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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.

Nurturing high-tech business

FAIRMONT — At an upcoming conference, people from the state and beyond can learn how to grow their capacity through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

The 2009 Mid-Atlantic SBIR/STTR Conference is scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown. The West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation’s INNOVA Commercialization Group and the West Virginia Development Office are hosting the event. Judy McCauley, district director of the SBA’s West Virginia District Office, is serving as an adviser during the planning.

WSJ: The Daily Start-Up: VCs Watch Their College Funds Wither

Less Endowed - University endowments are significant contributors to venture capital funds, but the financial crisis has exposed weaknesses in these schools’ investments and shrunk their coffers. This is illustrated by reports yesterday from two of the wealthiest, Harvard University and Yale University, which each stated that their endowments tumbled 30%, school records, in the year ended June 30. That’s due in part to their investments in private equity (which includes venture capital) - Harvard, for instance, reported (opens PDF document) that its investments in private equity funds, which generally represent about 13% of its now $26 billion endowment, fell almost 32%. Yale’s commitment to PE is much larger at 20%. Harvard has already said it would reduce its allocation to private equity overall, though it’s not clear how much these schools will adjust their commitments specifically to venture capital. Other wealthy schools, including Stanford, have recorded similar losses, illustrating how the VC industry will have less money to play with.

Belgium: Will its enviable geographic position continue to ensure success in pharma?

Occupying an enviable position both physically and politically in the heart of Europe, Belgium has benefitted extensively from its location in recent years, and the development of the EU has also provided considerable impetus for growth. The headquarters of the EC and home of the European Parliament and NATO, Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is the centre of European politics. With the recent enlargement of the EU, the country is also at the centre of a market of 0.5 billion consumers. A well-developed infrastructure combined with world-class education and technical expertise, as well as a physical proximity to the markets and capitals of Western Europe, lends local firms many advantages and has made the country a highly attractive base for international companies to conduct business in Europe.

Interview: Vinod Khosla Is On The Hunt For Great Technologies

In venture capital, Vinod Khosla likes to go his own way, which is why he’s been so successful. He was the founding CEO of Sun Microsystems, and then moved to venture capital and became a star partner at Kleiner Perkins, where he backed Juniper Networks, Cerent (sold to Cisco for $7 billion) and NexGen (sold to AMD and formed the basis for its challenge to Intel). About five years ago, after becoming a billionaire, he left Kleiner and started Khosla Ventures to invest his own money. He was mostly drawn to clean tech at a time before it was popular, but still kept his hand in Web and other tech startups (Aliph|Jawbone, iSkoot, RingCentral, Tapulous, iLike, Slide, Xobni). Khosla Ventures already has more than 50 companies in its portfolio (see slides below).

WSJ: The Wall Street Journal 2009 Technical Innovation Awards

Just how difficult it is gets highlighted every time an infectious disease sweeps the globe, as the new strain of swine flu did earlier this year. Current methods of testing for disease-causing microbes are pretty effective at discovering whether an infected fluid or tissue sample contains a known virus or bacteria. But trying to detect previously unknown organisms is a whole different story.

US Falls in Global Competitiveness Rankings

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, an assessment of the productive potential of nations worldwide, is now available. Switzerland tops the overall competitiveness rankings, followed by the United States. The U.S. fell to second position after several years at the top of the rankings. Singapore, Sweden and Denmark complete the list of the top five countries.

SBIR Reauthorization Redux? No Such Luck.

Here we are -- just a few days from expiration of the third SBIR Reauthorization Continuing Resolution. Is there any hope for resolution by the end of the month? Nope.

Word from behind the scenes is that discussions are pretty much at a standstill. Staffers on the various Committees are standing firm on their bosses' positions. Provisions to significantly open up eligibility, provide special preferences having nothing to do with technology, eliminate the Phase I vetting process, have multiple Phase II awards possible, and increase funding caps without increasing the funding base just aren't going away. There's as much spirit of compromise here as there is on the health care debate. Nada. Zilch.

Brenner Discusses USDA Research, Technology

Few people know that the Department of Agriculture is one of the leading governmental research organizations with a long history of commercializing what is developed in its labs and jointly. Dr. Rick Brenner, who was named the Assistant Administrator in ARS for Technology Transfer in October 2004 and represents the Secretary of Agriculture on issues pertaining to management of intellectual property arising from USDA research, and has the delegated authority for licensing inventions developed through intramural research in any of the USDA agencies, provides insights into the enormous impact his agency has on the economy of the country.

HBS: Financing Constraints and Entrepreneurship

Financing constraints are one of the biggest concerns impacting potential entrepreneurs around the world. Given the important role that entrepreneurship is believed to play in the process of economic growth, alleviating financing constraints for would-be entrepreneurs is also an important goal for policymakers worldwide. In this paper HBS professors William R. Kerr and Ramana Nanda review two major streams of research examining the relevance of financing constraints for entrepreneurship. They then introduce a framework that provides a unified perspective on these research streams, thereby highlighting some important areas for future research and policy analysis in entrepreneurial finance. Key concepts include:

Venture Capital: Is it on a Diet Pill?

Venture capital outlook for the upcoming years is as obscure as ever due to many external factors such as the government intervention in the private sector to the state of the economy which is very fragile across various industries and sectors. Capitalism is no longer being conceived in a positive manner and no longer are those values being embraced. It is simple, the working model is broke. We need fresh ideas and blood to re-invent the New American Standards across all different platforms.

Do You Speak Global Innovation?

We at ReadWriteWeb believe that innovation is a global business (as we noted in an earlier post on the Global Innovation Graph). The "death of distance" - the notion that the Internet makes location irrelevant - may be an exaggeration. Face to face always matters, and that will happen where hubs of expertise and capital emerge. Silicon Valley will likely remain the uber-hub for a long time. But the Internet does dramatically make it possible for an entrepreneur to start from anywhere and assemble a dream team of experts, partners, and customers from anywhere else. Innovation is not just a Valley story or a US story: it is a global story. And we want to write more about this exciting story. In this post, we'll tell you a bit about how we are starting to do that.

Innovation should not be the race for the new-new thing

We’re all searching for the new-new thing. Be it a product or a method, we’re looking for that innovation that will let us stand out from the pack, because in a world where we are all good, we need to be original. If an idea becomes a trend before we’re involved, we are not a leader. When we’re first to market, if we capture first mover advantage, then we can define the rules of the game. But how can we tap into valuable ideas for products, services or method before they are seen as trends, when they are just … random?