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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.


VOL 7. No 38  SEPTEMBER 28 2009

An imressive collection of top global experts participated in the National Energy Summit and International Dialogue, organized by the Council on Competitiveness (COC), and held Sept.23-24 in Washington DC. Over 350 invited participants took part in the summit, which was also webcast.

Under a theme of Driving Competitiveness Through Sustainable Energy, the event first explored how future US economic prosperity is inextricably tied to the ability to create a sustainable and balanced energy system, and the pivotal role to be played in this transformation by the private sector in terms of speedy action and scale.

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New ITIF Report:
"Designed for Change: End-to-End Arguments, Internet Innovation, and the Net Neutrality Debate"

Many advocates of strict net neutrality regulation argue that the Internet has always been a “dumb pipe” and that Congress should require that it remains so. A new report by ITIF Research Fellow Richard Bennett reviews the historical development of the Internet architecture and finds that contrary to such claims, an extraordinarily high degree of intelligence is embedded in the network core. Indeed, the fact that the Internet was originally built to serve the needs of the network research community but has grown into a global platform of commerce and communications was only made possible by continuous and innovative Internet engineering. In the new ITIF report Designed for Change: End-to-End Arguments, Internet Innovation, and the Net Neutrality Debate, Bennett traces the development of the Internet architecture from the CYCLADES network in France to the present, highlighting developments that have implications for Internet policy. This review will help both engineers and policymakers separate the essentials from the incidentals, identify challenges to continued evolution, and develop appropriate policy frameworks.

Read the report

Report release event audio and video

Managers wondering how to make their organisations more innovative should look at Davila and company’s fine book, Making Innovation Work, not least because it contains many real-world examples.

As a lifelong fan of the Marx Brothers (I loved them at age eight, and I love them in my forties), I was delighted to read his take on Groucho Marx and in particular his assessment of their act as not being about innate creative talent or effortless idea-generation at all but about hard graft and a willingness to try things out.
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The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has taken the next step in setting up the UK Innovation Investment Fund (UK IIF), a venture capital fund of funds to support the UK's technology companies. Capital for Enterprise Ltd. will release the Request for Proposals (RFP) for prospective Fund of Fund managers for the UK UF. The RFP is a key milestone in delivering the fund as it sets out the parameters for the fund and details the information expected from prospective Fund of Fund managers. The RFF will ask potential Fund Managers to target the sectors of the future, such as life sciences. Low carbon, digital and advanced manufacturing. Success in these sectors is key to the UK Government's industrial strategy to create highly skilled jobs as Britain emerges out of the global downturn . The RFP will also ask Fund Managers how they will raise money from private sector investors to create the largest technology Fund in Europe.

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China is embarking on a new, parallel path of clean power deployment and innovation. It is the Sputnik of our day. Unfortunately, we’re still not racing.

Most people would assume that 20 years from now when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was the Great Recession. I’d hold off on that. If we can continue stumbling out of this economic crisis, I believe future historians may well conclude that the most important thing to happen in the last 18 months was that Red China decided to become Green China.

Yes, China’s leaders have decided to go green — out of necessity because too many of their people can’t breathe, can’t swim, can’t fish, can’t farm and can’t drink thanks to pollution from its coal- and oil-based manufacturing growth engine. And, therefore, unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.
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Dubai, September 27, 2009: TechnoPark, the science and technology facilitator of Economic Zones World has been appointed as an affiliate member of the World Business Angels Association (WBAA), the Brussels based international community of business angel networks and leaders.

The WBAA, launched at the Dubai Institute of Technology SMEs Forum held in Dubai in April this year, was set up for the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship through the financing of high growth start-up companies with the support of Business Angels worldwide.

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State and local business organizations have launched a venture-capital "fund of funds" that aims to raise up to $200 million to finance small high-tech Arizona companies that aspire to become the future Microsofts and Googles of the world.

The private fund, which could begin releasing money by mid-2010, will zero in on innovative startup firms in areas such as information technology, life sciences and solar that can create high-paying, high-quality jobs.

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I invite everyone to read President Obama’s new Innovation Strategy document and see for yourself if it adds up. To me, it is a list of priorities, important priorities to be sure, that are just stitched together in one document and called “innovation.”

It is chock full of talk about information technology, sustainability, open markets, and clean energy, stuff engineers from Silicon Valley love to champion. I champion all that too. It is chock full of all the reasons why the US is in danger of losing its economic preemience. This, too, I applaud for its veracity. But these pieces don’t add up to a national innovation strategy.

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Innovation can only be encouraged, managed, tracked and measured if it is a core element in organizations growth aspirations. So it needs to be fully integrated into the strategic-management agenda and the executives top down need so as to create the conditions that allow a more dynamic innovating environment to emerge by setting out and providing the context. The very same people must be explicit in their steps to foster an innovation culture where trust, ideas are valued, these can be freely expressed and can help oversee risk collectively.

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Industry Minister Tony Clement's review of the sale of Nortel Networks Corp.'s enterprise-solutions unit to Avaya Inc. under the Investment Canada Act is a flaccid gesture that masks Canada's larger failure to actively court, develop or retain flagship innovators.

