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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.

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) -- New York is the most attractive city for business and innovation, outranking London, Paris and Tokyo, according to Japan’s Mori Memorial Foundation’s second Global Power City Index.

The survey covers 35 of the world’s major cities and provides a “comprehensive power” ranking, according to the foundation, which was started by Taikichiro Mori, the founder of Mori Building Co., Japan’s largest privately held developer.

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I have always known this, but it has become 100% apparent that so much of success is dependent on the quality of talent that you have leading the ship. Talent is an interesting thing to define: talent isn’t experience, talent isn’t age, talent isn’t about the same skill set (all CEOs, etc.). To me, the best team consists of a strong combination of the following characteristics:

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The federal government remains the largest source of academic R&D funding, but its share has dropped from 64 % in FY 2005 to 60 % in FY 2008, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation. The top five universities in federal R&D funding for FY 2008: Johns Hopkins University ($1.68 billion including JHU's Applied Physics Laboratory); University of California, San Francisco ($885 million); University of Wisconsin, Madison ($882 million); University of Michigan, all campuses ($876 million); University of California, Los Angeles ($871 million). The institutions constituting the top five have remained the same since FY 2004.

The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology is in the process of preparing a Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Document. A draft copy of the document has been submitted by Consultants and the first review meeting was held recently.

It is the Ministry’s desire to share the document with the general public with the view of eliciting comments and other inputs. We would, therefore, be most delighted if you could spend some time to read this draft and provide your input by November 15, 2009.

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Saying New York is poised to lead the way in the high-tech economy of the future, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Tuesday launched Innovation Agenda, a five-part economic plan she says will help generate future jobs for a highly skilled workforce.

Innovation Agenda -- which includes an investment in science, technology, engineering and math education and legislation to promote the growth of business incubators and research institutions -- is designed to prepare teachers and students toward developing into "the innovative leaders that New York needs to compete and win the global economy," Gillibrand said from her Washington, D.C., office.

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CANBERRA -(Dow Jones)- The Australian Government on Wednesday unveiled details of a A$196 million fund to commercialize ideas and create jobs.

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr described the fund as a "radical new program" that will tailor assistance to applicants' needs rather than fitting an applicant into a program.

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Marc Gunther: This is Marc Gunther. I'm at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York -- that's near Albany -- and I'm joined by Kevin Skillern. Kevin is Managing Director of Venture Capital for GE Energy Financial Services -- that's a unit of GE Capital. He overseas GE's Venture Capital Portfolio in Cleantech companies.

Kevin, tell me just as we get started, why is GE in the Venture Capital business and talk a little bit about your portfolio in general terms before we talk about a couple of the specific companies.

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Apps for InnovationOver the past few years, it’s become pretty clear that the United States has been slipping from a global innovation leader to a follower, behind innovation super powers like China, India, Singapore, Finland and now, according to the latest World Economic Forum report, Switzerland.

Innovation, technology and business experts are all calling for a more valuable education system, better intellectual property laws and tax credits for companies that invest in innovation.

In June, I wrote about “The Innovation Movement,” a campaign launched that month by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to ensure that the U.S. Congress passes innovation-friendly legislation.

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When it comes to talking with their kids, parents say the topics of math and science are harder to discuss than drug abuse, according to a survey of 561 adults who have children ages 5 to 18. The survey was conducted online between Sept. 23 and 28, 2009 by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates on behalf of Intel Corporation, and is reported to have a margin of error of +/- 4.14 percent. The survey found that although more than 50 percent of parents rank math or science as the subjects most critical to their children’s future success, they report discomfort talking to their children about these subjects. In fact, nearly a quarter of parents who admit to being less involved in their child’s math and science education than they would like say that a key barrier is their own lack of understanding of these subjects. On top of this, last week, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed that fewer than 40% of fourth-graders and eighth-graders in the United States are proficient in math.

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Sovereign wealth funds will be invited to invest alongside the government in a £1bn vehicle to finance venture capital funds as part of broader "strategic partnerships" with the UK technology industry, according to Lord Drayson, science minister.

Fresh from visiting investors in the US and Europe, Lord Drayson has found "encouraging" feedback on the new fund of funds, announced by the government in June to aid the ailing venture capital industry. He is confident of turning the UK's initial £150m contribution into a £1bn fund - the biggest of its kind in Europe.

