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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.

trowe.jpgJust two weeks after marking its 10th anniversary last month, the Cambridge Innovation Center signed a new 10-year lease with MIT that will see it almost double in size by this summer. Founder and CEO Tim Rowe says he's adding 57,000 square feet of new space, bringing his total footprint in the building at One Broadway in Kendall Square to 122,000 square feet.

Already, CIC is the largest collection of start-up companies under one roof on the East Coast, with 240 tenants. Rowe says nearly 20 companies are on a waiting list for space in the building: "We're bursting at the seams."

As for expanding at a time when so much commercial real estate is sitting fallow, Rowe says that "people like to cluster" in spaces like CIC that bring together start-ups, mid-sized companies, and service providers like venture capital firms and attorneys. He also makes the case that when the costs of managing copiers, printers, phone systems, and Internet access are considered, the per-employee cost of being at CIC (about $1100 per person, on average) is actually more affordable than renting a traditional office on the Cambridge market.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The kids at Piedmont Elementary School have a new cheer these days.

It goes, "Piedmont rocks, we are an innovation zone! Bring your kids here and they won't go home!"

Students are stepping into the "Innovation Zone." It's a catchy name for a new way of doing the same old school stuff and it's unique to each school that is taking part.

Nineteen schools across the state of West Virginia are a part of this project. It allows schools to sidestep state law and do what works best for their own school.
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Recently departed Delta Dental president James Epolito said today that he might open a venture capital firm or business incubator in a building he owns in downtown Lansing that would focus on launching biotech, health care and Internet technology start-ups.

Epolito, the former head of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. from 2005 to spring 2009 when he took the Delta job, said that he left Delta Jan. 6 because, among other things, he was not able to indulge in his entrepreneurial cravings.
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The Great Firewall of China is hardly impregnable.

Just as Mongol invaders could not be stopped by the Great Wall, Chinese citizens have found ways to circumvent the sophisticated Internet censorship systems designed to restrict them.

They are using a variety of tools to evade government filters and to reach the wide-open Web that the Chinese government deems dangerous — sites like YouTube, Facebook and, if Google makes good on its threat to withdraw from China,
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1. Why do you believe that Malaysia can succeed in biotechnology? – Casey Chin, Setapak

Malaysia’s biodiversity, our progress in agriculture, manufacturing and services as well as our human capital development are key factors for success in biotechnology. Malaysia is biodiverse on a mega scale; we are placed seventh in terms of biodiversity on a global scale.

This means the potential for beneficial compounds derived from our forests, rivers, lakes and the sea around us is far from fully discovered, researched and commercialised.
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Reports of venture capital’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Not a day goes by without a commentator reading the VC industry its last rites. And many of the gloomiest prognostications come from those inside the industry. A recent survey found that 53% of VC respondents felt the industry was broken.

It’s too easy and lazy (and self-serving for some) to claim the VC model as broken. Nineties nostalgia recalls VC as an investment strategy played on Lake Wobegon, where the sun always shined, all portfolio companies were above average, prices always moved higher and everyone came away a winner.

This was a blip in a cottage industry still in its formative years.

I see the VC “model” best defined by its primary activity (principal investments in early-stage, unproven companies with high-potential) and unique structure (long-term investment partnerships with incentives to share the risk and reward). Simply: risk capital, pooled.
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Des Moines venture capitalist John Pappajohn has announced the launch of the fifth annual John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition.

The competition is designed to stimulate business development and is open to those in business less than six years.

A total of $50,000 will be awarded to the top three submitted business plans: $25,000 for first prize, $15,000 for second prize and $10,000 for third prize. Honorable mention awards of $1,000 will be given to additional companies.

The winner will be named at the Iowa Venture Capital and Entrepreneurs Conference in Des Moines on Oct. 5. For more information, including rules and eligibility, visit
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business man book flickrWe asked a few small business leaders and VCs for their recommendations of books that every entrepreneur should read.

The suggestions ranged from straightforward business books with common-sense startup advice to works of fiction of a more philosophical nature, but they all offer lessons on life and business that are important for everyone even thinking about starting a startup.
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For the past week or so, Sean Stannard-Stockton has been diligently chronicling the public commentary about the Social Innovation Fund's recent Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). He's posted thoughts from people ranging from nonprofit consultants to social entrepreneurs, and while there is lots of excitement, there have been a few questions or concerns that seem to arise across the board:

1. The Problem With "Proven": Many people had problems with the strenuous approach to having "proven impact" be a part of the funding process. I thought Sean put it most compellingly, basically making an argument that there were almost no nonprofits who could actually point to conclusive evidence because what that conclusive evidence looks like is relatively subjective. The biggest problem is the idea of using random experiments to test effectiveness - only one of many methods that can be used to test effectiveness and frankly, one that most groups saw as relatively unimportant and flawed until these guidelines came out. If groups all suddenly begin lining up to design randomized trials and field tests now, it would demonstrate the power of funders to force nonprofits to conform to a theory of change (or rather, a theory of testing change), rather than offering up their own approaches.
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That is not a joke headline. It blows my mind, but last year, an Ad-ology study found, 46 percent of small businesses surveyed said they did not have a website.

