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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.

Business InsiderThe last decade saw the obsolescence of several technologies that once seemed cutting edge or permanent.

Of course, the gales of creative destruction aren't slowing down. The next decade will see all kinds of upheaval and violent change.

Last week The Bureau of Labor Statistics published an interesting study about the way employment will change over the next several years.

It specifically identified 10 American industries that will see the biggest declines in employment between the years 2008-2018. Some are surprising, and others are industries that have long been due to die.
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Science ProgressA Carefully Targeted Tax Break to Boost Innovation Could Be Worthwhile

Clarence Odbody, the great-hearted but bumbling angel who saves George Bailey from himself in the post-war Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, counted on Jimmy Stewart’s character to earn Clarence his “wings.” Angel investors, those wealthy individuals who bankroll the innovative entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of company creation, don’t drop from heaven like Clarence, but they do save entrepreneurs struggling to turn their new ideas into successful companies and in turn count on the entrepreneurs they support financially to get past the nearly suicidal hours required to create explosive new companies—think Google or Genentech—which create the majority of new and well-paying jobs in the United States.

Angel investors aren’t in this game to earn their wings, of course. Wealth is the goal, but so too is job creation for these mostly local serial entrepreneurs who thrive on the thrill of building companies that help their communities grow and prosper. Problem is, these and other very early-stage investors in innovation companies—including the inventors and founders of these new companies and their friends and family who put up their first rounds of cash—often don’t reap the rewards of their early risk taking. The reason: Once a young company reaches a certain point of success it usually stumbles as it tries to bring its new product or service to market—at the very time it needs lots more money to grow.
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Business InsiderWhen Josh Kopelman and I first spoke about me joining First Round Capital, we talked a lot about alignment of interests—what First Round Capital was interested in with regards to investing in New York City, and also what my interests were with respect to my own career.

Given that our discussions had only started about a week and a half before my last fulltime day at my startup, I hadn’t really had a lot of time to think about what my next move was going to be. It didn’t really make sense for either of us to commit to a big four year engagement when I couldn’t say for sure what my goals were. Josh suggested that I help First Round firm up their footprint in NYC over the next year while I figure it out.
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Green LightA Survey of VC Attitudes Towards Investing in Nuclear Power

Is there a role for Venture Capital in the nuclear industry? Despite the term “Venture” in their asset class, VCs tend to want to minimize risk as much as possible. And nuclear is full of risk.

Market risk. Technical risk. Regulatory risk. Finance risk.

Most of the investors we spoke with were supporters of nuclear as citizens. But they had difficulty rationalizing the timeframes and scale inherent in nuclear with the goals of their limited partners and the dictates of their funds.
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Star TribuneMaybe Minnesota is doing better than we thought in attracting venture capital.

Minnesota has always lagged California and Massachusetts -- the nation's two venture capital powerhouses. But there was a nagging sense that Minnesota lagged some of its Midwestern neighbors, too.

Apparently not so. Now comes Jay Hare, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who focuses on early-stage venture investment deals, to say we may be better than we think.
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CNN OpinionWashington (CNN) -- It's the oldest trick in the political playbook: Call together a "summit" of fancy people so you'll appear to be focused on work that must get done.

Thursday, the White House convened CEOs from companies such as Boeing, AT&T, Comcast and Dow Corning, top leaders of the United Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial Workers, American Federation of Teachers unions, Ivy League academics and a few small-business representatives to brainstorm how the country might generate much-needed jobs.

A schmooze-fest is nice, but the hard work of putting America back to work will be done by entrepreneurs, not the leaders of the biggest companies in the nation and the heads of big unions.
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15/12/2009 - What impact has the crisis had on innovation and spending on research and development? How can innovation help to solve environmental and social threats? How are countries tackling these challenges?

The OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2009 provides the data and analysis to answer these questions and others to give policy makers an insight into the trends shaping science and innovation.

The Scoreboard includes more than 200 internationally comparable quality indicators to explore the progress of national innovation strategies and recent developments in science, technology and industry. In addition to data for OECD countries, it provides a broad range of statistics for other major economies such as China, India, Israel and the Russian Federation.

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baynetCommerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) on Sunday, Dec. 13, announced final Senate passage of $31 billion for agencies focused on science and competitiveness, including the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The funds are included in the CJS Appropriations bill, which was approved as part of Congress’ Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations bill. It now goes to the President to be signed into law.