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Wonderful World Of Web 2.0 - The Web 2.0 Summit is in full swing and already generated a bit of news in its first day - if you consider anything a Twitter executive says as news. While CEO Evan Williams disappointed bloggers once again by stopping short of disclosing any revenue models, he did say he “deperately” wants to rid of Twitter’s “suggested user” list, which offers suggestions on which users to follow. The list was launched last year and includes a wealth of celebrities, social media stars and brand-name companies who have benefited greatly by attracting thousands of users. Instead, Williams said, he’s looking to replace that list with a feature that will let people build their own lists of users to follow. Also at Web 2.0, Morgan Stanley’s Mary Meeker claimed the economy is improving and projected a coming mobile boom (see her presentation here), General Electric chief Jeff Immelt unveiled a handheld ultrasound machine, PayPal revealed it’s embracing outside developers, and Mark Pincus of social-gaming company Zynga predicted we’ll see an economy built around social-media apps.

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Since 1976, AAAS has published a comprehensive annual analysis of R&D in the president's proposed federal budget, making timely and objective information available to the science and engineering communities and to policy makers. AAAS Report XXXIV: Research & Development FY 2010 includes the political context of budget proposals; analysis of major funding trends; analysis of funding for research by theme, major agency, and discipline; and nearly 40 tables. The full text of the 273-page report from the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program is available online in PDF format and hard copies may be ordered.

AAAS Releases Report on US R&D Budget for FY 2010

I've read several books about innovation, and am reading another which I'll review shortly here on the blog, which talk about the importance of combining disparate skills or capabilities when innovating, or holding two diametrically opposing ideas and finding the happy medium. What should be obvious is that one of the most important skills from an innovation perspective is the act and insight of synthesis.

This is a real challenge, because most people are taught to break down problems into smaller, finite pieces and solve the smaller problems. We also work as specialists, with deep understanding of our core capabilities and knowledge, but often with little insights or knowledge beyond our education or jobs. So most people don't use synthesis skills on a regular basis, and are probably prone to avoiding synthesis since synthesis requires introducing a number of new and possibly unknown factors which may simply make the problem larger and more difficult.

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The Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Imperial College London, has been honoured with a top prize for innovation at the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2009. The Institute was named overall winner in the category of "Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology". The awards were announced at a gala ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Thursday 15th October.

Now in their fifth year, the Times Higher Education Awards are the leading awards for the higher education sector, created to recognise, celebrate and reward the highest standards of excellence and talent in UK academia. This year the awards attracted over 600 entries from more than 130 higher education institutions.

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The unemployment rate is climbing, the recession is dragging on and credit markets are tight. That means now is the ideal time to start a new business.

“We are seeing a strong spike in the number of people who are exploring entrepreneurship,” said Maria Meyers, network builder for KCSourceLink in Kansas City.

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CitySquares Online Inc. saw sales start to decline dramatically in late 2008 as some of the local-search-engine provider's customers could no longer afford its advertising services.

So the small business turned to its board of six volunteer advisers—experts in areas such as sales, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and venture capital—who suggested expanding the Web site beyond its northeast footprint.

 

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One of the most misunderstood topics about entrepreneurship is job creation. The prevailing wisdom is that new businesses create jobs primarily because newly formed companies tend to grow over time.

This misperception comes from how people typically look at the data on new businesses. In general, observers look at the number of people employed at the average new firm and compare that to the number of people employed at the average firm that is, say, six years old.

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Entrepreneurs frequently ask us about angel investor activity and availability of funding. Many questioners are frustrated by the difficulty of finding available funding for their early stage ventures. We have already posted several tips for entrepreneurs on funding early stage ventures and will continue to address this matter, as there appears to be considerable interest in the topic.

In order to put the subject of angel investment funding in perspective, we felt it was important to first present information about the scope and extent of recent angel investor activity.

The Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire is considered a premier source of information and research on the topic of angel investor activity. Their report on 2008 angel investor activity[1] presents the most recent picture for a full years activity.

 

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Venture capital funding fell 42% through the third quarter compared with last year, as investors remained cautious of making new deals and limited partners scaled back commitments to the asset class.

But some established venture firms still have plenty of firepower to make investments, as evidenced by the following list from Dow Jones VentureSource of this year’s most active investors.

 

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