Innovation America Innovation America Accelerating the growth of the GLOBAL entrepreneurial innovation economy
Founded by Rich Bendis

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.

Innovators will strike out time and again. But baseball—and the World Series—remind us of the value of resilience

As World Series 2009 closes out this week, we will have seen more strikeouts than home runs. But despite all the swings and misses, baseball's popularity shouldn't be surprising. Baseball embodies the idea of resilience. And resilience is exactly what the global economy needs.

Given the recession and jobless recovery, baseball reminds us to take heart. "You just can't beat the person who never gives up," Babe Ruth once said. He would know. The Babe struck out 30 times in World Series games.

Read more ...

An recent article from the Economist made me think about how companies could learn from the distributed innovation of open source to find the great ideas within. The article is about InnoCentive, which helps connect problems with solutions:
[Innocentive] is based on a simple idea: if a firm cannot solve a problem on its own, why not use the reach of the internet to see if someone else can come up with the answer? Companies, which InnoCentive calls “seekers”, post their challenges on the firm’s website. “Solvers”, who number almost 180,000, compete to win cash “prizes” offered by the seekers. Around 900 challenges have been posted so far by some 150 firms including big multinationals such as Procter & Gamble and Dow Chemicals. More than 400 have been solved. InnoCentive reckons the approach can work for innovations in all sorts of fields, from chemistry to business processes and even economic development. It has formed a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, a charity, to help solve problems posted by non-profits working in poor countries, with some initial success.

Read more ...

BEIJING, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Piracy, long a problem for foreign media companies in China, also stands to stifle innovation by the country's own dynamic Internet industry, the chief executive of one of China's oldest Web companies said on Monday. "China needs to clean up piracy on the Internet or face a lag in innovation," Charles Zhang, chief executive of (SOHU.O), said at one of China's biggest Internet conferences taking place this week in Beijing.

"The Internet in China has reached an intense and more developed stage," he said. "Protecting intellectual property is becoming even more important ... Solving piracy on the Internet will help the piracy situation in China."

Zhang is one of a small but increasingly vocal group of figures in China's fragmented media community calling for officials to address a problem previously considered a major thorn for foreign players trying to crack the China market.


Read more ...

IN A RECENT article in The Chronicle Herald, Dalhousie University’s Jim McNiven discussed Nova Scotia’s need for more people to stay in the workplace in the coming years.

McNiven pointed out that as baby boomers retire, more jobs will go unfilled. The potential retirement of legions of boomers, combined with the lower birthrate across Canada, means the economy could be hobbled by a labour shortage.

McNiven is correct in his assessment. If baby boomers retire in droves, there will not be enough remaining workers to take up the slack. He expressed concern that many firms will lose business due to a lack of staff and will have to bypass good business opportunities because they will not be able to provide the goods or services needed.

Read more ...

SAN FRANCISCO — Even amid the contraction of the venture capital industry, which fertilizes the seeds of new technology start-ups, some firms are expanding.

On Monday, Greylock Partners, which has backed Facebook and LinkedIn, announced that it had put together a new $575 million fund, one of the biggest to be created in the last year. It has also hired a new partner, Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn and an active investor in early-stage start-ups.

The venture industry has been pummeled in the last year by dismal conditions that have made it difficult for start-ups to go public or be acquired by bigger companies. Many have predicted that the number of venture firms could shrink by as much as half.

Read more ...

DETROIT — While its crosstown rivals stumbled through bankruptcy this summer, the Ford Motor Company pressed its advantage, and delivered surprising news on Monday that its cost-cutting efforts and improving sales helped it earn nearly $1 billion in the third quarter.

But now it faces new challenges in maintaining that lead. Both General Motors and Chrysler, with the stigma of their bankruptcies receding, are moving ahead with their own comeback plans.

Read more ...

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Utah Fund of Funds (Utah FoF), an innovative program created by the Utah State Legislature to foster entrepreneurship by increasing the amount and diversity of capital available to Utah's established, growth and emerging companies, today announced that the program's economic development effectiveness is far greater than that of the federal stimulus money.

Thus far, Utah's stimulus aid of just under $520 million spent as of the end of September had resulted in retaining or creating 4,164 jobs--approximately eight jobs per million dollars spent. In contrast, the Utah Fund of Funds program has resulted in 2,047 jobs, based on the $60 million deployed as of September 30 by the Fund of Funds program of its $100 million first fund. The Fund of Funds investment has thus far resulted in more than 34 jobs per million dollars spent, approximately 4.26 times the level of job creation provided by the federal stimulus money.

Read more ...

Thinking of raising some angel capital for your new business? The New York Times has compiled a list of the new rule of angel investors that you should read. The most important rule is:
“Entrepreneurs should find ways to finance their own growth: working without salary, moonlighting, seeking grants, running lean operations and focusing on an aspect of the business that can generate revenue.”

Read more ...

In a speech last week to the City Club of San Diego, John Lechleiter, chairman and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly, offered very candid remarks about the state of innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, saying that the engine of biopharmaceutical innovation is “broken.” His comments may be a bitter pill to swallow in light of escalating investment in research and development (R&D), but his frankness may just be the remedy the industry needs to reinvent itself.

“At a time when world desperately needs more new medicines—for everything from H1N1 to Alzheimer’s disease—we are taking too long, spending too much, and producing far too little,” said Lechleiter. “Repowering pharmaceutical innovation is an urgent need not only for our company and our industry but for our nation—and for communities like San Diego and Indianapolis [the headquarters of Eli Lilly] that have a huge stake in the life sciences. We remain dependent on a society that welcomes and values new ideas, and public policy that enables innovation to be rewarded for the value it creates. But we also know that we need to change.”

Read more ...

