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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.

10 Small Business Trends and OpportunitiesWhat are some of the key trends affecting small businesses? And more importantly, what do these trends mean and what kind of opportunities will they lead to for your business?

These are the questions we answered in a recent webinar I hosted for the Intuit Community.

I was joined by a special guest: Ivana Taylor. We discussed 10 trends affecting large groups of small businesses.

Here’s a summary of the 10 trends we covered in the webinar:

1. “It’s the Software, Stupid” – The word “stupid” is not a word I typically use. But I couldn’t resist the play on words to emphasize a point. In this context it describes the accelerating growth of cloud computing, and the de-emphasis on hardware locally in small businesses. Now this does NOT mean we small businesses are going to go out and get rid of all of our servers this year. But it does mean we’re getting closer to the point where one day all we may need to run our businesses is to equip each employee with a computer, browser and Internet connection.
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Lack of a boss.


The lack of a higher authority to give you your next todo item is the single most-important factor that makes entrepreneurship so hard. In school, you have a clearly defined schedule and you have teachers who give you homework which provides something concrete to do everyday. Then they have exams, a definite end point of the whole yearly effort. In college, you have required classes, projects and exams that keep you sane and provide a safety net from being direction less.
Boss is always right, even if he is wrong
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CLEVELAND, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2009 Venture Capital Report for the Cleveland Plus Region announces that between 2005 and 2009, $1.1 billion has been invested by venture capitalists and angel investors in 183 unique companies in the region. In the last five years, these 183 Northeast Ohio companies have received 348 investments, contributing to the state of Ohio's 2009 ranking as a top ten state for investment deal activity.

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Northeast Ohio has also seen a number of exits over this same time frame, including: Hyland Software's acquisition by Thoma Cressey Bravo in 2007, MemberHealth's acquisition by Universal American in 2007 for $630 million, Brulant's acquisition by Rosetta in 2008, Theken Spine's acquisition by Integra Life in a deal valued up to $200 million in 2008, and AXENTIS' acquisition by Wolters Kluwer in 2009.

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Pennsylvania, like virtually every industrialized state, invests heavily through a large number of economic development incentives and technical assistance programs to promote job creation in high-technology industries. In normal economic times, such a diverse and costly set of expenditures would certainly merit scrutiny; with the nation’s deep recession depressing state and local government revenues for several years, there is far greater urgency now to ensure that such investments are effective.

This study examines the Commonwealth’s high-technology economic development efforts through several lenses, and compares them to those of six primary competitors in the so-called “economic war among the states”—the neighboring states of Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and West Virginia as well as North Carolina.

The study focuses on industrial sectors that all or most of the seven states have identified as strategic targets, including synthetic fibers, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, plastics, computers, semiconductors, electrical equipment, and transportation equipment.

In addition to case studies and program summaries, the study uses two unique analytical tools that have never been applied to Pennsylvania before and have only been used in published studies in a handful of other states.

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WITH the national unemployment rate at 10 percent, and more than 15 million Americans looking for work, ideas to spur job creation are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. While we may represent different political philosophies, we recognize that high unemployment — particularly long-term unemployment — is not a liberal problem or a conservative problem; it’s a national problem that takes a huge toll on families.

The idea for some sort of jobs tax credit is percolating again, but the jobs credit that existed in the late 1970s was of limited success, and it was excruciatingly complicated. Recalling this experience, members of Congress from both parties have been lukewarm to such a credit, and the idea was dropped from the stimulus package last year.
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Kentucky.com9 companies receive nearly $2.2 Million

State officials on Monday announced the recipients of its most recent round of funding for high-tech small businesses.

Nine Kentucky-based companies will share nearly $2.2 million in state funding as part of a program that matches two federal grant programs up to a certain dollar amount. This round of state awards comes on top of more than $6 million in federal funding to the firms, according to state officials.

Kentucky is the only state to match both phases of the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. The state offers up to $100,000 for Phase 1 federal awards for the grants and up to $500,000 per year for up to two years for Phase 2 federal awards.

At a recent high-tech conference, "there was a line of people from all around the world wanting to talk to people about this program," said Gov. Steve Beshear who spoke at the press conference recognizing the recipients on Monday.
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homepage.jpgHow do we know if we're building the strength and enhancing the vibrancy of the innovation economy in New England?

