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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.

BBCA team of scientists from an American university say they have reinvented the bicycle wheel.

WheelThe Copenhagen Wheel is a hub containing motor and batteries which can be fitted to the rear wheel of almost any bike, providing a boost to the cyclist whenever needed, say developers.

It has been unveiled at the UN Climate Summit by the team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Commentary from the BBC's Martine Croxall.
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ForbesForbes editors and writers take a look ahead at Entrepreneurship & Leadership in 2010. Click on the authors to read what they think will be the big trend, hear their unconventional wisdom, be cautioned against misplaced assumptions, check the watch list and get a bold prediction.
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EuractivResearchers have sought to speed up the ongoing Copenhagen climate talks by gathering evidence of the catastrophic impacts of accelerating global warming. But climate science has been disputed by sceptics who say such claims are unfounded.

Recent research suggests that the scientific consensus within the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may have been too optimistic.

A group of researchers, most of whom are authors of previous IPPC reports, said last month that sea levels are set to rise much more quickly than expected.
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PluggedInThere are innumerable articles and templates for preparing a business plan for start-ups. But what I found is that most of them are too exhaustive and so a strong de-motivator for an enthusiastic individual who wants to pen down his ideas and present it to his potential investors/advisers.

Immaterial of the scale of the business viz., financial size or employee size, the below business plan is a good starting point. When one has got this right, a large part of planning has been accomplished. Depending on one’s purpose, additional information and more details can always be added.
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xconomyLeave it to the Greeks to provide an epic mythology for interpreting the essence of biotech innovation.

As John Maraganore of Cambridge, MA-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals puts it, drug development is a voyage of Odysseus that requires wily and ingenious problem-solving and extraordinary seamanship. Put another way by Kleanthis Xanthopoulos of Carlsbad, CA-based Regulus Therapeutics, the quest of biotech innovation boils down to a succinct question: “How do you build business in an environment that has been challenging and is likely to continue to be challenging in the future?”
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Small BusinessIf you’re a small business owner who also tweets, Google’s got a new service you may be interested in to help you simplify the process and to give you more data about its results. Who doesn’t love more data? And Twitter!

Let’s start from the beginning.

Google started this week off the same way it started last – by announcing a slew of new products and features. The big story this time around was a brand new Google URL shortener to help SMB owners to share content on the Web. Unlike popular shorteners like TinyURL and, isn’t a standalone service. It sits inside Google Toolbar and Feedburner so business owners can share content they find (via Google Toolbar) or share the content that they create (via Feedburner) directly. If you’re interested in sharing content using the latter approach, well then you’ll also want to meet Socialize.
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azcentralA lack of skilled labor, a meager pool of local investment capital and disjointed economic-development strategies are hindering growth in Arizona's technology sector, a study released Tuesday says.

But state leaders can build on strong resources already here, including universities, federal research funding and business startups, by fostering collaboration among stakeholders, according to the Milken Institute, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based research think tank.

Its report "Charting a Course for Arizona's Technology-Based Economic Development" compares Arizona's performance on tech indexes with peer states, including Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.
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WSJSome – but not too much – government involvement is good for venture capital.

That’s a conclusion of a Globalization of Alternative Investments report issued Tuesday sponsored by the World Economic Forum. The research project, led by Harvard Business School Professor Josh Lerner, examined more than 28,800 enterprises based in 126 countries that received venture capital from 2000 through 2008. They represented a wide range of industries, but many were high-technology companies. The researchers divided the enterprises into three groups: those with only private venture capital, those with less than 50% of their venture capital from government-supported venture groups and those with 50% or more of their venture money from government-supported groups.

The main finding is “the striking result that the strongest performance is associated with moderate levels” of government-supported venture capital. These enterprises generally did better than those with extensive government venture capital and those with none. Performance measures were based on whether the enterprise went public or was acquired and the value of the enterprise at that liquidity event. Researchers also scored enterprises with moderate levels of government support highest for innovation based on patents filed.
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You’ve got your business off the ground, you’ve secured some financing, you’re cash flow positive, and business is good. Great! But you need to expand into a new market and to do that you need cash.

Your 3f’s (friends family and fools) are all pretty much exhausted, and Angel Capital’s already been spent in your national expansion efforts. So now it’s either debt or venture capital…

And while we won’t go into the semantics of why we’re recommending an VC injection rather than debt acquisition (just yet), we’ll just say that this option is the better one for your business at its present juncture.
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BiofuelsRenewable oils developer Solazyme took the #1 spot in the 2009-10 “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” rankings.

The list recognizes innovation and achievement in bioenergy development.

The rankings were based 50 percent on votes from a 75-member panel of international selectors, and 50 percent on votes from subscribers of Biofuels Digest, the world’s most widely-read biofuels daily.

POET (#2), Amyris Biotechnologies (#3), BP Biofuels (#4), Sapphire Energy (#5) Coskata (#6), DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (#7), LS9 (#8), Verenium (#9) and Mascoma (#10) round out the top 10.
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Cloud AveWhat project management blogs do you read? I’ve assembled a list of blogs that give me substantial food for thought when I write on innovations in project management. The list also includes blogs that serve as great sources of information about Enterprise 2.0, new management methodologies, leadership, motivation, as well as useful project management tips you can use in your day-to-day job. I hope these resources will help you take a look at your management practices from another point of view or perhaps even push you to radical changes in the ways you manage your projects and teams. I wrote a short summary for every blog, so that it would be more convenient for you. Enjoy!
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CNN MoneyNEW YORK (Fortune) -- There doesn't seem to be a recession on at Fahrenheit 212. Stepping into the boho-chic downtown Manhattan office of this "innovation consultancy" is something like stepping into a time-warp. Cheeky foyer art? Check. (Fahrenheit's is a gorilla beauty queen done in oils.) So many glass walls they ought to be a workplace hazard? Double-check. Completely anachronistic mahogany library, complete with rolling ladder? Does one even have to ask? And everywhere you look, beautiful, bright-eyed people skipping around like it's 1999.

