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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.

As president of the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1994 to 2008, G. Wayne Clough was often asked why he didn't attend meetings of the Association of American Universities.

Georgia Tech was not a member, but "people were always saying, 'We thought you were in,'" says Mr. Clough, who is now secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

It was a reasonable assumption. The AAU represents universities with the most prestigious profiles in research and graduate education. Georgia Tech has long been strong on both counts. The university's share of federal research dollars topped the shares of almost all non-AAU, comprehensive universities, as well as those of quite a few members.

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The brains of the VC’s are wired differently and startups should know how to deal with them.

A venture capitalist is a person who invests in a business , providing capital either for start-up or growth. Venture capitalists aim for a higher rate of return than would be given by more traditional investments. My years of interactions with VC’s have made me come to a conclusion that their brains are certainly wired differently. Just like entrepreneurs demonstrate certain common traits across the world VCs have certain traits. And when it comes to India I think the breed goes through another generation of transformation. To help entrepreneurs and startups better understand how to deal with the complex brains of the Indian VCs, I have put together my version of their brain map. Of course this is generic and there are many exceptions to the rule.

Ego
Being a VC in an emerging markets like India is like being a VIP. You are at a very high pay scale, constantly being pitched by smart entrepreneurs, called to give speeches at every
major conference. At business plan events they are almost mobbed and receive endless amounts of emails, phone calls, SMS most of them trying to desperately convince them into liking them. They meet CEOs of top companies, are in influential company boards, and get an ego massage from everyone who meets them, what a great tie! I like your hair style, i love that advice you gave me, that investment of yours is the next Facebook are very common compliments. Its but natural for any human who is living in an environment like this to develop a bit of an EGO. Its really complex dealing with such people and you too can easily get into the EGO massaging mode. However I think what really works with VC’s is being real and challenge them, question them and you dont have to agree with them on everything and deal with them like a real person.

the-vc-brain

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One evening last month, the mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, took to the podium at a downtown theater. The occasion was the state of the city address, and despite the mayor's best effort to project optimism, the truths facing America's 11th largest city are grim. The budget deficit is at least $85 million. The police department doesn't have the money to safeguard Detroit's vast, sparsely populated territory. The school system is a mess, and its emergency financial manager plans to shut nearly a quarter of the city's public schools by summer. Bing plans to shrink Detroit's government and shed thousands of jobs — an unpopular proposition in a city already boasting a 25% unemployment rate. Outside the theater, protesters waved signs that read, "FIRE THE MAYOR," and "SAVE OUR CITY." Inside, Bing spoke plainly: "We've been hit the hardest by what many call 'the Great Recession.'" We simply cannot afford to continue down this road." Days later, an independent report would suggest that Detroit's actual budget deficit might be $400 million, and that the best route for survival is possibly bankruptcy.

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Emirates NBD Seed Capital loans are available up to a maximum of AED 2 million with easy qualification and repayment terms. The move by Emirates NBD comes at a time when self-employed nationals are increasingly recognised for their contribution to the UAE economy and the government plans to introduce a new law to help streamline and speed-up the process of setting up new businesses.

“Small businesses account for 46 per cent of the country’s GDP and new business start-ups make a significant contribution to this,” said Jamal Bin Ghalaita, Group Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Emirates NBD. “Our aim is to inspire more UAE nationals to develop their entrepreneurial ideas into fully fledged business enterprises, which are of vital importance to the growth and prosperity of our economy.

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Welcome to PIThere are ideas and there are ideas. The venture industry, the ‘ecosystem’ and even other folks you meet will jump right into slotting the idea as fundable or not, scalable or not, or even feasible or not. Then there are these other tags and cliches you’ll hear – lifestyle business, capital intensive model, non-monetizable, feature-not-a-product.

But sometimes, the best way forward is to be Nike and just do it. Many an idea dies too early a death caught in analysis-paralysis, and killed by the negativity of thoughts even before its crystalized into a business. Most businesses figure out their exact packaging, revenue streams and the real costs and possible optimizations somewhere along their lifetimes, not as a solved problem upfront. How do you know you’re not going to discover scale as you go along ? How can you be sure there are no other market segments you may be able to address as you come across them ? Optimism and hope are an entrepreneurs currency, and surely many ideas can be made to work. Sure, they may probably not be very attractive VC businesses as they stand when you start out. But that’s about the lousiest reason to not do it!

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Eric Ries, left, with Farbood Nivi of Grockit, an online education network. Early on, Mr. Ries says, companies must create something there is a real market for. ERIC RIES and Steven Blank think they have a better way to build a start-up, one that takes less time and money to try new ideas and find paying customers. They are leading proponents of the “lean start-up” — a fresh approach to creating companies that has attracted much attention in the last year or so among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, technologists and investors.

