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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.

With IPOs hard to come by, venture investors look to mergers and acquisitions for most of their exits. That’s been an argument for smaller fund sizes because corporate acquirers don’t normally pay $1 billion for start-ups. For a $200 million fund, a $250 million exit looks mighty fine.

But even those are rare, more so today than a decade ago. Our colleagues at Dow Jones VentureSource looked at the percentage of mergers and acquisitions since 2000 that were valued at $250 million or more and found they accounted for a mere 5.1% of venture-backed companies sold during the period.

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Together, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Quebec government have pledged more than $62 million for new state-of-the-art research infrastructure to support the work of five McGill researchers deemed key to keeping Canada and Quebec competitive in the global marketplace:

  • Vincent Giguère (Department of Biochemistry, working in the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Centre) for a major collaborative project to probe the links between the progression of cancer, obesity and cachexia.
  • Paul Lasko (Department of Biology) for the MIRGED research group on embryology and disease, a co-initiative of McGill and the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal.
  • Chao-Jun (C.J.) Li (Department of Chemistry) for a com pre hensive project to move the field of organic chemistry toward using environmentally sound solvents.
  • David Plant (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) for the Laboratories for Broadband Optical and Wireless Systems to adjust existing communications net works in order to handle increased connectivity needs.
  • David Y. Thomas (Department of Biochemistry) for the McGill University Life Sciences Complex’s Disease to Therapy Initiative, which aims to develop new medications for neglected infections and chronic diseases.

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BOOK REVIEW: The very recently published book Innovation: The Key to Prosperity - Technology and America's Role in the 21st Century Global Economy by Aris Melissaratos and N.L. Slabbert is quite the interesting and nugget packed book. Taken aback, this Blogger was, by the advocacy of MagLev train technology as a means to spark a transport revolution in America at the start of the book.

Maybe it was from the experience riding the Shanghi MagLev the past July; or, perhaps, it is my SiFi-thing of utilization of MagLev trains on the Moon to boost payload to orbit, I don't know. But this Blogger was impressed by the notion that MagLev technology should be pushed by the nation as a new alternative for rapid transport.
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No one disputes that Silicon Valley is the global capital of the tech world. But this wasn’t always so. It is the Valley’s dynamism and networks which have given it an unassailable advantage. Silicon Valley has simply left rivals like Boston’s Route 128 in the dust.

I mentioned a little bit about my first Columbus Day in California in a previous column. But I didn’t tell you the whole story. I was invited to three amazing events on the night of October 12. Venture capital firm Alsop-Louie—known as one of the wackier and unconventional VC firms—invited me to their legendary Columbus Day party. On that same evening I had an invite from Henry Chesbrough, Executive Director of the Center for Open Innovation at the University of California-Berkeley to attend a dinner party for his forum. Down in Silicon Valley I also had an invite to speak at an event with India’s former Minister of Disinvestment, Arun Shorie—the guy who was once in charge of privatizing the country’s moribund nationalized firms and who is as close as you can get to financial royalty in India.


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Nine in ten companies, globally, consider innovation as critical to preparing for the upturn. And despite the recession, the world's leading corporate innovators increased research and development spending in 2008, says a study.

Dr Hatem Samman, Director, Ideation Centre, Booz & Company's think tank in the Middle East, told Emirates Business: "Innovation is not a choice, it is imperative as it is the way forward. Innovation is important not just for companies but also for countries and individuals. Where will we be without it? It is especially important for companies as it helps them increase their market share, boosts growth and increases prosperity. For example, let's take the example of computers, one of the great innovations of our times.


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One of the academic advisers on my dissertation committee was vigilant against personal bias. He went (probably still does) so far as to recommend studying a place you hated. In geography, most scholars do research in a location they love, which might cause you to push your work towards expected results. A tool that can help a scholar guard against seeing what you want to see is the null hypothesis:

Retaining talent is an effective approach to regional workforce development.

Instead of debunking brain drain myths, I look for an underlying rationale for the concern and functioning brain drain plugs. For example, brain drain is costly:


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A dedicated business support project is to help over 90 small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in North East England weather the economic downturn and prepare for recovery over the next two years.

The £1.2m project, ‘Innovation, Advice and Guidance – Developing SME Expertise’, will put in place a matching service and public subsidy to give SMEs and social enterprises access to expert advisors to help develop new products, processes and services.

It will also help regional companies retain their skilled staff with a view to driving forward a new phase of economic growth once the recession is over.


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The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) has signed an agreement with the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), establishing the 'Department of Economic Development Dean of Entrepreneurship'.

The agreement was signed in Abu Dhabi by HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology and HE Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

The three year commitment by DED is to sponsor a Dean of Entrepreneurship who will be responsible for the HCT Executive MBA in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. This unique program was developed in close cooperation with MIT Entrepreneurship Center. The HCT EMBA program features the best professors from leading institutions around the world including Harvard, Stanford and MIT.


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There is an assumption in many organisations that focusing on innovation processes is a kind of industrialisation of innovation, that with the right processes, then you don’t need to worry about employing genuinely innovative people, anyone can and will be successful within a great process.

And it’s true, up to a point: especially when the focus is upon optimising existing products and services. But when the environment changes radically, then the issue of having the right people to innovate becomes important.

I have noticed that innovation consultancies tend to focus upon time-intensive innovation process consultation with a few useful techniques thrown in. This is because whilst they help to focus attention on developing a shared understanding of an agreed approach to turning an invention into an innovation, and on the need to understand customers’ needs, such consulting enables at least 5 additional benefits:


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SHANGHAI should push forward the development of its service industry and advance innovation, Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday.