This bill makes sure American manufacturers leverage new technology to create new jobs for our communities, while expanding U.S. markets overseas. Mikulski has been fighting for federal investments that strengthen America’s innovation economy, ensuring that our national research programs keep America competitive in the global arena.
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Open CourseWe continue to challenge the relevance of the college “degree” as being an insufficient measurement for what “educated” is, or is not, in an innovation economy. With the cost of a college degree spiraling upward and the value of the degree spiraling downward, the market will tip in favor of the alternative education measurements.

It is important to note that we do not challenge the existence of institutes of higher education, only the “degree” as a unit of measurement. The four year Bachelor degree and two year Masters degree are irrelevant as a title (there is no legal title since the age of the guilds) and arbitrary in duration to respond to the diversity, speed, and scope at which new technologies become available for deployment.
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xconomyA comprehensive snapshot of San Diego’s innovation economy shows a slowdown in new company formation, with 78 technology startups created during the three months that ended in September. But federal grants for basic research jumped to new highs, with funding awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) up 44 percent and funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) doubling over the previous quarter.

The total of 78 technology companies started during the third quarter is down about 24 percent from the 102 startups launched in the previous quarter, and is down about the same amount from the 103 companies created during the third quarter of 2008, according to the report released yesterday by Connect, a San Diego nonprofit group that promotes technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
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Athena AllianceThe UK's National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) has released its new pilot Innovation Index . As the press release states:
The aim is to make a significant improvement on existing metrics, both by making clear the contribution of innovation to productivity and growth, and by capturing 'hidden innovation'.
The index is now in its pilot form with launch of its final form due in the fall of next year. The Index is actually three reports.

The first report provides a growth accounting framework, built in part on the measurement of intangible assets as formulated by Corrado, Hulten and Sichel in the US and Marrano, Haskel and Wallis in the UK (see previous postings).

The second report is a follow on to their earlier report of "hidden innovation" - that is innovation in industries where levels of traditional R&D investment are low. These include: architectural services: accounting; business and management consultants; legal services; software and IT services; automotive industry; construction; energy; and design services. The report shows that low R&D intensive industries are not necessarily low in innovation. And even in areas were industry wide innovation may be low, successful companies are more innovative than their peers.
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Australian AnthillTo succeed, innovation needs to be more than a nebulous desire to foster creativity in an organisation. It needs to be a concrete business process driven from the top. Roger La Salle explains.

It’s probably only in the last forty years that creativity started to gain momentum as a formal business tool that could perhaps be used to enhance the flow of new business insights.

Creativity in itself is a generic term. Its use seems to be more in reference to the cerebral processes and many teachers in the craft refer to left brain, right brain, free-flowing thoughts and letting your mind drift to allow hitherto inhibited thoughts to escape to the conscious mind where they can be captured, explored and potentially exploited. Indeed, I recall one recent conference where a presenter gave everybody a balloon to inflate, then on command asked that they be released to “freely fly around the room”.
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BostonWHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA joins the Copenhagen climate summit Friday, he will very likely sidestep congressional inaction on new energy legislation, committing our nation to a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. On his return, Denmark’s vibrant economy and leadership in the battle against climate change should inspire him as he coaxes a recalcitrant Congress to adopt meaningful new measures to combat global warming.

Denmark awoke to the perils of foreign oil dependence when the 1973 Arab embargo delivered a body blow to its energy security. Oil - virtually all of it imported - met a staggering 90 percent of the country’s energy needs at the time. Denmark’s political leadership responded by setting the nation on a path toward energy independence, with dramatic and lasting results.
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NYTLike many businesses, university endowments and state pension funds are stretched thin, short on staff and more in need than ever of good research to guide their investing.

A venture capitalist has started a new fund of funds to help these institutional investors — known in the industry as limited partners — to outsource their investing in venture capital and other types of funds.

The formation of the new fund, called Cendana Capital, was announced Monday by Michael Kim, a founder of the venture capital firm Rustic Canyon Partners. For the past few years, he has also been chairman of the investment committee of a $13 billion San Francisco pension fund, so he knows first-hand the challenges of investing in this economy.
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WSJWhen tiny Fisker Automotive Inc. hit a financing glitch last year, threatening its plan to build a fancy gasoline-electric hybrid car in Finland, it turned to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The DOE had a bolder idea. Why not also step up the company's plans to develop a less-expensive model, and assemble it in a closed U.S. auto plant?

