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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.

Journal Of Business EthicsThis paper explores the reasons for the less than optimal level of social responsibility demonstrated by some small-scale individual entrepreneurs (SIEs) in developing countries. The authors examine the influence of a number of contextual factors including: business environment; cultural traditions; socio-economic conditions; and both international and domestic pressures on business practices. They offer some suggestions as to the reasons for the lack of responsible entrepreneurship of SIEs and signpost important implications for promoting sustainable business practices.
Key Findings

CSR in industrialized nations does not reflect the way SIEs operate in developing nations. While some SIEs are managing to forge a responsible orientation despite situational restrictions, the number engaged in socially irresponsible business practices is on the rise.

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These 5 laws distill the wisdom from the successful entrepreneurs interviewed for the book: 50 Interviews: Entrepreneurs Thriving in Uncertain Times which features exclusive interviews with some notable entrepreneurs including: Kim Jordan of New Belgium Brewing Co., Jake Jabs of American Furniture Warehouse, Christine Comaford, Allen Fishman of TAB, Bob Parsons of Go Daddy, and Michael Gerber of E-Myth. They are the common thread among all of the most successful entrepreneurs… whom have built great businesses and are living fulfilling lives:

1. Uncover a consuming passion. The more you share, the stronger it becomes. Similar to an addiction, they can’t turn it off and it rarely feels like work.

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Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery will be uniqueMadison — When it opens in December, the $205 million Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery will be a showcase of high-tech design and model of collaboration.

The public/private research center under construction in the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus features a circular auditorium for as many as 300 people, with walls that can be lifted into the ceiling, modular research neighborhoods with "plug-and-play" fume hoods and lab sinks, and clusters of casual seating beneath four-story high skylights.

These and other design elements embody the urge that is driving one of the country's most advanced interdisciplinary research hubs.

Developers see the institutes as a place where a diverse group of researchers from the UW-Madison campus and beyond will mix with each other and with industrial partners to tackle technical problems in new and unexpected ways.

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Julia Goines of Pediatric Bioscience in Davis tests blood samples in her research on autism. The company grew out of breakthrough work done at UC Davis.From biofuels to pharmaceuticals, Sacramento-area inventors have created scores of promising scientific breakthroughs, many of them in the well-funded laboratories of UC Davis.

Turning those inventions into jobs and wealth is hard, however. Starting a high-tech company in Sacramento means overcoming the region's risk-averse mind-set, a scarcity of big-money investors and the allure of the Bay Area's tech-friendly landscape.

In at least one respect, though, the climate for entrepreneurs seems to be getting better. After decades of indifference, the University of California, Davis, is laboring to convert its massive portfolio of scientific research into products that could help transform the Sacramento economy.

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♦   A $700 million renewal of Ohio Third Frontier — the 10-year, $1.6 billion project to re-energize Ohio’s economy by investing in emerging technologies — is on its way to the May 4 ballot, thanks to bipartisan support of a compromise resolution by state Senate and House members this week. Third Frontier stakeholders celebrated the passage of the ballot initiative, which not only would renew funding for the project, but raise its annual grant-making ability to $175 million from about $160 million a year. In addition, the bond funding would not be subject to state budgetary issues, as is two-thirds of Third Frontier’s current budget.
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Reverse Innovation is a Popular TrendThanks to a number of spectacular successes obtained by blue-chip companies in recent years, Reverse Innovation is becoming a popular trend. Examples include GE's portable ultra-sound equipment designed in China and sold worldwide, LG's low cost air conditioner designed in India and sold worldwide, Renault's Logan low-cost model designed for Eastern European markets and now selling on Western Europe, etc.

In an enlightening article, Vijay Govindarajan outlines a historical perspective from globalisation to reverse innovation, and highlights the key driver behind this evolution: the revenue gap between developed and emerging markets. But there are other drivers that may be less visible but no less powerful.

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The Delaware Valley Innovation Network (DVIN) was formed to apply for a Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant from the United States Department of Labor. In 2007, DVIN received a $5.1 million grant to support worker training and talent development within the life sciences and its supporting industries. Of the 39 WIRED initiatives established across the United States, DVIN was the only tri-state WIRED project and was endorsed by Governors RuthAnn Minner (DE), James McGreevey (NJ) and Edward Rendell (PA). DVIN was a regional collaborative partnership amongst government, academia, industry, and economic and workforce development organizations that served 14-counties within three states including New Castle county in Delaware; Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem counties in New Jersey; and Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania. The DVIN project was governed by a dedicated Executive Committee who ensured that the initiatives showcased in this report were innovative, industry driven and regional in scope. Although this was only a three year grant, the social and human capital impact will be felt for many years to come.