Imagine if you will, somewhere in the distant recesses of our existence, a group of cavemen huddled around a fire. The wiseman of the group gathers the tribe around the fire and regales them with stories of their ancestors - how they fought the neighboring tribes, how they found the food necessary to survive. The shaman passes on the wisdom of the tribe, and teaches in the process.

Stories are the best way to learn, and the best way to communicate. For some reason, we've lost the sense of story in business. Rather than use stories we opt for hard and fast "facts" that often miss the root causes or issues. There's no story telling class in an MBA program, yet most of the best leaders understand the importance of storytelling, and they lead others by telling and retelling stories. Some of those stories are myths, meant to reinforce the culture. Some of those stories are true, meant to teach and instruct.

Read more ...

When I was a child the innovations of the day included black-and-white televisions, copy machines and the first satellite, Sputnik. Truly groundbreaking innovation came once a year or even less frequently. But more recently, technological innovation has moved at the speed of light. In recent years I have witnessed the birth of the Internet, DVR, HDTV, Blu-ray, satellite radio and MP3, to name just a few.

The slow pace of innovation of my childhood is particularly stark to me given that I get to enjoy amazing new technological advances through the eyes of my own one-year-old child. Advances that took years in my youth will take weeks in his. My son's childhood will be filled with e-books, 3-D, GPS and more. I can't even imagine what astonishing technologies will be part of his life. But my fear is that his future won't include the rapid pace of innovation that we have enjoyed in recent years. What if decades roll by and innovation stands still?

Read more ...

Federal Technology Watch

A study released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) last week offers data on the importance of university/industry r&d partnerships to the US economy.

The Economic Impact of Licensed Commercialized Inventions Originating in University Research, 1996-2007, finds a $187-billion positive impact on the US Gross National Product (GNP) and a $457-billion addition to gross industrial output, using very conservative models.


Read more ...

In pursuit of a prestigious prize, people often push the boundaries of what is possible.

The $10 million Ansari X Prize proved that to be true five years ago, when its winners launched a private manned vehicle into space. The prize spawned a resurgence of high-profile competitions, with private foundations and companies putting up hundreds of millions of dollars to solve technological challenges as urgent as building more efficient cars, and as trivial as predicting what movies people would like.

Recently, prize fever has also breached the thick walls of government bureaucracy, and more federal agencies are using competitions as a strategy to spur innovation. The competitions leverage modest amounts of taxpayer money to attract inventors and investors to certain scientific and technological problems.

Read more ...

The Great Recession has badly damaged the entrepreneurial sector of the U.S. economy.

Everyone knows that the United States is in the midst of the most severe recession since the Great Depression. But, while the media is full of reports about how the recession has affected large businesses and consumers, little has been said about its effect on new and small businesses. I’ve taken a look at the data, and, I’m sad to report, the Great Recession has damaged the entrepreneurial sector of the U.S. economy.

Business failure rates have jumped. According to the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), business bankruptcies increased 79 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2009, and employer firm terminations rose from 2007 to 2008.

Read more ...

SHANGHAI — The highly anticipated opening of China’s new Nasdaq-style stock exchange last Friday is already being seen as a watershed moment for the country’s capital markets, providing new opportunities for Chinese investors and an alternative source of financing for upstart companies.

Investors went on a wild buying spree during the first day of trading Friday on the Growth Enterprise Market, or GEM, sending the shares of some companies soaring as much as 210 percent.

“This is potentially a major game changer in China’s high-tech industry,” said Yu Zhou, a professor at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “For about 10 years, the biggest problem for China’s innovative companies was finance. You know it is very hard for them to get loans from state-owned banks.”

Read more ...

Federal Grants

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 - The U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative has announced that it expected to award a maximum of two discretionary cooperative agreements for projects that encourage youth entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa.

The award ceiling for this funding opportunity is $1,500,000.

This funding opportunity is open to institutions of higher education, non-profits, for-profits, and small businesses.


Read more ...

I guess I'll never fully understand the depth of concern that many management teams have around command and control, especially in an era of constant change. It seems that the more demands are placed on an organization to create new products and adapt to environmental change, the more resistance to that change is created and encouraged at mid and senior management levels. I understand that what's "known" is comfortable and what's unknown and new is uncomfortable, but at some point every firm has to create some new products or services or it will simply atrophy.

Recently I've witnessed what I'll call "innovation in a bottle". That is, a relatively successful innovation effort that the management team approved and blessed spawned interest in innovation across the organization. People in other business units and geographies wanted to know more, and learn more, about innovation and the successful work that was done. We on the project team viewed this as a good thing - a successful innovation effort being recognized as such. It was clear that many people wanted to understand the tools and process, and implement that kind of thinking in their lines of business.

Read more ...

Let others focus on election day tomorrow or dread the employment report coming up on Friday.

I’m looking forward to a week of events that celebrate entrepreneurship. Starting Tuesday, the two-day Mid-Atlantic Capital Conference at the Convention Center is expected to attract 1,000 people to learn about 40 area companies, including TerraCycle Inc., of Trenton, and iPipeline Inc., of Exton.

More intriguing is what’s happening on the University of Pennsylvania campus that celebrates ideas at a much earlier stage. It’s Innovation Week at the Weiss Tech House, a student-run organization that’s proof a little money, a little structure and a lot of teamwork can produce amazing things, including new companies.


Read more ...

Whoever said nonprofit news couldn't be exciting? Today I bring you a report of drugs, domestic violence and mental-health. What will happen to our heroine when she faces all of these ominous stumbling blocks in a month-long downward spiral?

Okay fine, there's no heroine. There's no downward spiral, unless you count this article. What this story does have, instead of the things I listed, are community courts, drug courts, re-entry courts, domestic violence courts and mental-health courts. Courts! See why I couldn't lead off with that? But now you're still here, so let me bring you the low-down.

Read more ...