But it isn't, and with 2009 as abysmal a year as most of us can remember, just about the worst thing to be is a consultant, let alone an innovation consultant.
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WASHINGTON, DC, December 16, 2009 (ENS) - At a Middle Class Task Force meeting today which focused on manufacturing, Vice President Joe Biden announced the administration's support for up to $5 billion in additional funding for a successful Recovery Act program that will accelerate job growth in Clean Energy Manufacturing.

This increase would more than triple the funding of the Recovery Act's Section 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.

The program covers a number of clean energy technologies, providing a 30 percent tax credit for investments in factories that manufacture products used in clean energy technology.
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Business WeekThe innovation industry took a hit this year, as executives dialed back on initiatives—and paid the price. But some encouraging trends also emerged

In 2009 the world was no longer flat; much of it was flat broke. Deflated by slumping sales and income, companies roundly did what innovation consultants say they never should—they cut spending on research and development. The U.S. drug industry, historically one of the most lavish spenders on research and development, announced the elimination of a record 69,000 jobs this year, up 60% from 2008. At many companies, quick hits and line extensions replaced more costly, though potentially more rewarding, investments in game-changing inventions.

Still, creativity lives on. Among fresh or fringe approaches that became mainstream tools in 2009: trickle-up innovation, design thinking, and open innovation. And while innovation may no longer be the golden goose it was in flusher times, the penny-pinching has forced companies to break some bad habits—such as wantonly pursuing every new idea—which could help them roll out new money-making products and services as the recession eases and an economic recovery takes hold.
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Buffalo News OpinionThe calls for reform continue to resonate in the body politic. This year’s state budget embodied significant reform and change in the state’s Empire Zones program. New, more stringent tests for existing participants were enacted and are being applied retroactively. Future participants must meet even higher standards. The sunset of the zones program was accelerated to June 30, 2010. The governor himself heralded the “end of the program.”

Businesses considering expansions and site selectors are unsure of the nature of state assistance going forward. Even surviving participants in the zones program are unsettled by the prospect of the state changing the rules in midstream again. There is little but uncertainty on the horizon.
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ForbesSmall business will pave the road for recovery. What a lovely thought.

Brett NelsonThe Big Trend

More capital starvation. One of many haunting data points: Bank reserves now exceed the U.S. Federal Reserve's regulatory floor by $1 trillion; before the credit crisis, excess reserves (the inert stuff banks hate to hold) came to only $2 billion. It may take another year for things to loosen up. Result: Companies that have neither the huge growth prospects to attract venture capital, nor a river of steady cash to entice skittish banks, will go wanting.
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The Unconventional Wisdom

Spur job growth by nurturing mid-sized businesses. Only 5.8 million of the 25 million businesses in the U.S. have employees, and just 650,000 of those have at least 20 employees. Most small businesses (which politicians and pundits love to laud as the primary engine of job growth) serve local consumers, businesses and governments--many of whom are tapped out at the moment. Midsize businesses can take advantage of national and global markets, and in turn put people back to work. Now.
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Tidal WaveThis is part of my [David B. Lerner] ongoing series on University Entrepreneurship.

As I sometimes like to say- if the licensing side of the university tech transfer business is 29 years old by now, the practice of spinning-out companies based on university intellectual property is still really a teenager. The field is still young enough such that no one has written the definitive book on its application and in the meantime the field simply continues to evolve and grow at a stunning pace. And, like any teenager worth his or her salt, this form of university entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly boisterous, ambitious, somewhat unruly at times and yet is displaying enormous creativity, energy and imagination. As I approach the beginning of my fifth year in this field and with the benefit of having spun-out almost 50 university startups during this period, I have taken a moment to reflect on what I have seen and am seeing occur.

According to AUTM statistics, American universities are now spinning-off companies based on university intellectual property at a clip approaching 600 per year. In addition, as demonstrated in a recent white-paper authored by a team led by MIT's legendary Ed Roberts, this number of 600 per year is actually dwarfed by the thousands of other companies being launched each year by university entrepreneurs forming companies of their own that are not based on their university's intellectual property. Another important development is the well-known fact that as the costs of launching a company continue to decrease due to the advent of cloud computing and the like- so has it steadily become much easier for university-age students to try their hand at entrepreneurship.
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ChangeLooking back on 2009, it seems clear that the uncertainty of the global economy combined with the general maturation of the social entrepreneurship space made it something of a building year. I [Nathaniel Whittemore] believe that 2010 will begin to materialize some of the innovations that people spent 2009 clearing the way for, with significant long-term consequences. All in all, I'm far more excited about the coming year than I was about the last.

The most common critique I have of myself looking back at my predictions from last year is that I failed to recognize how many of them were in line for a gestation period before the really significant changes. I think that my Trend #5: Mobile Platforms and Trend #3: Blended Value Investing definitely ended up having a building period last year. White House partnership on social entrepreneurship was even more behind the scenes, and it's still unclear exactly who is going to benefit from the Social Innovation Fund.
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Small Business TrendsPersonal branding is not a new concept, but it’s something small business owners and marketers have to pay attention to now and certainly through 2010. Your brand is your clear differentiator and your competitive advantage. It’s also the first impression you have with potential customers and the source of attachment you create with your current customers.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen personal branding become more and more important because of the pressure of the economy and through the rise and acceptance of social media technologies for both business and personal use.
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