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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.

I [Peter Carrescia] recently wrote about the need for focus in building the next generation of Canadian technology companies. I want to follow that up with what I believe is the first and most important ingredient – Entrepreneurship.

Today, there are simply not enough people catching the entrepreneurial bug and starting their own companies. It really is a numbers game – increase the supply of new companies, and there will be a proportionate increase in the number of successful companies.

The cultural change required needs to be instilled in us at the earliest possible opportunity, while we’re still in school and have little to lose and everything to gain. It is infinitely more difficult to convince someone to take risk when they have a mortgage, car payments, a spouse and children. It won’t work out for many that try, but for those that it doesn’t they will be better employees later for having tried, and better prepared should they perhaps try again.

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 Governing Cities in a Global Era: Urban Innovation, Competition, and Democratic Reform
By Robin Hambleton, Jill Gross

* Number Of Pages: 292
* Publication Date: 2007-11-15
* ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0230602304
* ISBN-13 / EAN: 9780230602304

Product Description:

Written in a lively and accessible style by leading scholars from eleven countries this is the first global book to pre a thorough examination of the urban challenges now facing city leaders and managers in all continents. The text is organized into three parts: the global ures now impacting urban governance; the innovations currently taking place in urban government; and the heartland themes of leadership, partnership and the democratic challenge. The analysis suggests that global forces pose a grave threat to civilized living – the pursuit of narrow self-interest could drive all cities into a spiral of decline resulting in consumers living isolated lives in separate fortified enclaves. All the authors in this volume reject this vision of our urban future. Instead, by analyzing place-specific experiences and offering new insights on the dynamics of urban change, they propose imaginative routes for reform. This book argues for strategies that can lead to prosperous multi-cultural cities across the world – cities that enhance the quality of life for all citizens.

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Key spch ParliamentIn his opening speech to Parliament, Prime Minister John Key has signaled increased spending for science and innovation as part of his overall plan to improve New Zealand’s economic health.

This spending will be strongly linked to industry engagement with public sector science, and will focus on targeted research and development rather than basic research.

An excerpt:

“The challenge for New Zealand is to get more of our firms using science, research and technology to deliver more valuable products and services, which in turn allows them to succeed in competitive export markets and to create new and better-paid jobs for New Zealanders.

“Science and innovation are therefore key elements of the Government’s economic agenda, both this year and into the future.

“Our objective is a high-performing public science system which supports economic growth, and a wider innovation system that encourages firms to increase their investment in, take-up, and application of research.

“…Science and innovation, and how they can underpin business opportunities, are so important for this Government that we have made this area a priority for new spending in this year’s Budget, with a focus on boosting business research and science capability.”
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Every year Edelman releases its Trust Barometer report (Executive Summary) to measure consumer confidence in business and, if we’re taking a cue from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, identify the biggest ‘trust agents’ helping them to make their decisions. This year the findings are getting some people wondering about the overall impact on social media.

Social media has always “worked” because people trusted the advice and recommendations of people ‘like them’ over the cold marketing they were accustomed to. They trusted that their friends and people who valued the same things were better able to help them make decisions than the absent CEO or marketing department of a company. However, thanks to the flood of noise and the emergence of large, impersonal social networks, people are losing trust in social connections and those ‘like them’. Instead, they’re leaning more towards experts, with a strong rise in the transparent CEO.

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We quote our friend Joe Cortright, Portland, OR, economist and thinker, on this blog frequently.

As a result, we invite you to watch this video of him speaking to University Park Alliance in Akron, Ohio, on a subject near and dear to us but also a subject that should be on a front burner for Memphis: “Attracting Talent Through the Development of Vibrant Urban Centers.”

University Park Alliance features “these thought-provoking national experts (who) will challenge us toward new thinking and imaginative action around the
creation of vibrant urban centers.”

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pluGGd.inThe following was narrated to me over the weekend by a Professor of Finance and a former finance industry executive with experience in well known multinationals.

“Upon asking his supervisor about his not being promoted even after performing well at his job and being recognized for it as well, he was told that he was asking the wrong question! His supervisor told him “You’re asking the wrong question! You should ask – what should I do to get promoted?” Quite naturally, this confused the finance executive and now Professor all the more. Upon enquiring, he was told by his supervisor that he was undoubtedly very good at his job but hadn’t demonstrated leadership by developing a competent second rung of leadership. “You should make yourself redundant by growing out of your job to be promoted” was the message from the supervisor; else, upon promotion, who would do the executive’s job at least as well as it was being done?!

The executive took the message to heart. In the next 2 years, he was promoted over 4 times! “

Is the same promotion philosophy applicable in a startup as well? I believe it is.