What are they waiting for?

Granted, the number of small businesses with websites took a jump in the past two years, from 33 percent to 45 percent, a Discover study showed. How many more small businesses will join them this year? It's unclear.

In the Discover study, 46 percent of respondents said it's a myth that every company needs a website. And they're right--companies that don't want to be successful certainly shouldn't spend the time and money to develop a company site. So every company doesn't need one.
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The turbulent times in business are over! Goodbye to an era of downturn. Let us all welcome the new era of progress, prosperity and productivity! It is good news that an era of turnaround is to unfold! We must be well prepared to capitalize on this new era of vast challenges and opportunities.

Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship should be encouraged at all levels. It is only through the creative process, innovative approaches and entrepreneurship spirit that we can march ahead and move forward.
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Dear Friend of ASTRA:
Happy belated New Year 2010!

Please take a few minutes of your time to complete the first-ever ASTRA Innovation Benchmarks Survey. The purpose of the Survey is to better understand the practices of more than 43,000 diverse individuals and institutions engaged in ASTRA's innovation policy space - and to discern what changes ASTRA's Board should consider as it reviews its policy positions for 2010.  If you'd like a copy of the Survey results, just click through for instructions - they are contained on the Survey...

The Survey can be accessed at:


Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Priscilla ChanThe market for initial public offerings has been dead for the last few years, but 2010 should be different.

There's a slew of hot startups -- from Facebook to TeleNav to ReachLocal -- with big, rapidly growing businesses that are ready to test the public waters.

What has held companies back until now?

Three things, says Chris Dixon, the angel investor, entrepenuer, and blogger:

  • Sarbanes Oxley red tape adds millions of dollars in overhead for companies looking to go public.
  • New cash from investors like DST for Facebook have eased the need to raise funds from the public market.
  • The public got scorched by tech IPOs early this decade and that memory hasn't quite been erased.
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One of the most frequent requests I get from content creation clients is to make their site copy ‘pop’. And I’ll be honest that I still don’t really know what that means. I think it means that they want their pages to grab someone’s attention. They want their content to stand out and to be compelling enough that it encourages potential customers to dig deeper into the Web site. That’s the goal of any great home page. But how can you accomplish that?

Below are a few suggestions for sites that want their content to ‘pop’, whatever that really means.
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EurActiv Logo The EU executive is planning to open a string of new offices across the world to help small businesses expand into new markets, but Brussels is wary of stepping  on the toes of national agencies and private organisations which already provide such services, according to European Commission documents seen by EurActiv.

Millions of euro will be pumped into overseas advice centres to help European companies grappling with the legal and cultural challenges of working in new markets.
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At the end of last year I [Author] was planning to write a post that was something like “The Best Products of 2009″ or “The 2009 Product of the Year” or even “The Best Products of the Decade”. After asking my twitter friends and designers what they thought, and compiling their feedback and suggestions, I realize this did not make sense, as I was not in a position to actually trial enough products to make an accurate call.

Author: Design Sojourn

WSJBiotech venture capitalists expect a busy year of deal-making with pharmaceutical companies following a productive round of meetings at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week.

With few companies going public, venture investors rely heavily on pharmaceutical M&A and licensing deals to secure returns and capital for portfolio companies. The J.P. Morgan conference in San Francisco, which concluded Thursday, is a key partnering event, and this year the tone of the discussions was particularly positive, venture investors said.

In 2009, drug manufacturers were consumed with consolidation and weighed down by the financial crisis. As a result, biotechs were unlikely to get full value from a deal, said Seth Harrison, managing partner of Apple Tree Partners.
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The Tech Transfer BlogShawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which raises funds for private equity cleantech funds and private cleantech companies, peeked inside U.S. university labs and reports the best examples of collaboration among academics, businesses, and investors focused on clean technologies. “While many dotcom companies were started by students out of their dorm rooms or basements, don’t look for a similar trend in the cleantech world,” Lesser says. He ranks the top 10 U.S. cleantech universities in 2010 as follows:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT is home to the MIT Clean Energy Prize, which has helped launch several energy ventures, including FloDesign, FastCap Systems, Levant Power, Husk Insulation, and Covalent Solar. In addition, the MIT Energy Initiative, launched in September 2006, is an institute-wide initiative to help meet the energy needs of the future by improving existing systems. Notable MIT cleantech spinouts include A123 Systems, FastCap Systems, Levant Power, Trophos Energy, Promethean Power, 1366 Technologies, Sun Catalytix, and Agrivida.
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Patents are one indicator of a healthy entrepreneurial climate - and we'd like to see more of them - but until more venture capital flows to the region, it may not matter.

A new analysis of patent data reveals a widening gap in the Wisconsin economy that roughly bisects I-94 between Milwaukee and Madison.

In 2009, Madison produced 222 patents, while Milwaukee produced only 148.

It's a single statistic, we acknowledge, and it would be a mistake to make too much of it. But political and business leaders in the Milwaukee region should take no comfort. A report in November by the Milken Institute pegged the Milwaukee area 151st in the country on creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. Madison was 63rd. Our mature industries, meanwhile, continue to shed jobs at an alarming rate.
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