The concept is gaining a following beyond the Valley as well. “If it works, it will reduce failure rates for entrepreneurial ventures and boost innovation,” says Thomas R. Eisenmann, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “That’s a big deal for the economy.”

The term “lean start-up” was coined by Mr. Ries, 31, an engineer, entrepreneur and blogger. His inspiration, he says, was the lean manufacturing process, fine-tuned in Japanese factories decades ago and focused on eliminating any work or investment that doesn’t produce value for customers.

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READ: Responding to Clinton

In an interview yesterday with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Bill Clinton highlighted the crucial role of American colleges and universities in a world that is, in his words, “unequal, unstable and unsustainable.” The back story to the President’s vision involves both good news and bad news. The bottom line is maximizing the impact of these great institutions is not simple but definitely worth the effort.

First, the good news. If you are looking for a long term bet on drivers of innovation in our society, universities are the place to start, because they are going to be around long after the newest “flavor of the week” has come and gone. Consider the following: Of the 85 institutions in existence since 1522, 70 are universities (two others are the British Parliament and the Catholic Church). As Dean Roger Martin recently told me, universities have long runways. Increasing their impact may take a while but you can be sure it is worth the effort.

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Dan Rosen, Joe Wallin and William Carleton: As we have previously blogged, Senator Dodd's financial reform bill has posed a grave threat to angel investment and startup communities nationwide by virtue of two provisions in the bill that would have upended Regulation D.

These "reforms" were ostensibly to address the problem of unscrupulous brokers, dealers, and promoters who have abused Reg D to defraud investors. The problem was, the provisions in Sen. Dodd's bill were unnecessarily broad.

Fraud is uncommon in angel investment transactions, and there were other ways to reform Reg D without gutting the rule that is working well to make startup and angel financing safe and efficient. Here's a quick refresher on the two problematic provisions in Sen. Dodd's bill, problematic for startups and angels.

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Chicago (PRWEB) April 23, 2010 -- Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP partner and chair of the firm's Cleantech and Renewables group Richard B. Hoffman provides a detailed and cautionary tale for innovators in the renewable energy and clean technology fields who regularly share information on their inventions with the external sources and vendors they work with. Hoffman summarized these issues in an article which appeared in the April 2010 issue of Biomass Magazine (http://www.biomassmagazine.com/article.jsp?article_id=3622).

"Often in working with people outside of one's company when dealing with research and development problems, innovators need to share information to work towards a solution," said Hoffman. "But if not navigated cautiously, these third-party inquiries can have serious consequences for innovators and the intellectual property rights of their inventions."

Interactions with third-parties frequently arise when an innovator's organization simply is unable to supply all the technical requirements for an invention internally. Innovators reach out to academics, outside experts and consultants, equipment builders and subcontractors, prospective business partners, testing companies, repair technicians, software developers, and sales representatives throughout various stages of developing and testing the invention. Problems can arise when information is exchanged and there is no clear indication of who retains control of it.

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Credit Union TimesThe SBA said today $2 million in grants are available to governors of states and territories to support programs for innovative and technology-driven businesses.

Under the agency’s Federal and State Technology partnership program, the grant funds are used for outreach and technical assistance to science and technology-driven small businesses with an emphasis on helping socially and economically disadvantaged firms compete in the SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

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http://www.siliconsolar.com/shop/solarimages/AA-Ni-Cd-Solar-Powered-Batteries_D1255462638.jpgIf cleantech is the innovation focus du jour, where should forward-thinking investors look for the next most interesting investment opportunity?

Think ‘integration,’ specifically IT and cleantech, says Kef Kasdin, general partner with Battelle Ventures and Innovation Valley Partners. “Smart-grid technologies – deploying networking technologies to enable better energy utilization and to obviate the need to build more fossil fuel power plants – offer significantly differentiated, breakthrough technologies,” she says.

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Emergent Energy Group has received the Babson College Student Business of the Year Award (SBYA).

Emergent plans, designs, and facilitates the advancement of community-based alternative energy projects and sustainable ventures. Its services help public and private entities to assess their existing renewable energy resources, and to optimize their energy portfolios into the future. http://emergentgroup.com/

Runner-up business in the SBYA competition is ThinkLite LLC, a company created in an effort to help Americans go green without the green price tag. It is an energy efficiency firm dedicated to helping communities, businesses, and homes save money on monthly energy bills while saving the environment.  http://www.thinklite.net/

The Student Business of the Year Award, established in 1959, is presented by the Babson College Alumni Association in recognition of an undergraduate student’s outstanding commitment to launching and operating a successful enterprise while pursuing an education. Selection is based on initiative, character, originality, persistence and success, with emphasis on the learning experience. Winners exemplify Babson’s entrepreneurial tradition.  For more information, visit http://www3.babson.edu/Events/studentventuring/sbya.cfm

The Student Business of the Year Award presentation was among Babson’s Celebrating Student Venturing events this year.

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