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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.

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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For the San Diego Zoo, the long-standing model of funding conservation research and educational initiatives from entertainment revenues (tickets, food, and merchandise) and donations couldn't be maintained- -- attendance simply wouldn't rise as fast as the costs of maintaining a 2,000-person enterprise. The zoo had to innovate -- and it has.

Case Study: Using Innovation for Growth

Affordable public housing. Quality schools. Safe neighborhoods. Clean streets. Inexpensive mass transit. There’s no shortage of challenges facing American cities. But there is an innovative new way to go about solving them: open innovation. Last week we announced our “Empowering American Cities” initiative, in which we invite city governments to post a Challenge on our Innovation Marketplace, where it can be addressed by our global community of more than 180,000 scientists, inventors, engineers, researchers, and business people who thrive on solving the world’s toughest problems.

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Commercialization partners and investment are now needed for new technologies, which have been government supported by Enterprise Ireland.

An eternal lantern powered by the sun, an energy efficient radiator, and membrane technology that uses carbon nanotubes are a few cleantech innovations being spun out of the world’s 43rd top university.

Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin showcased 15 of its newest technologies last week, with a handful falling under the cleantech sector, that are now ready for commercialization, Graham McMullin told the Cleantech Group today. McMullin is a case manager for physical sciences within Trinity’s technology transfer office.

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The Economist looks forward to recognising Mark Zuckerberg as this year’s “No Boundaries” award winner, along with seven additional 2009 Innovation Award Winners, at The Economist’s Innovation Awards Ceremony and Innovation Summit, which take place in London on October 29th and 30th, respectively.

The Economist’s Eighth Annual Innovation Summit provides an opportunity for delegates to meet the greatest thinkers and doers of this world in an inspirational setting, take away content relevant to their business and hear from the 2009 Innovation Award winners. This year’s line-up of speakers includes: Bright Simons, Co-founder, MPedigree, developers of a system capable of detecting whether or not medicines are counterfeit, Lesa B. Roe, Director, NASA’s Langley Research Center and Ravi Kant, Vice Chairman, Tata Motors, creators of the world’s lowest-cost car.


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Before reaching their dangerous conclusionrecommending government supported journalism in a report called the Reconstruction of American Journalism – former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie and Columbia journalism prof Michael Schudson make some basic and, I believe, profoundly mistaken assumptions, namely: “That journalism is now at risk, along with the advertising-supported economic foundations of newspapers.”

Just because newspapers put themselves at risk, it does not follow that journalism is at risk. Newspapers no longer own journalism. As too often happens in this discussion, they focus only on the revenue side of the business ledger of news – advertising falling from monopolistic heights – and not on the cost side and the efficiency new technology – and thus collaboration – that technology allows.

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A NATIONAL network to identify, initiate and co-ordinate industry-focused forensic research and innovation will seek up to $80 million to ensure its existence beyond the next three years.

The Australian Future Forensics Innovation Network last week received $2m from the Queensland government's Smart Futures Fund's National and International Research Alliances Program.

The network, which was developed out of a need to have a co-ordinated national strategy for forensic science research and development, has also received $4.8m from its 19 partner organisations.

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Bangalore-based Eka Software Solutions, which makes software applications for the commodities trading industry, raised $10 million from Nexus Venture Partners (earlier known as Nexus India Capital). Eka was founded in 2001 by CEO Manav Garg and currently employs over 200 people. It aims to get to $100 million revenues by 2012 – read more at Outlook Business here. Current revenue numbers are not available.

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In April 2009, the Deshpande Center issued its annual Institute-wide call for proposals for two levels of grant awards - Ignition and Innovation. The grants target projects focusing on novel, enabling and potentially useful ideas and innovations in all areas of technology. Funding for Ignition awards - up to $50,000 per grant - might enable only exploratory experiments and limited proof of concept, and an Ignition Grant can position projects to receive further funding to continue to develop an innovation. Funding for Innovation awards - for as much as $250,000 per grant - is meant to benefit projects that have progressed beyond their earliest stages and are closer to commercialization.


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Long known as the financial capital of the country, if not the world, New York City is now aiming to be something else: a biotech start-up hub.

With real estate expensive and funding to bring companies out of universities wanting, Maria Gotsch, president and chief executive of the New York City Investment Fund, said her group has been working to create a more welcoming environment for start-ups in the city. “We’re looking to stack the deck in New York City’s favor,” she said.

The NYCIF, a privately funded evergreen fund founded by private equity giant Henry Kravis, has pledged $5 million for the Translational Research Fund as part of the larger New York City Bioscience Initiative, spearheaded by the city, to spur life science development in the city. A city-contracted nonprofit, the New York City Economic Development Corp., will manage marketing and organizational support for the fund.

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Federal Technology Week

NASA, as part of its efforts to develop a technology roadmap for the commercial reusable launch vehicle (RLV) industry, is to partner with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The study will focus on identifying technologies and assessing their potential use to accelerate development of commercial RLVs that have improved reliability, availability, launch turn-time, robustness and significantly lower costs than current launch systems. Results from the study will provide roadmaps with recommended federal technology tasks and milestones for different vehicle categories.

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Entrepreneurs Like You Share Their Stories


Entrepreneurs at the Inc. 500/5000 conference in DC in September 2009 shared their stories of jobs created and visions for the future of entrepreneurship. See the highlights. 
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Procter & Gamble's mantra, "The consumer is boss," has become a part of the fabric of marketing. But there's another related concept that is also critical to the company's successful record of innovation, according to P&G group president, North America Melanie L. Healey.

"You need to be purpose-driven. You need to know what it is that you really want to do for the consumer," she told attendees at last week's Magazine Innovation Summit in New York, the Magazine Publishers Association's new format for its annual conference.

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Last week president Barroso gave a remarkable, forward looking speech to Parliament at the European Innovation Summit. He characterises how the knowledge society needs to be a driver of innovation and outlines the cornerstones of the future European innovation policy. This includes, amongst other things, the aspects of open innovation, of standardisation as a facilitator of innovation, and of the need for new, innovative models for IPR handling.

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“The growth of the middle class is very important in China, though it’s still at a fairly early stage,” said Carl Riskin, a professor of Economics at Queens College and senior research scholar at the East Asian Institute at Columbia University. “China will no longer be able to rely on the limitless capacity of Americans to consume beyond their means. So the Chinese government has been eager to find ways to “re-balance” and make growth more dependent on domestic demand.”

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