or post-Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) or small business technology transfer (STTR) grants from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation or the Dept. of Defense.
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EvAustralia Day Ant Australian Innovation Policy... Where the bloody hell are you?ery government will say its ‘commitment to innovation’ is second-to-none.

Every government will jump at the chance to demonstrate this ‘commitment’, citing numerous initiatives that invariably trump those of the administration that came before it.

This is because the effects of policy on innovation are extremely hard to measure and because ‘innovation’ as a concept (for the purpose of fuelling economic growth) is likely to attract about as many critics as CEO pay cuts (i.e. none).
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Nike Considered BootSince 2007, Nike has reduced the emissions produced by its facilities nearly 15%. The company made a conscious decision to stop focusing on purchasing renewable energy certificates and start focusing on managing actual reductions. This has taken Nike's 2009 energy footprint back down to 2007 levels.

The company's report says that because of resource constraints, innovation is used as a driver to conserve resources and increase efficiency and recycling--so Nike's thoughts about sustainability start with design. Their concept, Considered Design, forces them to consider new materials and approaches that may help them design out unnecessary waste, chemicals, and energy.

The company had previously pledged to use more environmentally preferred materials in both footwear and apparel--it wanted to increase use in footwear by 22% by 2011, and achieved that goal in 2008. The company's goal of using 20% environmentally preferred materials in apparel by 2015 is on track, currently at 6.6% (up 57% from 2008).
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I [Don Tapscott] mentioned in an earlier post that Davos can be a catalyst for great ideas, and one example is the GreenXchange conceived by Nike. This morning the company formally launched the Xchange at a CEO breakfast in Davos.

The venue was a conscripted hairdressing salon that was pressed into service by the Forum as a meeting space. We were like sardines. But the energy in the tiny room was high.

To recap: The Xchange is a Web-based marketplace where companies can collaborate and share intellectual property which can lead to new sustainability business models and innovation. Ten organizations have already signed on. The Xchange is the first step in a journey towards more sustainable innovation, and the more companies that get on board, the faster we’ll all make progress. More info can be found at
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Kettering University’s cutting-edge approach to educating for innovation and entrepreneurship has received a national award as ‘Best in Class” for teaching students how to become innovators. The award was presented by the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) during its winter convention in Orlando. Kettering Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Harris accepted the award during ceremonies.

We share a vision on our campus to become the nation’s model for the preparation of innovative engineers, scientists and business leaders. Our philosophy of Entrepreneurship Across The Curriculum incorporates innovation, entrepreneurial concepts, attitude and understanding throughout the many courses a student takes. This is a defining paradigm that sets us apart. This ‘Best in Class’ award is a distinguished recognition of the vision, creativity and hard work of many that is evolving at Kettering University.”

Kettering President Stan Liberty said the University is honored to be singled out for this award, especially among the prestigious institutions in the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network. "The Kern philosophy is based on excellence in customer awareness, business acumen, societal values and technical fundamentals." President Liberty thanked Provost Harris for leading this valuable initiative that will have a long-term impact.
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