Within months, Vice President Joe Biden, the former senator from Delaware, was helping lure the embryonic car company to a shuttered General Motors Co. factory four miles from his house in Wilmington, right across the tracks from Biden Park. Soon, Fisker Automotive, a two-year-old business that has yet to sell a car, won loans from the federal government totaling $528 million.
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Digital InfluenceMindstorms Big Robot on Campus, the NetFlix Prize, The Electrolux Design Challenge - these are all classic high-profile examples of open innovation challenges or forums that invite "outsiders" in to innovate with companies. This is different than promoting an open-source marketplace like Linux or iPhone application development. These historic examples are not about tapping into a scalable marketplace of innovation (see Nesta's P&G Corporate Open Innovation Challenge as an example), they are about making their internal teams more creative, more productively innovative, and about investing in a culture of innovation (and, therefore, sustainable growth and defensible marketplace advantage). Hard to justify with quarterly earnings releases. But that is why purposeful business culture is hard and requires leadership.

I remember attending the MIT Media Lab on behalf of a funding company I worked for at that time (Discovery). Corporations would fund professors and teams at MIT to explore hugely interesting yet often esoteric-seeming topics. The reality of this program is that it always felt at arms length. I am not sure how many people at Discovery actually knew their company was involved with MIT. The best examples are when everyone knows. Here's what I think you get:
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Department of Commerce-backed Organization will Highlight Non-Profit Listings on the iBridge Network

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The iBridge(SM) Network, a program of the not-for-profit Kauffman Innovation Network, Inc., today announced that it will include innovations from the USA National Innovation Marketplace on its web site in order to provide researchers and businesses with access to even more of the latest scientific advancements. Supported by the US Department of Commerce's NIST/MEP Network and Eureka! Ranch International, the Marketplace accelerates innovation by facilitating communication between buyers and sellers of innovation, giving inventors access to investors, distributors, contract manufacturers and R&D experts. Marketplace listings from non-profit organizations will coexist on the iBridge Network, allowing for even more exposure and collaboration opportunities.

"There is a natural synergy between the USA National Innovation Marketplace and the iBridge Network," said Lesa Mitchell, director of the iBridge Network. "We both are working to drive research to the marketplace and we are thrilled to be able to achieve that goal together."

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WSJThis past summer, HubSpot Inc. received several offers from venture firms to invest in the marketing software start-up. The company wasn’t looking to raise funding yet - it still had about $5 million left from a $12 million Series B round in May 2008 - but rather than wait HubSpot decided in October to accept $16 million while it was still on the table.

That was the third round for HubSpot, which has raised more than $30 million from venture firms in just two years. And it’s done it all without a formal business plan.

“No venture capitalist actually asked us for a business plan,” HubSpot Chief Executive and founder Brian Halligan said last week at the Puerto Rico Venture Forum.
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OvumThe battle for continuing web search dominance continues, with Google now providing a range of new capabilities, including a first stab at realtime search and an image recognition function.

While Google's immediate target with its announcements is Microsoft's increasingly competent (and threatening) Bing, the target that the CIO should be aware of is the consumer user. As we have found with a range of technologies, from instant messaging to search engine user interfaces, the consumer is also an employee and judges the effectiveness of the corporate systems they have to use by what they see in the 'wild' of the Internet.

Being the canny organisation it is, when Google identifies widespread adoption of these functions in the consumer environment it will then build them into its enterprise offerings, notably its search appliance.
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WSJMost venture capital firms shy away from the Midwest manufacturing and automotive industries, instead favoring high-technology regions like Silicon Valley.

Not RPM Ventures. Located less than a mile from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the firm aims to bridge the divide between high-tech start-ups and major manufacturers in the Midwest.

Last week RPM, whose name comes from the unit of mechanical measurement, revolutions per minute, announced it raised $60 million for a second fund that it has already used to back 10 companies. “The biggest thing we have going for us is our strategy,” said co-founder and Managing Director Eric Weiser when asked how his firm raised a second fund in such lean times. “We have a unique strategy. We have to, we’re in the Midwest.”
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