A group of energetic, passionate and talented people come together to create a startup to realize their dreams. In the early days of the startup, when there’s ambiguity and amorphousness about the company’s structure, roles and responsibilities, it is understandable when the founders and early team members do everything and anything possible to get the job done right, on time. After a while, as the startup grows, a more formal structure comes into being.

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Oscar Morales Guevara counsels One Young World delegates.LONDON, England (CNN) -- We witness today, at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, one of the most astonishing phenomena of the digital era: the consolidation of the social network, and even more, the empowerment of the worldwide youth thanks to these tools.

All of us certainly have a profile on Facebook or Twitter, and for sure we have seen dozens of videos on YouTube. Some of you only see on these tools the possibility to be connected with your relatives and your closest friends, exchange pictures and publish information about your activities.

But this is only the surface, the tip of the iceberg. What many people ignore is what is emerging underneath. These social media networks, whether we like it or not, are reshaping the way people communicate.

They have united the people from all over the world in one global village, in a gigantic conversation, where day after day opinions are exchanged around initiatives to face the diversity of problems that affect the way we live.

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Most startups seem to embrace 60-80 hour weeks, you keep reading about them and begin to believe that this is normal. After 12 hour marathon coding sessions ‘typical entrepreneurs’ walk 10 metres from desk to bed and collapse in their shared accommodations. Living in such lean conditions makes those crucial first months of business far cheaper. This work ethic and minimal living costs maximizes the runway before the seed money runs out.

Paul Graham is one of my favourite bloggers, and his essay entitled The Other Road Ahead he paints a clear picture of how lean a start-up can be, stating “You can literally launch your product as three guys sitting in the living room of an apartment, and a server collocated at an ISP. We did.”

No matter how much I’d love to take the lean ramen noodle approach it’s simply not practical for me. I’m a father of two, a husband of one, and an employee. I’ve got a beautiful family with young children, a modest house with a mortgage, and a full-time job to pay the bills. In short, I have a standard existence that I imagine many of my readers share. Living off noodles in a cheap apartment with my co-founders is not the only way that start-ups are built. I’ve taken an alternative route that involves just as much hard graft (harder maybe?) and allows me to remain employed full-time. The food sure is better!

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SBIR GatewayDear SBIR Insider,

Here's a quick update and some answers to a few of your questions. You've been very generous with your comments, and they're deeply appreciated. I want to concentrate on some questions that were critical of the SBIR Insider's reporting.

Although the comments critical of our reporting are minimal by comparison (I can't tell you how fortunate I feel), several bring up important questions/views that you should be aware of.


As reported previously, and now signed by the President, 10 of the 11 SBIR agency programs have been extended through April 30, 2010. The exception is the DoD which is good through September 30, 2010. Everything is running "as is" with no major changes.

There is no progress to report concerning the House & Senate compromising to pass a full SBIR/STTR reauthorization bill.

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A Roadmap for Advancing the Green Economy in Rhode IslandThe green economy is a new opportunity for Rhode Island that can increase the number and diversity of jobs and raise wages. Education and training must be aligned to support job opportunities at all levels. Advancing the green economy will bring collateral benefits like waste and energy use reduction and energy price stabilization. Ulti- mately, advancing the green economy will require efforts with all kinds of companies: nurturing new, entrepreneurial efforts; helping existing companies grow and convert to green practices; and attracting existing or new ventures from outside the state.

As a result of the work done through the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation’s June 2009 Green Economy Roundtable and the subsequent Roadmap development processes, RIEDC has identified acceleration initiatives for advancing the green economy:

  • Make green products and green the advanced manufacturing process
  • Build or retrofit high performing/energy efficient buildings and infrastructure
  • Integrate the elements of innovation: research, development and then business application in the marketplace, resulting in business growth and adoption
  • Build the hub of a local supply chain for onshore and offshore wind power for the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states

Following the roundtable, RIEDC assembled key leaders to develop the roadmap for the critical green economy initiatives that were identified in June. The content for the roadmap is based on the outcomes of seven small workshops — one for each initiative, an additional workshop for wind and two workshops on workforce development — held in late 2009 and early 2010.

Policy, originally defined as an initiative, has now been identified as a building block that will tie the acceleration initiatives together.

Green policy, workforce training and education, behavior change, capital, and business growth and adoption were determined to be the five building blocks that will drive all the acceleration initiatives. In order for the four accelera- tor initiatives to succeed, the building blocks must provide a strong foundation. Strong building blocks will yield: aligned policy to redirect resources; up-to-date, innovative workforce training and education programs; increased behavior change of citizens; more available capital; and accelerated business growth and adoption. Further, it would create a strong competitive advantage for green business attraction and retention in Rhode Island.