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Ask an aspiring entrepreneur why they’d kill to make the jump and, without fail, four of the top 5 reasons will be:

  • Freedom
  • Control
  • Money
  • Passion

They dream of working their own hours, not having to report to “the Man,” skipping though fields of money, loving what they do every moment of every day and changing the world. All great aspirations.

Question is -
How much is real, and how much is outright fantasy?

Let’s take a deeper look at the 4 big entrepreneurial motivations, bust a few myths and open a few eyes:

1. Freedom.

First let’s break it down. What do people mean when they say freedom? Sometimes they mean geographic freedom or what people have come to know as the ability to be location independent. Sometimes they mean financial freedom. Sometimes it’s the freedom to do what they love. And, other times it’s freedom from a fixed schedule. Or, not having to follow the orders of a boss. Either way, there’s a lot of myth here.

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Dr. Steven BerglasImportant reminders for all the mothers, corporate soldiers and baby boomers looking to launch.

There is a swelling class of first-time entrepreneurs, and they need help.

This class includes, among others, mompreneurs (women who saw business-building as a way to bolster their retirement stash and waning self-esteem from being out of the workforce for years); homepreneurs (recently laid-off cubicle warriors, or just those fed up with their 90-minute commutes); and boomerpreneurs (50- to 70-year-old careerists driven to pursue lifelong dreams while they still have the health and gumption to do it).

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We are here live from the 2010 Front End of Innovation Europe, making final preparations for the opening of this year's conference. As readers of this blog we offer you an opportunity to share in some of the great presentations and information from the conference. This year to help you stay informed and in the loop of everything that is happening here at FEI as it is taking place, we have several tools in place like live blog posts, twitter updates, photos from Flickr, daily emails, and discussions in our LinkedIn and Facebook fan page that we will continue to post throughout the event. Don't forget, if you're attending the conference and twittering, use #FEIEurope in your tweets to share in the conversation.

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Sir Richard Branson's new submersible, dubbed the Necker Nymph, received widespread media attention. The sleek watercraft is made by Hawkes Ocean Technologies. Image source: Hawkes Ocean TechnologiesI know it’s easy to call for innovation to drive economic growth at any point in history.

And the context of the times can always be sticky. If the United States was flush with venture capital or excess dollars in 2010, it would make the answers and next steps so much easier.

Of course, we are all familiar with the economic times.

The Economist, the august, market-oriented publication, recently reminded readers in the United States of words that always merit attention: Jobless recovery.

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Mike Michalowicz is the author of the book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, a great book for first-time entrepreneurs. He’s launched three multimillion-dollar companies, including Obsidian Launch, a company that partners with first-time entrepreneurs to grow their concepts into industry leaders.

In terms of resources, Mike explains that when you have a company with a staff of five people, you’ll find a way to use them. You might not use them efficiently, but you’ll use them. The same thing goes for money, or for any other resource.

However, when you have scarcity you become very disciplined and get the most return from the few resources that you have. Mike argues that this is the best way to grow a business. He adds that he’s an advocate for the scrapper entrepreneur: the people who are willing to dumpster-dive to get their business to succeed. Here’s a quote from Mike:

“I discovered that it does not take money to make money. In fact, it is the lack of money that forces innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. And when you are a startup entrepreneur with no money, you start finding new, unexpected ways to get things done. Ironically, if you had a fat wallet, you would be blinded to the innovations you could bring about.” (Source.)
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What is the Future of Funding?
The 2009 Venture Investment Numbers: 2009 had the lowest amount of investments into startups since 1997. "Atlas Venture’s Jeff Fagnan, who discussed about the numbers during the press conference call, also acknowledged that it has been a slow year for investments. The word for 2009 was 'triage,' he said, as venture firms found themselves with smaller reserves for follow-on funding than expected and more portfolio companies that needed help." - VentureBeat

And the amount of available capital is not the only aspect of the market experiencing "triage." Many great young investors that have not made partner at a surviving venture firm have left the field, or are leaving now. In fact, in's annual mailing to check the validity of its investor directory, 38% of the investment professionals listed appear to have left their position in 2009.