Talking with Avid Technology founder Bill Warner earlier this month, we decided that a scorecard might be handy. "If you can get people talking about things using the same terms, measuring things the same way, that's a first step to making progress," Warner said over cappuccinos at Simon's. It was the week after Quattro Wireless had been acquired by Apple for $275 million, and we were debating whether that will ultimately be a positive or negative deal for the local tech ecosystem: could Quattro instead have matured into a standalone company, a significant player in mobile media and advertising? How long will Apple keep the Quattro office in Waltham open?
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The Department of Defense announced topics in its 2010.A STTR pre-solicitation today. There are 30 Army Topics and 45 Navy Topics in this solicitation. Companies may review the topic lists found in the solicitation or utilize the DOD Topic Search engine to search specific details of a topic.

The STTR requires a partnership with a non-profit Research Institute (usually a university, but not always). The Research Institute must be subcontracted for at least 30% of the work, but not more than 60% of the work. Start early to build an appropriate relationship with the researcher and to develop a research agreement with the Research Institute.

Proposers are HIGHLY encouraged to make contact with the topic’s Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) prior to February 23rd to confidentially ask technical questions not found in the topic description (contact information for each TPOC is found in the topic description). After this date, questions may be asked publically in the DOD’s SITIS system. Final proposals are due no later than 6:00 AM on Wednesday, March 24th.
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Venture capital supply in Britain should shrink to prove itself says Atlas Ventures partner

THE supply of venture capital in Britain should shrink so that fund managers become more picky about which companies to back and more investors start to see positive returns, one prominent player in the industry has said.

Fred Destin, a partner with Atlas Ventures, which announced last week that it was relocating its investment team to the US, said that there were "too many average funds in Europe".

This meant that institutional investors like pension and insurance funds had rightly rationalised the number that they were prepared to back.
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Post PicOver the past year, I have been scouring the Internet for resources to help me grow my businesses. It is quite refreshing to discover and learn from others and hear stories from fresh perspectives, rather theory out of a book. Of course there are many ways to build a businesses and while many are figuring it out, the way we communicate is evolving right in front of our eyes. With the ammunition of a blog and a Flip cam, we are seeing many young entrepreneurs becoming prominent voices and in some cases niche leaders while building profitable businesses. In months and years not decades.

The team at Unstrapp’d has learned a great deal from our peers and we wanted to award and recognize our industry leaders. We have put together a list of blogs that have a message that can help a young entrepreneur grow their business and are written from the perspectives of young entrepreneurs. When you take a look at some of these blogs, you may find yourself scratching your head on how they make it look so easy and a few may just downright piss you off! However, after taking an open look into these bloggers experiences, you will find that much of their road is just like yours and their level of success is fully obtainable.
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3For some reason, I like wordsmithing and trying to make phrases smaller (while still retaining some meaning). Not long ago, when I was up much too late, I tried to come up with some of my best startup advice and see if I could reduce it down to exactly three words.3

One thing led to another, and I became obsessed with it. So obsessed, in fact, that I had put together 47 before I was able to make myself stop. While it’s likely not the most brilliant startup advice you’ve ever read – it has a decent chance of being the shortest.

Startup Triplets: Startup Advice In Exactly Three Words
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IT World Canada Logo The Ottawa-based Canadian Advanced Tech  nology Alliance (CATA Alliance) is using social networks to launch a discussion about the country’s innovation gap and amass feedback from the general public as to how to address it.

Taking a broad holistic approach to Canada’s state of innovation will ensure the discussion reaches beyond CATA and the IT community, said John Reid, president and CEO of the CATA Alliance. That will ensure, said Reid, that the issue is “embraced as a vision and a leadership theme that would be debated and discussed across the nation.”

In addition to reaching out to elected officials and businesses, CATA Alliance is taking advantage of the popularity and viral nature of social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook upon which to maintain the discussion.