The review was triggered because Nortel's accountants deemed the book value of the assets to be above the act's $312-million threshold. Avaya has yet to make the concrete job commitments that would reassure Mr. Clement that the deal is of "net benefit" to Canada (the criterion for approval). Avaya spokeswoman Lynn Buckley said that Avaya was "committed to maintaining" two Nortel research facilities, but would not comment on a report last week that up to 400 of 1,000 jobs were at risk.

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Could following the next steps toward California's new clean-energy economy really lead to burdensome regulations and increased job loss? Or, instead, will the implementation of AB 32, the groundbreaking road map to that future, more likely lead to further innovation and leadership?

How we answer these timely questions could determine our state's economic future.

We cannot ignore that even with its recent fiscal woes, California has been leading a national transformation for decades in the ways we use energy, communicate, conduct business and think about innovation. Why would anyone want to impose a moratorium on our future?

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Who would have believed that the country with the highest mobile subscription rate worldwide (138% as per World Economic Forum’s World Competitiveness report), the broadest high-speed mobile broadband coverage and the densest network of public internet access points in Europe is the small nation of Lithuania, sandwiched between Latvia, Belarus, Poland, Kaliningrad and the Baltic sea?

Prompted by comments I heard on numerous occasions (including geeky ArcticStartup and TechCrunch events), and equally inspired by the enthusiastic entrepreneurial community in Lithuania, I thought I’ll share a few facts.

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Last week’s Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit was teeming with experts. They offered points and opinions on so many topics, with data to back it all up. Here, some of our favorite stats:

1. The No. 1 quality that successful business leaders have in common is that they started a business at a young age. –Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) (Click for video of Summit interview with Buffett.)

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The longer you hang around a subject, the more interesting the rumors and misperceptions. Innovation seems to spawn a number of fallacies, probably because it is very important, haphazardly performed and misunderstood by management. The combination of importance, carelessness and ignorance probably spawns a lot of fallacies. In fact, it sounds a lot like teen sex in a way.

One interesting new fallacy that seems to be making the rounds is that "open innovation" is easier and cheaper than innovation within the four walls of your organization. Open innovation can drive more ideas, and in many cases simply bypasses the bureaucracy and sloth of an organization to attract a number of people from outside the organization. In this manner open innovation can be faster, but it is not cheaper or less expensive, nor does it require fewer resources. Open innovation just shifts the costs from an innovation team, or R&D, to legal, IP and business development. If your legal, IP and business development teams have more bandwidth or lower cost than your innovation or R&D teams, perhaps this is a logical tradeoff. But don't expect open innovation to dramatically reduce the cost of innovation.

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TRENTON – Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced the launch of the New Jersey Patent Bank, a new Web portal designed to spur innovation in New Jersey and foster technology transfer between the state’s academic and business communities.

“New Jersey’s rich history of scientific research and discovery has had a profound impact on our state, our nation and our world,” Governor Corzine said. “The Patent Bank gives users access to the wealth of cutting-edge research available all over the state, particularly in our academic and research institutions. This is the exactly the type of innovation we must encourage to remain competitive in the global economy.”

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Judging from the flurry of venture-capital deals, big oil company investments, and attention from politicians on startups creating biofuels from algae, it might seem like the world has fallen in love with the technology to power vehicles with pond scum. But after all of the algae euphoria this summer, we’ve started seeing a few signs of an algae fuel backlash, with several prominent investors publicly questioning the economics of algae fuel.

At the AlwaysOn’s GoingGreen conference, outspoken cleantech investor Vinod Khosla said his firm has aggressively been looking at algae technologies, but hasn’t found one viable plan after looking at “maybe two dozen.” “The economics of algae don’t seem to work,” he said. (You can watch the video here by clicking on “Renewables at Scale.”)

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If you are a Early Stage Startup, your chances are of getting VC or Private Equity funding is very slim and numbers prove it – Only 9% of all the VC / PE deals have been for early stage companies between 2004 to 2008. This is especially true during the times of recession. Venture Capitalists play it safe and hardly venture in funding a early stage startups.

These are the findings of “India Venture Capital & Private Equity Report 2009”, created by Thillai Rajan & Ashish Deshmukh of IIT, Madras. The report analysis in detail the venture capital and Private Equity funding in India between 2004 to 2008.

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Happy Friday! The Commerce Department will establish a new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to help small businesses grow faster, part of the Obama administration's new $100 billion innovation agenda announced earlier this week. The administration is especially interested in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs as statistics suggest businesses less than five years old accounted for nearly all private sector employment growth from 1980 to 2005.

The new office will report directly to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and help coordinate the federal government's efforts to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into actual products, companies and jobs. It will also focus on education, training and mentoring issues; improving access to capital for small businesses; and help create government-backed incentives for entrepreneurs and potential investors.

Locke will also lead a new national advisory council on entrepreneurship and innovation, stacked with various experts in the field.

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The quick news is the informal conference committee hasn't done its job and no SBIR Reauthorization compromise was produced. SBIR (this time along with STTR and the DOD's CPP) has been extended again -- a mere month to October 31st. Gee. Is anybody surprised? We have a do-little-but-argue-and-sling-mud Congress. Maybe Dr. Dolittle is in charge.

Remember the Dr. Dolittle story? In the charming Hugh Lofting series of children's stories he was a doctor who eschewed human patients for animals, and he spoke their language. He lived in a fantasy world. Sort of like our Congress. But that's not why I'm raising this metaphor.

I have two reasons, actually. The first is his name -- irresistible!

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