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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.

In the go-go days of the mid-2000’s, Richard Florida was king, and the creative economy was going to lead us to cafe-cultured prosperity. Here in the central Puget Sound, not only did we take credit for all our smart people, we actually hired Richard Florida to come and help us develop strategies to capitalize on these resources. But you don’t really hear too much about that these days. What happened to the creative economy?

Obviously, the “Great Recession” has taken the wind out of the sails of a lot of investment in the amenities that help cities attract and retain high demand workers. Cultural institutions are struggling, bookstores are closing, and paying too much for a latte is gauche. Not to mention the huge cuts going on locally and nationally in education that keep us from producing the STEM field degrees that power a lot of that high tech innovation.
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The next time someone throws the "does it scale?" line at you, show them this diagram and ask them to be more specific - what sort of scaling was it they were worried about, exactly? Another tidbit, "The Microsoft UK Education team has a dozen people in it (surprised?) who are focused full-time on education..." - and with even more in North America, I would expect to see a lot more of blogging and writing out of them. Where are they? Ray Fleming, Microsoft UK Schools News Blog, November 20, 2009.
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Mecury NewsWhen Dave Kellogg arrived at Sequoia Capital on that day in early October 2008, "the last chair in the room was in the front row," he recalled. "My penance for being a little bit late."

Kellogg is the CEO of Mark Logic, a startup that helps business clients make sense of the chaos of unstructured data. He wound up with an excellent seat for an auspicious moment in Silicon Valley lore — the "R.I.P. Good Times" briefing that drove home the severity of the financial industry crisis for the startup economy. Initially intended exclusively for leaders of companies backed by Sequoia's investments, it would be inadvertently leaked by one CEO and sail around the Web like an early Halloween ghoul.
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In the late sixties it had become clear that most of the world’s seas and oceans were being exploited by over-fishing. Soil was being degraded and eroded throughout the planet. National habitats were being destroyed and the area of tropical rain forests, which have a direct effect on climatic conditions, had been reduced by half since the middle of the century. As a consequence, several species of plant life and animals were in the process of becoming extinct. Pollution had also started raising its ugly head and dumping of waste into the sea, and on land greatly contributed to the poisoning of the environment. Hazardous chemicals and radio active materials were being dumped into rivers all over the world and, together with sewage and oil spills, rendered lakes and semi-enclosed seas more vulnerable, therefore having a more direct effect on people’s health. As a result, billions of people are suffering daily from air pollution caused by acid rain and ozone depletion, both of which have become major contributors to global and regional problems.
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Venture BeatHere’s the latest from VentureBeat’s Entrepreneur Corner:

5 ways VC firms can stop shooting themselves in the foot – Venture Capital firms drill the need to create basic credibility into the companies they invest in – but often fail to take their own advice. Laura Grimmer, CEO of Articulate Communications (which works with VC firms), lists five things they could do to build a better pipeline of prospective portfolio companies.

After VC cash? Show ‘em what you’ve learned – When the time came for Cafepress to seek its second round of funding, the company went about it in a slightly different way. Serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, a longtime board member of the company, offers a look at how they did it – and what the reaction was from investors.
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EntrepreneurshipAs Global Entrepreneurship Week comes to a close in the US and 88 countries around the world, U.S. President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation supporting those efforts, proclaiming November 16 - 22 to be a national Entrepreneurship Week. In doing so, Obama called "upon all Americans to recognize the important contributions of entrepreneurs to our economy."

The statement comes as thousands of organizations are in the midst of hosting events designed to inspire young people to unleash their creative ideas and turn them into job-producing, sustainable businesses.
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A program that would make Iowa a center of medical innovation was kicked off Friday by state leaders and Richard Gephardt, the former congressman from Missouri.

"This is the most exciting thing I've ever done. I've come out of every one of these meetings just uplifted with what can happen here. It's really optimistic, it's possible, doable and feasible," said Gephardt, chairman of the Council for American Medical Innovation.
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NASVFWASHINGTON, DC - The seed capital industry has revaluated return expectations and fund-raising outlooks, according to a new national survey conducted by the Fox School of Business and the National Association of Seed Venture Funds(NASVF).

Survey respondents indicated that most are planning to make an exit within the next six months, and that they expect four times the return on capital from that exit. In addition, more than half indicate they are in the process of securing follow-on funding over the next six months.


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WSJAccording to the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rule. In the land of venture capital, however, the question is: Who actually has the gold?

Advertised as a celebration of entrepreneurs, last week’s Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum mostly served as a networking junket for venture capital managers to meet the small businesses of their investing future. Between the glad-handing there were business proposal swaps and face-to-face meetings that could serve as the first step in a multi-year process.
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CNBCIn the early 1980s, buffeted by a severe recession and nearly 11 percent unemployment, the economic future of the United States appeared gloomy. Yet America did not collapse; instead, the economy surged. The late 1970s and early 1980s turned out to mark an inflection point as technological advances building for two decades were catalyzed by new entrepreneurial firms in the seventies, eighties, and nineties.

This pattern of innovation and job creation in new firms has characterized the last 30 years, with firms less than five years old accounting for nearly all net job creation since 1980. Yet the recession of 2007-09—as severe if not worse than the 1981-82 recession—has once again called into question U.S. economic prospects and, in particular, the fate of entrepreneurs. As the world celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week this week, what is the state of entrepreneurship?
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SBIR CoachThe headline and subtitle of the Newsweek story got my attention: "The Decline of Western Innovation -- Why America is falling behind and how to fix it."

