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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.

It’s a good time to be an angel. With venture capital in the dumps, Bay Area angel investing groups say the quantity and quality of potential deals coming through the door is up as entrepreneurs are forced to look for alternatives.

“We’re getting some very interesting deal flow that would have gone to traditional venture capitalists in the past,” said Randy Williams, founder and CEO of the Keiretsu Forum, which has 350 members in Northern California. “What’s happening is the venture capitalists are focused on existing companies and the limited partners are not giving them additional capital.”

Ian Sobieski, a founder and managing director of Menlo Park-based Band of Angels Fund LP, which has 125 members, sees a similar trend.

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Georges van HoegaerdenCHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A fantastic television ad by Ally Bank, in my view best describes how Limited Partners (LPs) as the investors committed to Venture have been fooled.

In the event you have not seen the video, it shows a slick man in a business suit sitting cosily around a kids table with two little girls.

The suit then asks one girl if she would want a pony. When she replies yes, he hands her a toy pony. He then moves on to the second girl and asks her if she wants a pony, and then calls in a real pony. Clearly the first girl is upset that she did not get a real pony and complains, upon which the man replies, "well, you didn't ask."

What Pony Did You Ask for, by Virtue of Your Actions?

That is exactly what has happened to LPs in Venture who did not ask the specific questions that could have led to their success in Venture. In many cases those LPs failed to generate impressive returns in Venture because they did not know they had to ask specific questions and should have taken control of the situation in order to get the results that the sector is able to generate.

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Here’s an example of how a small innovation can have a substantial beneficial impact: Heinz redesigns its ketchup packets to hold three times as much ketchup, and to be squeezed or dipped. No more ketchup splurts on clothes, no more having to get three packets to get as much as you’d like, no more having to open the ketchup for your kids. And, of course, as a Pittsburgher I am doubly proud of this redesign.

Seriously. It’s little innovations like this, and like my other favorite example, the non-drip top on laundry detergent bottles, that bubble up from the market and, in aggregate, are great evidence for the plenitude of free enterprise.

The new packet is also cute, which doesn’t hurt …

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The ACCC Applied Research Symposium convened in Ottawa these past two days, offering an opportunity for college researchers and administrators to discuss the maturing of the applied research sector. Highlights included talks by the presidents of SSHRC and NSERC, and VPs from CIHR and CFI. The message common to all three was the need to involve end users or end points in research. That is, research should be applied and involve those who will use the results at the outset, as well as be concerned with the downstream effects or implications. Applied research, according to the Frascati Manual, includes original investigation, but is focused on solving problems. This is the design behind setting national research priorities. Fostering a national research agenda that articulates complementary organizations into a network value chain will help us increase social and economic productivity by more effectively translating the investments we make in R&D in meaningful outcomes where this is applicable. This is especially important given that the Conference Board of Canada has once again given Canada's innovation capacity a "D" grade, saying "The Canadian economy remains a below-average performer on its capacity to innovate."

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PishevarHe's not giving up his day job, but entrepreneur and investor Shervin Pishevar is getting props for a rap homage to Silicon Valley he penned.

"Platform" was inspired by and samples from rapper Jay Z's "A Star is Born." Instead of “clap for 'em,” Pishevar substituted the word “platform.”

Pishevar, founder of Social Gaming Network, put the video together with the help of GreetBeatz -- a startup that creates songs for customers with professional rappers. The video features cameos from some of Silicon Valley's brightest young entrepreneurs including Causes' Joe Green, Blippy's Philip Kaplan and Flixster's Joe Greenstein. It also tells some of the stories that have become Silicon Valley lore, such as the genesis of Facebook.

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Facebook is barreling down on its rivals, threatening to become U.S. web users' home on the web.

Time spent on Facebook soared to 27.6 billion minutes in December, up from 17.8 billion minutes in October, according to data from comScore. (In December 2008, it was just 9.3 billion minutes.)

Google, where users spent 36 billion minutes in December, managed consistent slow growth in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, online rivals like Yahoo, Microsoft, and MySpace are all down.

It's especially ugly for Yahoo.

chart of the day, minutes spent on leading websites per month, 
2009 data
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altA spin-off initiative of the Technology Transfer Office of France's Ecole Polytechnique, PRESANS connects industrial technology needs to a professional network of experts and researchers. It works in three steps:

  1. Translate: the PRESANS scientific committee, composed of senior R&D specialists, translates the industrial need into a scientific problem (challenge).
  2. Broadcast: this challenge is then broadcast to the global network of experts.
  3. Connect: finally the author of the best proposal or solution receives the reward or is connected to the client.

PRESANS is currently working with several industrial clients to start tackling R&D challenges in the near future.

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BusinessWeek Logo FRIDAY. Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Your birthday may affect your odds of becoming a professional athlete, a new study suggests.

An Australian researcher analyzed the birthdays of Australian Football League (AFL) players and found that many were born in the early months of the year, while far fewer were born in the later months.

The Australian school year begins in January, noted Dr. Adrian Barnett, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology.

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Silicon Valley celebrates its successes, but the failure rate is generally much, much higher. But what makes the Valley different than other entrepreneur-rich areas is how it deals with those failures. Randy Komisar of Kleiner Perkins, in this entrepreneur though leader lecture given at Stanford University, says that only a company that can deal with failure and still make money has any chance of succeeding. The talk’s an old one – from 2004 – but the themes still resonate today.

