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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.

Are the Triangle’s best days behind it after more than 25 years of growth? As the Research Triangle Park enters its sixth decade of existence, has it passed its peak as one of the world’s leading sites for the blending of high tech, life sciences, medicine and education?

What challenges must be overcome during the next 10 years to keep the shine on what former Gov. Jim Hunt likes to call “the Golden Triangle”?

Education, public policy, taxes and maintenance of entrepreneurial passion that leads to growth as well as new businesses, highlight the list of concerns as expressed to Raleigh Metro Magazine in a series of interviews with technology, business and policy leaders.

Steve Ogburn, chief executive officer at Capstone Bank in North Raleigh, was quite succinct in his appraisal.
“The quality of life, good economy, workforce, the government being proactive in recruiting, and the availability of capital” are among the strengths, he explained. On the other hand, the “strength of banks, bank regulation, the weakness of government budget and increased taxes” are among the threats.

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Bain Capital Ventures, the venture capital arm of private equity firm Bain Capital, has raised $525 million for a new venture fund, a source familiar with the situation said on Monday.

It is the fourth venture fund that Boston-based Bain has raised, and is slightly higher than the previous fund of $500 million.

Bain Capital Ventures has about $1.5 billion in assets under management and has made investments in companies including DoubleClick and

It has started investing the most recent fund. One of its investments included buying $12 million preferred stock of public company filing business Edgar Online (EDGR.O).

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Wisconsin long has lagged other states in venture capital funding, but a new "fund of funds" could help change that. It's a great idea.

Think of a lush summer's garden - a difficult thought to conjure in early February, but bear with us.

To grow the garden, you will need to transplant vegetables from someone else's garden, tend the plants you already have or plant a lot of seeds and hope they germinate.

Economic development is something like that. For the Milwaukee 7 region to grow, business and government leaders must get better at the care and feeding of existing companies, attract new ones and grow our own.

So, we were encouraged by the recent news that a group of business and government leaders are planning to raise $100 million for a Wisconsin-based venture capital fund.

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altDear Colleagues:

On behalf of the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP), it is my pleasure to invite you to attend a high-level symposium on “Clustering for 21st Century Prosperity.”  This symposium will be convened under the auspices of the STEP Board’s analysis of Competing in the 21st Century: Best Practice in State and Regional Innovation Initiatives, led by former Under Secretary for Technology, and National Academy of Engineering member, Dr. Mary Good. 

The Obama Administration is undertaking a number of important initiatives with regard to the development of high-tech clusters, such as the newly announced “Energy Hubs.”  This conference will provide an opportunity to learn about these important initiatives and current best practice among U.S. states as well as leading countries overseas such as Brazil. 

The meeting will be held in Washington, DC, on Thursday, 25 February 2010 beginning at
8:30 AM at the National Academy of Sciences located at 2100 C Street, NW.  Breakfast will be available from 8:00 AM, a served lunch will be provided, and there will be a networking reception following the conclusion of the day’s presentations and discussions.

The symposium will bring together senior officials from the White House, the Departments of Energy and Commerce, and other federal agencies.  We also plan to include representatives from U.S. national laboratories, congressional staff, and leading universities, and we believe it should include examples of best practice from key countries and international organizations such as the OECD. 

Please let us know if you are able to join us by responding to me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and my colleague Adam Gertz (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or by calling us at 202-334-1529.

Charles Wessner, Ph.D.
Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Editor's Note: More information (including the agenda) can be found here:

INEW WAYS TO INCENTIVIZE WORK AND INNOVATIONf I asked you: what is the best way to incentivize work and innovation in a large economic system? You would immediately respond: financial reward. However, that assumption might not be correct. Here's why.

As a serial entrepreneur, I'm constantly thinking about building new businesses. One of my long standing dreams has been to start a real world company that operates like a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. One reason I believe that this type of venture would work (and that my dream wasn't purely a fantasy) is this simple insight: MMOs with persistent environments (aka "worlds") have proven an ability to incentivize tens of millions of players to do billions of hours of work.

I'm talking about real, active work and not merely mindless, passive entertainment. Everything from drudge work to extremely complex analysis to the coordination of large groups in the pursuit of solving complex problems. All of this work was accomplished without a real world economic incentive. Instead the pay-off was (tested over billions of hours of play):

* Improvement in status (level).
* Gain new capabilities (new tools) and skills.
* Earn in-game faux money (to purchase new tools and status enhancing items).

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The new brand name Xfinity will first appear in Comcast ads around the time of the Winter Olympics in 11 markets, including Seattle. PHILADELPHIA — The Comcast cable guy and his truck are getting a new look.

The Philadelphia cable giant last week said it would rebrand its TV, Internet and telephone services as Xfinity on Friday to signal to customers that this isn't the same old company.

