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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. Obama Administration’s Commitment to Building Advanced Biorefineries Can Create Green Jobs and Economic Growth with Additional Action

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Additional Congressional action is needed to follow through on the Obama administration’s recently announced initiative to rapidly build an integrated value chain for the bioeconomy, create jobs and kick start economic growth. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today released proposed policy options that provide needed incentives to support U.S. job growth incentivizing commercial scale biorefinery projects for production of advanced biofuels, biobased products and renewable specialty chemicals.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, stated, “The economic recession created an extra hurdle for companies trying to build biorefineries for advanced biofuels and value-added biobased products. Industrial biotechnology solutions for advanced biofuels are ready, and companies have achieved significant successes in achieving research and development goals. Given the current economic climate, what is needed now is significant capital investment.

“The Obama administration correctly recognizes that large-scale production of advanced biofuels can be a significant driver of green job creation, energy security and greenhouse gas reductions. We applaud the policy initiatives announced yesterday, which call for federal coordination of programs to help integrate the complete biofuel value chain. This is a good first step in helping to stimulate the private investment needed to build new biorefineries. However, more needs to be done to de-risk investment in new technologies so that they can scale up to meet national goals. Congress can take action to ensure that these programs are adequately funded and targeted so that the effort will stimulate additional private capital investment.”

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WhatsnextIn Washington, the Biotechnology Industry Organization followed up on a shift in US biofuels policy with a call for four new steps it said would increase the pace of biofuels commercialization.

BIO called for:

• Revising the risk assessment process for advanced biofuels projects in the current Department of Energy loan guarantee program;
• Double funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to deploy cellulosic feedstocks; include eligibility for value-added biobased materials, products and chemicals;
• Funding the reverse auction for cellulosic biofuels already incorporated in law;
• Funding development and deployment programs for biobased products and renewable specialty chemicals.

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Microsoft losing its ability to innovate?Microsoft defends itself against innovation claims: Microsoft has hit back at an article written by a former vice-president that argues that the company has lost its edge in innovation and risks business failure as a result. The former executive, Dick Brass, who worked at Microsoft until 2004, wrote in The New York Times that Microsoft had become a “clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are lampooned, often unfairly but sometimes with good reason.” But Microsoft vice-president of communications Frank Shaw has hit back, saying: “For Microsoft, it is not sufficient to simply have a good idea, or a great idea, or even a cool idea. We measure our work by its broad impact.” [The New York Times] [PC World] [Microsoft blog]

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SO YOU’RE sitting down for your daily helping of soap opera, you don a pair of 3D specs in front of your 100-inch plasma TV and the mundane dramas of Fair City are transformed. Cars in Main Street seem to park themselves in your living room, pints at McCoy’s fly over the counter and threaten to poke you in the eye; Ray O’Connell’s moustache almost seems to tickle your chin.

It might take a few years for three-dimensional technology to reach Carrigstown, but the future is already on the way, if Japan’s consumer electronics giants are to be believed. Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba are all set to roll out 3D-TVs and accessories this year in a bid to capitalise on the global popularity of James Cameron’s sci-fi eco opera Avatar.

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The University of North Carolina (UNC) believes it has come up with the Holy Grail of technology transfer - a standard license fee scheme in which one set of terms can be used for any deal, bypassing lengthy negotiations and getting the technology out of the lab more quickly.

Licensing schemes for transferring technology are the bane of university technology licensing officers and their corporate partners alike, with most licenses requiring their own special terms.

There have been earlier efforts, like the TurboNegotiator software developed by the US University-Industry Demonstration Partnership. The programme aims to help universities and industry quickly identify areas of agreement and areas that still need work, speeding the negotiating process.

Meanwhile, the Kauffman Foundation Experts’ Solution for University Technology Licensing Reform has argued that university technology licensing offices have, over time, become monopolies that slow commercialisation. It recommended that faculty choose their own licensing agents, saying the increased competition would speed up commercialisation of new technologies, while at the same time allowing universities to collect the same royalties as they do under the current system.

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Gov. Jennifer GranholmGov. Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday laid out initiatives to help entrepreneurs and small businesses, making them a key focus of an address shepherding in her final year in office.

In her eighth State of the State address touching on a variety of economic development and job-creating efforts designed to lay a new foundation for the state, Granholm announced plans to spur small business development in the state, through expanded entrepreneurship training, improved access to capital, and revamped tax credits for investors that provide seed money to budding ventures.