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[The Deal Professor by Steven M. Davidoff] The time for regulatory reform is nigh. The bulk of attention is directed at financial institutions and addressing systemic risk, but private equity is being caught in the regulatory wave. Current regulatory proposals have the potential to change the way private equity conducts business both domestically and internationally. Here are some of the significant issues:

The first possible regulatory change is the registration of private equity fund advisers. The current proposed House financial regulatory bill eliminates the “private adviser” exemption previously relied upon by many private equity funds to avoid registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other requirements under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

The House bill takes away this exemption and requires any adviser to a “private fund” to, among other items, register with the S.E.C. and become subject to S.E.C. examination. The House bill also creates a new exemption from these requirements for private equity firms with assets less than $150 million and venture capital funds. The Senate bill eliminates this exemption but then sets up a new exemption for private equity funds and family offices. Both these terms are to be defined by the S.E.C., as is what a venture capital fund is. The Senate bill also exempts funds with less than $100 million in assets under management.

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Today, Athena Alliance is releasing a new Policy Brief Intellectual Capital and Revitalizing Manufacturing which makes a number of recommendations to directly incorporate intellectual capital into a manufacturing strategy and best position the United States for accelerated job, productivity, and economic growth in the coming years.
The Policy Brief takes as its starting point the White House paper released last December -- A Framework for Revitalizing American Manufacturing.  The Administration's Framework makes an excellent case that the federal government has a strong role to play in reinvigorating this important sector of the U.S. economy. It outlines the challenges facing manufacturing while describing the opportunities in new product areas. However, the ongoing transformation in manufacturing to a knowledge-intensive activity will require attention to all the inputs to the production process technology, worker skills, and  organizational structures. The Framework recognizes that the nature of the economy has changed and implicitly accepts this basic premise. Intellectual capital, such as patents from research and development as well as managerial know-how, the document states, is a vital component in determining costs, growth rates and the creation of new industries. But while patents and managerial know-how are important components, a successful manufacturing framework must embrace the full range of intellectual capital and intangible assets. 

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MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning is researching how economic development organizations are working with small businesses to address market opportunities or needs related to global climate change and the “green economy.” The department is currently looking for economic development organizations to complete a brief, voluntary survey relating to "green" programs and activities. Please take 10 minutes to complete this brief, voluntary survey. Results will be shared with the economic development community and be made publicly available. Questions regarding this survey may be sent to Karl Seidman or (617) 253-3964 or Rebecca Economos.

Council of Development Finance Agencies
815 Superior Avenue
Suite 1301
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Phone: (216) 920-3073
Fax: (216) 771-4938
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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SSTI:  Budget OverviewAs in any budget there are winners and losers, but for the tech-based economic development community, there are far more winners than losers in the Obama Administration's FY11 budget proposal. Percentages referenced in this summary reflect the change from FY10 appropriations.

Among the winners:

  • * The National Science Foundation, NIST laboratories, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science continue on the path to doubling their budgets.
  • * The Administration tries to move regional innovation and clusters forward with proposals in a number of agencies, including:
  • $75 million in the Economic Development Administration in the Department of Commerce for regional planning and matching grants within EDA to support the creation of Regional Innovation Clusters
  • $135 million in budget authority at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a Regional Innovation Initiative for rural communities which could translate to $280 million in program activities
    $108 million at the Department of Labor for the proposed Workforce Innovation Fund that would provide funding for the demonstration of promising new ideas and for the replication of proven practices
    $11 million at the Small Business Administration to support enhanced small business participation in regional economic clusters by awarding competitive grants to facilitate greater coordination of resources
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Ten middle-income non-BRIC countries have emerged from the worldwide economic crisis collectively as the third largest force in the global economy after the US and European Union, according to a report from consulting group A.T. Kearney.

Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, Poland, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Iran, Argentina and Thailand had a collective GDP (in purchasing power parity) of $8.8 trillion in 2008.

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"I am investing in several ideas outside the foundation" Bill Gates noted in the annual Gates Foundation letter.

So where is one of the the worlds richest men investing his own money since leaving Microsoft?

Energy technology is one sector, an area where Gates has indicated he is spending a great deal of effort.

In the interview below, Gates told a reporter that he invested $20 million in Vinod Khosla's green business fund.

Author: CNET Video

When large waves hit the landscape the subsequent results change the landscape.

There is a swelling wave of social technology that is indeed changing the business landscape. From Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the host of other social platforms conversations from the masses, both on-line and off-line have become mainstream.

The subsequent impacts initially have a lot of people wondering what all this means while a few think and create where it is going. For businesses the critical issue remains one of “what will you do” as a result of all this on-line and off-line activity fueled by peoples interest in this thing called “social media“? To properly answer the question smart companies are stepping back from all the chatter and thinking through what is the best strategy for leveraging all this “social stuff” for the long term. At the same time most organizations are simply jumping in without thinking through the strategic implications and subsequently all they are doing is fueling the chatter with meaningless content.

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Nokia has announced $ 1 million venture challenge to encourage innovators to create a mobile product or service that raises the standard of living or enhances the lives of those in growth economies, says a press release.

Announcing the Growth Economy Venture Challenge, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo called on innovators across the globe to become a part of a revolution by bringing mobile solutions to the parts of the world that can benefit most.

The Challenge will consider any submission that enhances the target growth economy and also provides a potential return on the investment.

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SO YOU’RE sitting down for your daily helping of soap opera, you don a pair of 3D specs in front of your 100-inch plasma TV and the mundane dramas of Fair City are transformed. Cars in Main Street seem to park themselves in your living room, pints at McCoy’s fly over the counter and threaten to poke you in the eye; Ray O’Connell’s moustache almost seems to tickle your chin.

It might take a few years for three-dimensional technology to reach Carrigstown, but the future is already on the way, if Japan’s consumer electronics giants are to be believed. Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba are all set to roll out 3D-TVs and accessories this year in a bid to capitalise on the global popularity of James Cameron’s sci-fi eco opera Avatar.

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