The market is going through a major transformation, and on February 18th, 200 leading limited partners, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs will convene in San Mateo to discuss the future of venture capital at's Future of Funding event. This one day symposium examines new ideas and new models for investment, covering the key questions facing venture capital from all sides of the market. Join visionaries such as Chris Dixon, Mike Maples, George Zachary, Jeff Clavier, Barry Silbert, and many more to help define the Future of Funding.  Innovation America readers get 25% off tickets at

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Successful entrepreneur Steve Welch has a thorn in his side, and the pain of it is spurring him on to public service.

Welch, founder and former CEO of the Mitos Group, a leader in biotechnology solutions; and co-founder of DreamIt Ventures, a unique venture firm that helps technology start-ups get off the ground, was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship. He picked up that thorn during his international travels with the program, while he investigated best practices for helping technology start-ups increase their chances of success and determined ways in which entrepreneurial communities within the United States can increase success rates.

“For the last year and a half I have visited a dozen countries, studying what is and is not working with their economies,” says Welch. “I find it upsetting that the rest of the world has figured out what the United States has traditionally done so well: decentralizing their societies and lowering barriers for business. Other countries are moving in that direction, while we are centralizing resources in Washington and getting involved in every aspect of our economy from the automotive industry to insurance.”

That painful realization has resulted in Welch campaigning for Congress.

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altGrabbing a notebook and pen from my bag in the back seat, I asked Esi, the program manager and driver today, to please brief me on the clients from TechnoServe's cotton program she and I were en route to visit. The Mpaka workshop, she told me, is one of the twelve workshops that TechnoServe has nationwide to train farmers on best practice methods of cotton production.

These nationwide workshops are a key part of the program strategy to revive Swaziland's cotton industry. They provide TechnoServe advisors an opportunity to improve the capacity of farmers to succeed in growing cotton by focusing on reducing their cost of production and increasing yields per hectare, two factors over which farmers have relative control.

The goal for the Mpaka workshop was to teach farmers the basics of effective pest control to ensure that farmers were both purchasing the right pesticides to control the pests in their fields and applying pesticides in the most educated and efficient way. By focusing on this topic today, at this stage of the crop's lifecycle, TechnoServe advisors can help farmers control a factor that can improve yields and income by as much as 50%.

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As a critical source of competitive advantage, innovation certainly deserves the attention it receives. But innovation is also notoriously difficult to manage. And while recognized innovators are widely admired for their achievements, every business leader knows that the pursuit of innovation is exceptionally challenging even as it is entirely necessary.

The roots of the problem lie in the fact that innovation takes place at the crossroads of two critical uncertainties: uncertainty about the future, and uncertainty about what will be best for our organization.

Given these issues, executives face two key questions:

  • First, What innovations should our organization be pursuing?
  • And second, How should we create them?
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pluGGd.inOne of the biggest challenges that startups face is undoubtedly – exposure. As a startup, you may offer great products and services but, unless people are aware of your offerings, it’s hard to gain any amount of business. Building a well rounded online identity can take your business to great lengths.

While most Indian startups (even corporations for that matter) offer great products and services, their online identities are downright dull when compared to the west. In this post, I’ll guide you through some tools that you might want to consider using to gain exposure on the web.

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Technology transferMost universities, academic institutions and not-for-profit research organizations now have technology transfer offices that bridge the divide between academia and industry. Our two interviewees this month discuss the career opportunities offered by this discipline.

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finney.jpgEconomic development organization Ann Arbor SPARK said today that it had helped 33 companies announce expansions in 2009 with plans to hire 2,118 workers.

SPARK released a report saying that its business support efforts had helped secure $147 million in investment for the region.

Among the highlights were California information technology startup Systems In Motion, which plans to hire more than 1,000 workers for an IT operation in Pittsfield Township, and engineering firm AVL Powertrain, which plans to hire 40 workers for an alternative propulsion technology operation.

SPARK is a public-private nonprofit partnership formed in 2005 by a coalition of universities, business leaders and political officials. The organization helps companies get business resources, connect with talent, find funding and secure state support.

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MIAMI — There's Peyton, then there's Payton, and in that order.

Peyton Manning is the marquee name in this Super Bowl. Sean Payton is the other Payton, the one getting second-billing behind the Indianapolis Colts' star quarterback and pitchman extraordinaire.

Yet the New Orleans Saints' head coach is making his own mark with creative, aggressive play-calling that has produced the NFL's top offence two straight seasons and three of the past four.

"He has an incredible knack for finding weaknesses and setting plays up and then taking advantage of opportunities that the defence presents. He's a very aggressive play caller," Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said. "What I mean by aggressive is he's just not one of those guys that is just going to settle for five-and six-yard passes. He's going to throw that thing deep on you often and early, so you have to be ready."

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