“She has coalesced around, as we have been talking about for a long time, the issue of where jobs really come from. And that is small business,” said Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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Mplayit, maker of the mobile app catalog that lives inside Facebook, will release a report later today that lists the top games in their collection. Tetris, The Sims 3, and Wheel of Fortune are among the winners. So are Tap Tap Revenge and Rock Band.

On Mplayit, users can rate, comment, and recommend individual apps to their social network on Facebook and Twitter. They can browse friends’ app collections, and follow their interests.

The most interesting stat in the report is that while games account for only one in five of the 130,000 iPhone apps at Mplayit, they’re half the traffic. By contrast, games are only 30 percent of BlackBerry traffic and 20 percent of Android.

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Creating and ConsumingONE OF THE MOST PROACTIVE means of developing the smart economy is starting to unfold between the Clonmel Chamber of Commerce and Tipperary Institute. It looks simple on one level because all you would see is a casual networking session between creative students and curious business owners. But underneath today's two-hour meet-up in Baker's Bar, several creative multimedia students were doing a sanity check of a hyperlocal project. The end result is relatively simple: to produce a series of 80-second internet-ready video clips about Tipperary. Underneath the surface, we're testing a premise of "breakthrough creativity" as we seek out the headwaters of truly innovative ideas. Gabriela Avram first alerted me to the concept during a Limerick OpenCoffee meeting nearly two years ago. Since that time, I've concluded that the creative economy has started to replace the knowledge economy because business leaders increasingly rely upon innovation rather than productivity as the key to expansion. In the case of my timetabled hours with students, I will gladly count as "complete" a project specification that emerges 20 minutes into a two-hour tutorial since that deliverable marks a defined milestone. There's no need to sit around for another hour and a half playing with a deliverable that's ready for working.

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Let's face it. Executives are under a lot of pressure to follow the latest management trends.

Columbia business school professor Eric Abrahamson, who has written about the diffusion of managerial innovations, calls this the "norm of progressivity": the expectation that you either follow the latest management innovations — even if they later prove misguided — or suffer a diminished reputation among your peers, the press, and your shareholders.

Thus it's little surprise that nearly every company now has some sort of experiment or program relating to open innovation. Open innovation means reaching out to take advantage of talent beyond the firm (or responding to such outreach opportunities). It's a terrific concept, borne out by several oft-repeated examples such as InnoCentive and GoldCorp.

But are companies, with all their good intentions, getting the most from open innovation? We suspect that the initial successes, encouraging as they are, represent only the beginning. What if open innovation were defined more broadly and more ambitiously? Could even greater value be realized? If so, what would the next wave of open innovation look like?

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1999_pirates_of_silicon_valley_stevevsbillA few months back, I noticed a bunch of folks tweeting about the 1999 made-for-TV-movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley.” I remember hearing about the movie just as I was moving to Silicon Valley that year, but never got around to watching it. I had heard mixed things about the movie, and its accuracy, but the tweets seemed pretty positive, so I decided to rent it and see for myself.

It exceeded my tremendously low expectations. Though as far as factual accuracy, it’s hard to say where truth ends and creative license takes over. The movie hits some of the high points of the emerging battle between Microsoft and Apple as told through the stories of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And narrated by their wingmen: Steve Wozniak and Steve Ballmer.

There’s an amusing scene, about 20 minutes in when Wozniak and Jobs walk out of the famed Homebrew Club in 1976, having triumphantly demonstrated a version of their personal computer:

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The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s (BFTP/NEP) Board of Directors approved the investment of $599,800 in support of regional economic development. The investments are with seven early-stage technology companies and two established manufacturers.

BFTP/NEP’s goal is to help lead northeastern Pennsylvania to a better economic future by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for competitive advantage. To achieve this goal, Center staff concentrate their efforts on three key areas:

1. developing early-stage technology-oriented companies,
2. helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technology and business practices to achieve industry leadership, and
3. promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies.

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Register now for the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance 2010 Annual Conference, to be eld on Thursday and Friday, March 25 and 26 in New Orleans, LA. The Annual Conference is the premier training and networking event for anyone interested in developmental venture capital. An introductory workshop precedes the conference on Wednesday, Marc 24. Attending this event provides an in-depth look at leading funds and best practices in the industry, and serves as the ideal entry point to the conference as a whole. Go to our website for more information:

The Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA) is the network for the rapidly growing field of community development venture capital (CDVC) investing. CDVC funds provide equity capital to businesses in underinvested markets, seeking market-rate financial returns, as well as the creation of good jobs, wealth, and entrepreneurial capacity.