Innovation. What is that anyhow? Webster says it's "(1) the introduction of something new. (2) a new idea, method, or device."

OK. That's simple enough. SBIR is supposed to provide funding for small businesses to develop new ideas, methods or devices for solving Federal agency defined problems. That's why the "I" is in SBIR, isn't it?

Has SBIR been effective in producing innovation? YES! The evidence is overwhelming.

A 2008 study done by two University of California at Davis professors, Fred Block and Matt Keller, addressed the subject of "Where Do Innovations Come From?"
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Even non-football fans probably heard about Bill Belichick's "blunder" of a call on Sunday night. Believe it or not, the call — and the firestorm that followed — has important lessons for innovation managers.

A quick recap. The New England Patriots led the Indianapolis Colts by six points with two minutes to go. It was fourth down, the ball was on the New England 28 yard line, and the Patriots needed just two yards for a first down that would almost certainly have sealed a victory. Conventional wisdom called for a punt, but Coach Belichick decided to go for it. After the Patriots fell just short of the first down, the Colts marched into the end zone and won the game.
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Newswise - Entrepreneurial activity shows positive signs during these hard times, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2008 National Entrepreneurial Assessment for the United States of America, produced by Babson College and Baruch College. To view the report, visit

* Entrepreneurship Increases: Total entrepreneurial activity (TEA) increased to 10.8% in 2008 from 9.6% in 2007.

* Opportunity Obsessed: Opportunity continues to be the main driver for entrepreneurs in the United States - 87% started their businesses because of a business opportunity while only 13% started their businesses out of necessity.
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BWWhen people around the world try to explain the American system of entrepreneurship, they often point to venture capital. True enough, the venture capital ecosystem has nurtured startups that became household names—among them Apple (AAPL), Cisco (CSCO), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and Starbucks (SBUX). For much of the 1990s and thereafter, venture capital was seen as the "secret sauce" of American entrepreneurship and an engine of job growth. In its heyday in 2000, VC investing reached an astonishing 1.1% of U.S. GDP.

But what if the prominence of venture capital—its branding as the essence of American innovation—turns out to be a phenomenon of the past?
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Isaac Asimov once said "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, "hmm.... that's funny….". Based on a 30 year study across 300 product categories and 225 countries, the phrase might actually be "Hmmm…. that's what I thought."

A new whitepaper from Phillip Roos from GFK sums up 30 years of findings started by product guru Robert McMath. The paper deserves a deeper dive - (which will be coming in some form or another) but I'll try to share the highlights with you at least:

The Chord of Familiarity - Great innovation builds on what comes before it. This lines up with something I have long believed – there is no such thing as revolutionary innovation, just a series of incremental evolutionary innovations that at some point reaches a tipping point and appears to be revolutionary. I've used the iPhone as an example before.
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Red HerringElectric-auto maker Tesla is quietly revving up plans to file its widely expected initial public offering, according to reports.

San Carlos, California, Tesla is known for its Roadster electric two-seater sports car built on a Lotus platform that costs $109,000. Company founder Elon Musk indicated last year that an IPO was in the offing by 2008 or 2009, but economic conditions have likely delayed the company's S-1 filing.
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I [Mark Suster] had a picture in the office of my first company with the logo above and the capital letters JFDI. (In case it’s not obvious it’s a play on the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.”) I believe that being successful as an entrepreneur requires you to get lots of things done. You are constantly faced with decisions and there is always incomplete information. This paralyzes most people. Not you.

Entrepreneurs make fast decisions and move forward knowing that at best 70% of their decisions are going to be right. They move the ball forward every day. They are quick to spot their mistakes and correct. Good entrepreneurs can admit when their course of action was wrong and learn from it. Good entrepreneurs are wrong often. If you’re not then you’re not trying hard enough. Good entrepreneurs have a penchant for doing vs. over-analyzing. (obviously don’t read this as zero analysis)
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Bangkok PostThese days, it's impossible to read the business news without finding articles referring to the world of innovation. Companies proclaim they will grow faster than their competitors because they are going to innovate better products.

Self-proclaimed "innovation experts", who in the past sold marketing, benchmarking and Six Sigma as the "one and only way to heaven", have recently jumped on the innovation train. They are now bombarding audiences with shallow articles and low-value talks full of innovation buzzwords, from "out-of-the-box" and "disruptive" to "cutting-edge" and "breakthrough".
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It is a seeming paradox that in today's world economy, despite an overwhelming trend toward globalization, the "power of place" matters more than ever. In fact, studies show that regional and local policies matter more than national policies in fostering economic growth.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently published two reports on this phenomenon, with direct consequences for regions such as Paso del Norte.
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NYTIt’s amazing to go back and read what people were saying about Timothy Geithner in the spring. Many people said he looked terrified as the Treasury secretary, like Bambi in the headlights. The New Republic ran an essay called “The Geithner Disaster.” Portfolio magazine ran a brutal, zeitgeist-capturing profile that concluded by comparing Geithner to Robert Redford’s hollow man character in “The Candidate.”

The criticism of his plan to stabilize the financial system came from all directions. House Republicans called it radical. Many liberal economists thought the plan was the product of hapless, zombie thinking and argued that only full bank nationalization would end the crisis. The Wall Street Journal asked 49 economists to grade Geithner. They gave him an F
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