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Camille Sobrian, left, is chief operating officer and Moya Gollaher is executive vice president of CONNECT, which has opened an office in Washington, D.C., to help local high-tech and life sciences entrepreneurs and their companies. Most high-tech entrepreneurs and innovators don’t have time to put on a tie and sit through a three-hour meeting about policy issues in Washington, D.C. They are too busy creating the next generation of digital mobile applications and lifesaving health care products, and creating jobs for the new innovation economy. There has not been a strong voice or presence in the nation’s capital to represent these innovators, who neither have the money nor bandwidth to lobby or educate representatives on their needs and interests — until now.

CONNECT, a San Diego-based nonprofit tech organization, has opened an office in Washington, D.C., to help facilitate, from a federal level, the needs of local high tech and life science entrepreneurs and their companies.

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While successful technology entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs founded their respective companies after dropping out of college, research universities have still succeeded in fostering their own innovative technologies. Currently, however, when a professor or student develops a particularly extraordinary idea or product, the process of spinning-off the intellectual property into its own company is usually a slow and expensive process. David B. Lerner, an entrepreneur, angel investor and director of Columbia University's Venture Lab/Spin-Off program, recently proposed that universities work to reverse this trend and better facilitate startup spin-offs.

Some schools, like the ones we recently profiled in our list of the best entrepreneurial college programs, are doing a great job of facilitating entrepreneurship on the educational level. But as Lerner points out in his blog post Why and How Universities Should Embrace Startup Culture, most schools could benefit from revamping their spin-off practices.

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The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, today announced funding for several groundbreaking, large-scale, multidisciplinary research projects. These projects will play an important role in connecting academic researchers to Canadian organizations in an effort to propel new knowledge generation and technology applications for the benefit of Canadians right now. The grants, totalling $56 million over five years, from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will support 11 research networks focused on areas of social and economic importance. The networks will create new market opportunities for various sectors, including manufacturing and forestry. Minister Clement made the announcement during a keynote address at the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters conference held today in Ottawa.

"Our government's investments in science and technology are creating jobs, stimulating the economy and improving Canadians' quality of life," noted Minister Clement. "We are investing more in innovation than ever before in Canada's history. By supporting the research being done by these networks, we are building the economy of tomorrow and helping our universities blaze the way to greater long-term prosperity and innovation that will benefit Canadians for years to come."

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ycombinator_image_feb10.jpgBetween Y Combinator's Startup School, the influx of seed fund incubators, the list of legendary mentors and investors and the dotcom bust's school of hard knocks, is there really any reason to go to grad school? At ReadWriteWeb we're supportive of lifelong learning and universities that coach entrepreneurs, but a recent post by Venture Hacks founder Naval Ravikant has us wondering, "What is the value in grad school?"

ycombinator_image_feb10.jpgRavikant suggests that incubators and accelerators like YCombinator and Techstars are the new grad school.

He writes, "In some ways, it's better," and that unlike business schools, YCombinator pays entrepreneurs, which allows founders to be their own boss and encourages original work.

In addition to Ravikant's points, the fact that every incubator participant is connected to advisors through a financial agreement means the group may be motivated to maintain their network and share contacts. Nevertheless, before dismissing the idea of grad school altogether, it's good to remember many of the top entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley are MIT, Harvard and CalTech grads (including some of the Venture Hacks team). Perhaps the argument here is not so much about incubators over traditional institutions, but in the value of good mentors that have a stake in your success and do not rest on the laurels of a tenured position.

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My PhotoThe New Republic (Rahman and Muro) - [T]he new budget unveils not one, but several proposals to support regional industry or innovation “clusters” through multiple federal departments. Clusters, as we have noted previously, are a fundamental fact of national economies, and a critical enhancer of regional economic performance. However, as we have also noted, the U.S. lags other nations in providing support to these “bottom-up,” region-based systems of business development, innovation, and talent matching. And so the 2011 budget seeks to change that by applying cluster approaches across multiple segments of the federal delivery system--rather than anchoring it in a single agency.

