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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.

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People often ask me if I have a mentor, someone who has influenced my thinking over my career. I have had many, but over the past thirty years I have learned a great deal about investing from the person I have come to refer to as The Smartest Man in Europe. The most important lessons he taught me were (1) that the primary force behind good performance is recognizing important changes before or just as they are starting to happen, and (2) when something significant is happening, put a lot of money behind it. Concentrate on the big ideas; don't over-diversify.

Image: http://online.barrons.com/ 

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In 20 Reasons to Start Your Own Business, serial entrepreneur Mike Templeman lists the pros of taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. He notes that it gives anyone regardless of age or education the ability to redefine their career. 

"Every time I sell a company, I'm presented with an opportunity to reinvent myself all over again," he writes. "On the flip side, if I had received my law degree, I'd be a lawyer (not a lot of room to recreate myself)."

 

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Someone asked me earlier this year if I had simply gone to a facilitation training class, swiped the content, renamed it Brainzooming, and opened up shop.

My answer was an emphatic, “Definitely not!”

What has become the Brainzooming methodology developed from a wide variety of sources.  It evolved into a tested approach for developing strategy that takes full advantage of the diverse inspirations from which its strategic thinking exercises originated.

 

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People and computers are coming together in all kinds of interesting ways these days. The right combination of human and digital smarts in chess will beat the top grandmaster, the best chess supercomputer, and the top grandmaster with the best supercomputer. At least one VC firm is giving an algorithm a formal vote on its investments. And robots (which I consider to be computers with a physical presence) are increasingly working side by side with people on factory and warehouse floors.

 

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Not all jobs are equally easy to fill. It’s an obvious point, but one that sometimes gets missed in the debate over whether the American economy is suffering from a “skills gap.” Companies complain that there is a shortage of talent, economists counter that if that were true it would be evidenced by rising wages. With wages stagnant, where’s the skills gap?

Image: http://blogs.hbr.org/ 

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If you have trouble resisting the impulse to check your smartphone while you’re out with friends or having dinner on a date, this table might help: By literally strapping two people together for the duration of the meal, it forces them to pay attention to each other.

“With more and more people addicted to mobile technology, it happens more frequently that people have meals absentmindedly,” says designer Michael Jan, who created the Napkin Table along with fellow industrial design students at Tunghai University in Taiwan. “This inspired us to consider what ideal dining is, and figure out if there is a new dining experience that can draw attention back to the dining table.”

Image: http://www.fastcoexist.com/ 

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Newer wisdom in venture capital circles is that some of the best investors are those who have started or run companies themselves. Before he became an investor, Stuart Larkins was a founding member of advertising tech startup Performics, which DoubleClick acquired in 2004, before Google bought DoubleClick. When Larkins and partner Kevin Willer launched Chicago Ventures in 2013, they aimed to bring operations know-how along with their funds and connections. Larkins explains why founders need more than money to succeed.

Image: Stuart Larkins, Chicago Ventures (Chicago Ventures photo) 

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Zhang Yue, chairman and CEO of Broad Group, is not one to shy away from ambitious targets. In 2010, his prefabricated construction company, Broad Sustainable Building, completed a six-story building, Broad Pavilion, at the Shanghai Expo in one day. He continued to challenge this feat by building two more structures at record paces—the 15-story Ark Hotel in less than one week and the 30-story T30 tower and hotel in 15 days. His latest ambition is to build the world’s tallest structure. Known as Sky City, the 202-story steel skyscraper is expected to be magnitude-9 earthquake resistant and energy efficient. Ninety percent of the structure is being built at a factory and just 10 percent assembled on site. 

 

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NewImageEveryone is trying to create the next Silicon Valley.”

That’s what Salim Teja, managing director of the ICT Services Group at MaRS, says to me as we chat over the phone. The conversation mirrors a recent Atlantic article called “Why the ‘Next Silicon Valley’ Is Always Silicon Valley.” Both Teja and Derek Thompson, the author of the article, have similar points: replicating the success of Silicon Valley somewhere else is going to be difficult and perhaps impossible.

Image: Shirin Habibi, Tariq Haddadin and Amie Sergas of the MaRS Business Acceleration Program – Tanja Tiziana 

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The Great American Novel—it’s a familiar phrase. It probably even rings a bell for people who’ve never read any "masterpieces" of American fiction. But what novel is the Great American one?

Lawrence Buell won’t say, and good for him. Answering the question would miss the point of asking it. The nation’s literary community, Buell writes, has never actually wanted to find its "single once-and-for-all supernovel." Instead, the Great American Novel should be thought of as "a horizon to be grasped after, approximated, but never reached, a game that writers, readers, publishers all want to keep on playing." It’s an occasion for conversation, not a title for bestowing.

Image Courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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After baby loggerhead turtles hatch, they wait until dark and then dart from their sandy nests to the open ocean. A decade or so later they return to spend their teenage years near those same beaches. What the turtles do and where they go in those juvenile years has been a mystery for decades. Marine biologists call the period the “lost years.”

Image: http://www.scientificamerican.com 

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