Comcast will remain as the corporate name, but the company will emphasize Xfinity in advertisements and on 24,000 service trucks and thousands of employee uniforms.

The new brand name will first appear in Comcast ads around the time of the Winter Olympics in 11 markets, including Seattle, and will then appear in Comcast's cable franchise areas in other parts of the country.

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56 Reasons Why Innovation Initiatives FailInnovation is in these days. The word is on the lips of just about every CEO, CFO, CIO, and anyone else with a three-letter acronym after their name. As a result, many companies are launching all kinds of "innovation initiatives" - hoping to stir the soup. This is understandable. But it is also, far too often, very disappointing...

Innovation initiatives sound good, but usually don't live up to the expectations. The reasons are many.

What follows are fifty-six of the most common ones - organizational obstacles we've observed in the past twenty-two years that get in the way of a company really raising the bar for innovation.

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BERLIN and MUMBAI, India, February 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Innovation by Germany's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry is a key to rapid economic recovery. Europe's largest market and a propeller of cutting-edge technology, Germany's IT industry is responsible for 80 percent of German innovations in all industries. Left relatively unscathed by the downturn, ICT has continued to perform well worldwide. Germany Trade & Invest will be presenting the latest in ICT innovation at this year's NASSCOM India Leadership Forum 2010 from February 9 - 11 in Mumbai, India.

Germany is leveraging its strong position in ICT innovation to boost future growth. The industry posted over EUR 133 billion in revenue in 2008 and holds 19 percent of the European ICT market. To secure this position Germany has boosted funding for research and development projects. The government's High-Tech Strategy supports the ICT industry with over EUR 1.5 billion reserved for ICT R&D projects. Over EUR 15 billion is additionally available for project grants and research funding to further promote innovation.

The ICT industry has an umbrella effect on other sectors, which is evident in the number of patents the industry registers. These innovations contribute to industries such as automotive, medical technologies and logistics industries. With 1,800 patents in 2007, Germany was behind only the USA and Japan.

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Innovators Welcome AmbiguityBrilliant thinkers and innovators are very comfortable with ambiguity - they welcome it. Routine thinkers like clarity and simplicity; they dislike ambiguity. There is a tendency in our society to reduce complex issues down to simple issues with obviously clear solutions. We see evidence of this in the tabloid press. There have been some terrible crimes committed in our cities. A violent offender received what is seen to be a lenient sentence. This shows that judges are out of touch with what is needed and that heavy punishment will stop the crime wave. The brilliant thinker is wary of simple nostrums like these. He or she knows that complex issues usually involve many causes and these may need many different and even conflicting solutions.

Routine thinkers are often dogmatic. They see a clear route forward and they want to follow it. The advantage of this is that they can make decisive and effective executives - up to a point. If the simple route happens to be a good one then they get on with the journey. The downside is that they will likely follow the most obvious idea and not consider creative, complex or controversial choices. The exceptional thinker can see many possibilities and relishes reviewing both sides of any argument. They are happy to discuss and explore multiple possibilities and are keen to challenge conventional wisdom. People around them and subordinates can sometimes consider this approach to be frustrating and indecisive.

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Barcelona has a clear vision: Becoming the entrepreneurship capital of Europe. That is quite an interesting vision and marketing strategy for a city. Being able to say that you are the start-up capital is quite a titel however will not be easily achieved.

Considering that Barcelona is one of the most liveable and attractive cities and hosts two of the top-ten business schools in Europe, this could however be strategy that might actually work. ESADE’s strong focus on entrepreneurship and ESADE’s business incubator “Creapolis” definitely goes well along those lines.

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There were some surprises near the end of the game in the ad line-up. Anheuser-Busch InBev added a spot in the fourth quarter, for Bud Light, bringing its total for the game to nine. Hyundai also added a spot in the fourth quarter, running a commercial for the Hyundai Sonata that had appeared during the pre-game show. The spot, depicting the workers of the Hyundai plant in Alabama carrying a car from the beginning of its manufacturing to the end, becomes the second in the game using a crowd joining forces to do good; there was a Budweiser spot with a similar tack, in which townspeople built a human bridge.

E*Trade also bought an additional spot that was originally not in its plans, also in the fourth quarter. The spot featured five babies; the first one had three.

There had been speculation that additional commercials would turn up in the game because of the strong demand among advertisers for time during this Super Bowl.

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President Ma Ying-jeou has identified a draft bill to promote industrial innovation as a major strategy in the effort to develop Taiwan into a global innovation center, an Asia-Pacific trade and economic hub, and the operational headquarters of international enterprises.

In his meeting with Premier Wu Deh-yih on Feb.6, Ma gave a directive for an all-out effort to be made to pass the bill, which failed to clear the legislative floor before the last session closed at the end of 2009.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the issue: United Daily News: President Ma has said that the provisions of the draft statute should just benefit large enterprises.