Engaging the broad public will also mean that a multitude of facets regarding innovation will get covered in the dialogue, said Reid.
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MainframeMost people don’t realize this, but Northern California actually has two giant technology centers: Silicon Valley and Sacramento. Silicon Valley is the world’s entrepreneurship capital, and Sacramento is California’s State capital. They are less than 100 miles away from each other. But technologically, they’re light-years apart. While Silicon Valley’s workers conceive the next revolution in technology, Sacramento’s workers toil away at maintaining computer systems that were built in the tech equivalent of the Mesozoic era. Both depend on each other: Sacramento workers maintain the State’s infrastructure and public services, and the Valley’s workers generate the revenue to pay Sacramento salaries. The irony is that while the valley entrepreneurs desperately look for problems to solve, Sacramento has problems aplenty and no saviors in sight.

Witness the problems that the state experienced last November when it couldn’t issue checks to unemployed workers whose benefits had run out before Congress authorized a payment extension. Workers had to wait for up to two months to receive their checks, because the Employment Development Department couldn’t make timely changes to its computer systems. Like most of the State’s systems, these were built in the ’70s and ’80s in now antiquated computer languages like COBOL, Adabas Natural, Assembler, and PL/1. They run under operating systems like CICS and IMS.
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Suite101 Entrepreneurship and salesmanship have one thing in common. They both need to convince someone that a new product or service is needed. The entrepreneur does it by bringing his ideas to reality and the salesman sells it.

What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? While the world has advanced rapidly from what it was a mere hundred years ago, there is yet room for improvements and the entrepreneur is as much demand as he ever was. It's rare to find the man or woman that is willing to take a chance, sometimes to risk life and stake everything they have to bring a unique idea to life.
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The agriculture and agri-food sectors are closer to developing new business opportunities with a $7-million investment in the Atlantic Centre for Agricultural Innovation.

The province is contributing $500,000 for the first two phases and $4.5 million for the third phase of the project in Bible Hill's AgriTECH Park. The government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency, is contributing $2 million toward the first two phases of the new 20,000-square-foot facility.

The funding was announced today, Jan. 24, by Agriculture Minister John MacDonell and National Defence Minister Peter MacKay, on behalf of ACOA Minister Keith Ashfield.
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shark tank show ABC websiteThe British TV show Dragons' Den and its U.S. counterpart Shark Tank can be viewed as a less-than-real representation of the entrepreneurial experience.

On the shows, early-stage entrepreneurs have five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of five angel investors. Each panel-member then asks questions about the details of the business plan before individually deciding whether or not they will provide funding, in exchange for a percentage of the individual's company.

This might sound like "fundraising lite." But, in an article for BusinessWeek, Professor Scott Shane of Case Western Reserve University argues otherwise.
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Taiwan plans to issue `innovation vouchers' to boost R&D effortsTaipei, Jan. 25 (CNA) The government has decided to launch an "innovation voucher" program to encourage small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop new technologies and products in collaboration with research organizations, an official said Monday.

"If all goes smoothly, the program might be put into practice after the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday at the earliest, " said Lai Shan-kuei, director of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Administration under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

The program is patterned upon similar incentive projects adopted in the Netherlands, Singapore and the United States in an effort to help SMEs adapt and upgrade to survive in the ever-more competitive global market, Lai said.
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3 Sales Lessons from the Massachusetts Senate RaceNow I [Diane Helbig] am not a Republican nor a Democrat, and I do not live in Massachusetts. However, it seems that no matter who we are or where we live, those of us in the United States were watching the Senate special election on January 19, 2010. I know I was watching and learning.

For me, there are some stark sales lessons that can be learned from the experience.

1. Don’t take your current clients for granted

This is really Sales 101. Your current clients are your best revenue source. If you aren’t visiting with them your competition is. It is critically important for a salesperson (a.k.a. candidate) to ensure they are visiting with their current clients.

Remember, your current clients want to know that you value their business. They don’t want to feel that you have moved on to greener pastures now that you have captured their business. Martha Coakley thought she was secure with her current clients (a.k.a. Democrats) so she didn’t get in front of them enough.
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 Bill Gates Says Innovation Can Leverage ChangeThe needs of the poor are greater than the money available to help them, but that's not enough to discourage Bill Gates in his work as co-chair of the world's largest charitable foundation.

In his second annual letter, issued Monday, Gates says investment in science and technology can leverage those dollars and make more of a difference than charity and government aid alone.

In his 19-page letter, Gates says the foundation currently is backing 30 areas of innovation including online learning, teacher improvement, malaria vaccine development, HIV prevention, and genetically modified seeds.
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