He said the fundamental way to sustain the economy was to get closer to people and raise their living standards to create consumption demand.

"Shanghai must build a service-led economy," Han said at the 21st International Business Leaders' Advisory Council.


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The United States private venture capital industry has entered a period of significant change and decline. The industry is rapidly becoming dramatically smaller and less able to foster the development of innovative, early stage businesses. The argument that these changes are just part of the normal business cycle is superficially appealing. In light of private venture capital’s importance to the U.S. economy, however, leaving the industry to self-adjust is not good economic policy.

Over the last 30 years, the private venture capital industry has been a primary driver for technology company creation, intellectual property commercialization and small business employment in the United States. Simultaneously, the federal government has played a strong role as a driver of basic research and intellectual property creation. The symbiotic relationship between the federal government’s encouraging invention and the private venture capital market’s financing of innovation has created new industries and commercialized a wide range of technologies.

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PROVIDENCE — In looking to plug the incessant drain that happens each spring when newly minted college graduates flee Rhode Island for bigger metropolises, this state might do well to take a lesson from Philadelphia, experts say.

Back in the 1990s, the City of Brotherly Love struggled with that image. Its universities were first rate and attracted students from around the world, but after graduation, the vast majority of those youngsters took flight for places like New York and Chicago.

It wasn’t that anything was wrong with Philadelphia; it just didn’t have enough to keep them there.
“Statistics say the more students you get engaged in internships as early as you can, the higher retention rate you’re going to have because they know the businesses and they get more comfortable with the work environment within that community,” said Richard Bendis, founding president and chief executive officer of Innovation America, a public private partnership that worked on the Philadelphia project.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009 – 8:00am – 1310 Longworth – Open

The Defense Acquisition Reform Panel will meet to receive testimony on Can DOD Improve Innovation and Competition in Acquisition by Better Utilizing Small Business?

Ms. Linda Oliver (pdf)
Acting Director, Office of Small Business Programs
U.S. Department of Defense
Mr. Calvin Jenkins (pdf)
Deputy Associate Administrator, Government Contracting and Business Development
U.S. Small Business Administration

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, yesterday pledged to promote entrepreneurship and education reform as part of his push to raise economic growth to 7 per cent by the end of his term in 2014.

Speaking after being sworn in for a second term last week , Mr Yudhoyono also promised to streamline government bureaucracy. He said successful implementation of his plans would reduce unemployment to 6 per cent from 8 per cent. His efforts would lower the poverty level to as low as 8 per cent from 14 per cent.

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PRLog (Press Release) – Oct 30, 2009 – Diego Sánchez, the director of the “Centro Integral de Servicios Empresariales” (Comprehensive Center for Business Services) CreaMe, located in Medellín, Colombia, visited the International Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 3IE of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María for one week. The objective of the internship was to internalize the processes, incubation model, team, the Institute´s portfolio of projects, and sources of financing. On top of that, he participated in an entrepreneurship workshop, met with entrepreneurs and shared his experiences in Colombia.

CreaMe is a business incubator that started in 1996. Their objective is to generate an entrepreneurial culture, create and strengthen businesses in Colombia. Diego Sánchez is the director of business development. With respect to their methodology he added that, “we work using a system called nodes that are specialized units of business accompaniment to cover any type of services. The special feature is that this is done in alliance with a third party that has identified market or technological needs. Together we work on the entrepreneurial processes and give more potential to the entrepreneurs.”

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As reported to you on Oct 26, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) were able to get the Senate to pass S. 1929 that extends SBIR/STTR for all agencies (except DoD which was handled separately) for 6 months, expiring on April 30, 2010. The bill was then sent to the House for a vote.

Naturally, Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), chair of the House Small Business Committee (SBC), didn't see eye to eye with the Senate, so she amended the bill by changing 6 months to 3 with an expiration date of January 31, 2010. With the short leash of the current October 31, 2009 expiration, and the fact that the House will not meet on Friday, the Senate will concur with the amendment and the President will sign this new Continuing Resolution (CR).

Bottom line, the SBIR/STTR programs will be extended through January 31, 2010, except for the DoD which was addressed separately by the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, and run through September 30, 2010.

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One of the area’s economic-growth engines is faltering.

The process of turning discoveries by researchers at area universities into commercial products and services is being hampered by a lack of funding, according to people familiar with it.

“There is an enormous amount of innovation in the Delaware Valley in all sectors of science and business models, but the early-stage financing capability is drying up,” said David Freschman, founder and manager of Innovation Ventures, an early-stage venture-capital firm based in Wilmington.

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This may be the best time in years for an investor to become an angel. But that doesn't mean you should rush out to get yourself fitted for wings and a halo.

An angel investor is anyone who privately provides capital to a promising business, often a start-up, that isn't run by a friend or family member. Scott Shane, an economist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, estimates that the U.S. has at least 140,000 active angels who collectively invest some $20 billion a year in new businesses.

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Oct 30, 2009 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- Good morning Chairman Andrews, Ranking Member Conaway, and Committee Panel Members. I am Linda Oliver, Acting Director of the Office of Small Business Programs of the Department of Defense.

Thank you for inviting me to address the ways in which the Department of Defense (DoD) can improve innovation and competition in acquisition by better utilizing small businesses. The first key word - innovation - is what small businesses do best. The second topic - competition in acquisition - is the primary reason we nurture small business activities in the Department of Defense.


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