The day after a meeting with the president, Premier Wu said the bill, which is meant to fill the void left by the invalidated Statute for Upgrading Industry, will also include provisions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and traditional industries.

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Top six tips on getting funds for your new business ve...Technology entrepreneurs often have great ideas, but are short of a critical resource: the money to bring their product or service to market.

Creating a business that can grow organically or taking an existing small business to the next level is expensive.

But unless you're taking straight debt financing, from a bank, for example, there's more to a business partnership than just money. But how does a startup find potential partners? And how do they know they're the right fit?

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The grand hope today seems to be that venture capital and entrepreneurship can be salvaged by blue-ribbon panels, government initiatives and grand central plans. The buzzword of choice, "clustering," is a notion that has been around a long time in business supply chain circles, but is fairly recent to the venture capital realm.

In the United States, clustering came about spontaneously as VC activity coalesced into geographic focal points for businesses and their financiers with specialized expertise — think medical technologies in Boston, and IT and semiconductors in Silicon Valley.

The generally accepted premise is new clusters can sprout up from grand plans involving flashy incentives such a new government-funded business centres and targeted grant money. Governments are pouring tens of millions of dollars into these nascent clusters in the hope they catch on. This hope is not based on reality.

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People in technology businesses are drawn to places known for diversity of thought and open-mindedness”, is what Professor Richard Florida concluded after studying the growth and success of 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. The most successful regions were those with the most gays, bohemians, and immigrants. These groups flourish in Silicon Valley, and its diversity has undoubtedly provided it with great advantage. But after attending the recent Crunchies Awards, I realized that something important is still missing — women entrepreneurs. I was shocked that the only woman CEO on stage during the entire event was TechCrunch’s own Heather Harde. Nearly all the companies that competed in the event (other than the PR firms) had males at the helm. This dearth may be one of the reasons for which the Venture Capital community is in such sharp decline, and why the Valley isn’t achieving even more success.

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DefenseNewsTEL AVIV - Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is revamping its corporate culture, emphasizing accountability and fiscal discipline in a bid to boost efficiency, growth and its competitive standing in the world market.

With a record backlog exceeding $8 billion and an advanced technology portfolio spanning the full spectrum of aerospace and defense, the state-owned company is Israel's largest exporter and its undisputed flagship of industrial strength.

Two years of streamlining efforts are changing both day-to-day business practices and overall development and investment strategy, executives here say. For example, IAI has overhauled its pricing process and imposed draconian guidelines on oversight.

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David Lerner If you’re in the mood for a really enjoyable film, I recommend Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. In it he uses the latest movie-making technologies to animate 19th century London in all its dark immensity and brooding menace- from the elegant halls of parliament to the ornate rooms of masonic temples to the labyrinthine sewers beneath the city. The sets and staging in and of themselves are a masterpiece and are simply breathtaking. I think the production designer should be nominated for yet another Academy Award.

I also came to this film with a sensibility that I did not have when I first encountered Holmes as a young boy reading Conan Doyle. I was of course neither an entrepreneur nor an early-stage investor. Not surprisingly, this time, soon after leaving the theater something I had never considered before really hit me. I was struck by the realization that Sherlock would have made an amazing venture capitalist!

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In the hopes to continue a much-needed conversation on how to revamp the economy, this week I would like to highlight another policy recommendation that emerged from the Kauffman Foundation’s State of Entrepreneurship address: reform immigration policy to attract migrants who want to start new companies and create jobs.

First, let me remind you why immigration matters. High-skilled immigrants have been the lifeblood of entrepreneurial companies that have transformed entire industries and the ways we do things, creating tremendous wealth and valuable jobs during the process. Evidence shows that immigrants start a disproportionately high number of new U.S. firms. Of the technology firms started in the U.S. during 1995-2005, fully one-quarter had at least one immigrant key founder. In Silicon Valley, the proportion is much higher: over half the technology startups there were started by at least one entrepreneur born abroad. Several “rockstars” probably come to your mind: Vinod Khosla of India and Andreas von Bechtolsheim of Germany who co-founded Sun Microsystems; Google’s Russian-born co-founder, Sergey Brin; Jerry Yang, the Taiwanese-born co-founder of Yahoo; and Ric Fulop, an immigrant from Venezuela, who co-founded a revolutionary lithium ion battery company, A123sytems.

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altGoogle made its Super Bowl commercial debut with its “Parisian Love” 30-second spot. Did the company get its money’s worth from the $2.5 million or so it spent? The ad is cute and does make a good point about how you can use Google to find out so many things that are important to you in life. It is focused on the product itself, not silly humor like the Doritos or Bud Light ads. And I think that’s an intelligent approach to brand marketing. What do you think?


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It’s great to get recognition for your small business and it’s even better if that recognition comes with great prizes. This list of competitions and awards for small businesses is updated every two weeks and brought to you as a community service by Small Business Trends and

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