And so at least four agencies are this year engaged in a new, more pervasive embrace of cluster policy in the 2011 budget:

  • The EDA’s proposed $75 million Regional Innovation Clusters program would provide regional planning and matching grants focused on leveraging regions’ competitive strengths to boost job creation and economic growth. (See pages 2, 41, 46 of the Department of Commerce Budget-in-Brief)
  • The Small Business Administration would support EDA’s cluster effort by directing a proposed $11 million toward promoting greater small business participation in regional clusters by better coordinating its resources for business counseling, training, and mentor-protégé partnerships. (See page 136 of the President’s Proposed FY2011 budget for the SBA
  • The Department of Labor (DOL) would use its newly proposed Workforce Innovation Fund (of up to an estimated $108 million) to help ensure that the workforce development system also aligns with regional cluster growth by facilitating regional collaboration among training and employment services providers and stronger linkages with employers so that worker training leads to good jobs. (See pages 4, 17 of the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration Congressional Budget Justification)
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to invest $12 million to promote new “NSF Innovation Ecosystems” as a part of its existing $19.2 million Partnerships for Innovation program. The new “innovation ecosystem” component aims to support regional innovation clusters around universities by engaging faculty and students across all disciplines in efforts to increase the impact of promising innovations through commercialization, industry alliances, and start-up formation. (See page 4 of the NSF Budget Overview)
  • The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) budget request calls for a Regional Innovation Initiative to align federal resources to promote more economic opportunities in rural communities and have greater regional impact.(See page 14 of the USDA Budget Summary 
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EurActiv LogoThe European Commission is threatening action against Facebook for recent changes to its privacy settings, which make personal information available by default, going against the EU's drive for more privacy protection on the Internet, especially for minors.

The commissioner in charge of data protection, Viviane Reding, will announce her "concern" about Facebook's recent moves in a speech today (9 February), during European Safer Internet Day celebrations in Strasbourg.

Despite growing pressure to improve data protection and the safety of social network users, Facebook surprisingly changed its privacy policy at the end of January, making it easier to access to personal information hosted on its platform.

Since January, Facebook profiles have been accessible by default. Users with greater privacy awareness will have to make their profiles private so that they can only be viewed by friends, if they want to maintain control over their personal information.

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Innovators Network Blog - Helping entrepreneurs identify, understand, and leverage the value in their businessABC News – Money: As an accurate indicator of innovation and business health, patents are among the best, and a recent report confirms the recent economic downturn’s effect on intellectual property protections. UN Patent Filings Dropped for 1st Time Since 1978 via the Associated Press provides more clarity to this relationship:

The number of international patent filings dropped last year for the first time since 1978 as companies hit by the global economic downturn sought fewer new protections on their intellectual property, the U.N. said Monday.

Most patents filed in 2009 were for computer technology, followed by pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Innovations in computer chip design and nanotechnology saw the greatest rise in patents.

The World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, received about 155,900 international patent filings last year, a drop of 4.5 percent compared with the nearly 164,000 filings received a year earlier.
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Many small businesses continue to experience cash flow problems – the majority, in fact, according to a survey by the Discover Small Business Watch.

That cash flow is an issue right now for small businesses might sound obvious to most of you that run your own businesses, but a worsening trend might not be. So here’s a chart that shows what has been going on with small business cash flow over the past three years.

The figure plots the percentage of respondents to the Discover Small Business Watch monthly survey of a random sample of 750 small business owners who answered “yes,” they are experiencing temporary cash flow issues. Although there has been a slight down tick over the past two months, the chart shows a (noisy) trend towards an increasing share of small business owners experiencing these problems. (The thick blue line is the actual data; the thin black line is the linear trend plotted from it.)

Discover Small Business Watch Cash Flow
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pluGGd.inWe all probably know a lot about HR management and the value of good team in a startup. To further help on the same issue we surveyed some startup employees and have compiled a list of most popular and significant mistakes committed by some well known Indian startups and their founders. For privacy issues we have not used any names.

1. Forgetting to appreciate: You have read enough about employee motivation but you must learn to appreciate daily procedural work as well. Things that look trivial actually make a lot of difference to your company in the long run. Like a good resume found by your HR department on Naukri or forwarded by your current employee. Appreciate that, even if it was their daily work. This requires consistency and may not be easy but certainly keeps the employee excited all the time. – HR executive, BPO

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Anthony Cefali Late last week, scientists at CERN announced they would be turning the Large Hadron Collider back on. The world’s largest physics experiment broke down shortly after its first test runs in 2008 and has only been tested once since then. Unfortunately, the LHC will operate at half power for the next two years before being turned off yet again for another year’s worth of repairs.

So science lurches forward, smashing together protons in search of elusive particles needed to fill holes in equations and answer some pretty heavy-handed questions. Some expect to find the Higgs boson particle from LHC experimentation, others expect to find that we’ve been wrong about everything for a long time, this is the beauty of science. The process isn’t glamorous, it has taken 15 years and over $9 billion to build the LHC. Nor is it unanimous, but this is how we do science now. The figurative rock-star scientists of our generation are looking inward for their answers, combing through information at the microscopic level for a better understanding of our world.

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