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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.

Along with sustainability and green living, social entrepreneurship is quite a hot topic. One way people can recognize their own potential for social entrepreneurship is by reading and following the works of those who are at the forefront of the movement. Social entrepreneurship is a grassroots effort that has picked up steam with the help of blogs and bloggers all over the world. By using their resources – the Internet and various social media platforms – they’re spreading the word in a way that stays true to their convictions, and still getting the message across to millions. These leaders are smart, successful, and have a great deal of insight into the constantly changing world around them. In this week’s top five, we’re exploring some of the best blogs for budding social entrepreneurs. These blogs help inspire other entrepreneurs to make a difference

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Information technology is the key to productivity growth.

As we pass the first anniversary of the financial crisis and the beginning of the economic downturn that followed, there are signs that the global economy may be taking the first tentative steps toward recovery.

This is great news, of course. A year ago, we stood at the brink of global economic disaster. Thanks to rapid intervention from governments around the world through massive stimulus spending and huge injections of capital, we seem to have avoided a total economic meltdown. And today, the engines of economic growth appear to be sputtering back to life.

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Hats off to Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, the three American scientists awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine yesterday. Their cell research demonstrates that we're on the cusp of an era of medical innovation that could radically improve lives and life spans, if government lets it blossom.

The trio was honored for discovering how chromosomes act to protect themselves from degrading when cells divide by using an enzyme called telomerase. Subsequent studies have found that telomerase is closely tied to aging and human cancers, and work on the enzyme has become a popular area of drug research. Their discoveries "have added a new dimension to our understanding of the cell, shed light on disease mechanisms, and stimulated the development of potential new therapies," said the prize committee.

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Governments are in business — in the business of public service. Whether in lean times or flush times, playing it safe is no longer playing it smart. Dramatic change is necessary today and, through the use of a series of vitamins instead of the traditional pain killers, leaders can inject innovation and a maverick-like approach into their organizational mindset of problem solving.

The source for innovative ideas that are necessary to positively impact today’s public policy issues of confronting municipalities resides in the minds of existing elected and appointed officials, along with members of their work force. The key to unhooking the straight jacket and unleashing leaders and their employees to engage in real talk about real innovation is introducing a maverick approach that disrupts the status quo way of thinking, reflected in the “we’ve always done it that way” refrain too often repeated in city halls everywhere. A maverick approach, or “maverickism,” is all about smart risk-taking that is crucial to addressing today’s unprecedented challenges.

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LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Microsoft ( MSFT - news - people ) has adopted a tough mantra for an age of austerity, arguing that innovation must take a back seat to cost-cutting and productivity gains when it comes to selling technology.

'Things have come down. I see them staying down and slowly growing,' Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, said today in a speech to British business leaders.

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The White House's plan for $130 billion in innovation funding is admirable but lacks detail, and here's why the money could be wasted, says Jeneanne Rae 

Recently, the Obama Administration issued A Strategy for American Innovation: Driving Towards Sustainable Growth and Quality Jobs. Reading it would inspire anyone to think that this Administration has a good handle on what needs to be done to shore up America's many weaknesses and keep the U.S. out in front in terms of economic as well as scientific leadership. It details where our country stands on important issues such as R&D investments, workforce skills, physical infrastructure, energy, and health care, among others. It puts forth a fairly clear and comprehensive vision for the results the Obama Administration wants to drive and provides a breakdown of where approximately $130 billion in government funding might be spent over the next several years to support this first-of-a-kind innovation agenda. Bravo!


Seeing a codified assessment and vision made my heart sing, but at the same time made me nervous. Not only is its lack of executional detail scary, but the rate of concurrent change called for shows a level of naivete that seriously undermines the plan's intention. If the health-care debate is any indication, I predict much of Obama's innovation funding will be wasted. Here are a few reasons why:

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Cheaper health-care goods and services will be created in the developing world, then sold in the U.S. That’s a big idea that Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE, has been pushing lately.

He explained it at great length in a recent Harvard Business Review piece that used the phrase “reverse innovation” to refer to creating new products in developing countries, then exporting those innovations to the developed world. (Here’s an example of how the company did that with portable ultrasound machines; here’s a WSJ article on how wider use of ultrasound in India has been fraught.)

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How do you harness the creativity of your workforce? In this age of Twitter, Facebook and other so-called Web 2.0 tools, technology seems like an obvious way to get employees to collaborate. Ditto your suppliers, customers and other interested parties.

But collaboration, high-tech or otherwise, isn’t so easy to manage. Renowned business strategist Gary Hamel is one of many business leaders to comment on the challenges of sparking workforce creativity. In his book Leading the Revolution, Hamel dedicates a chapter to Design Rules for Innovation. He notes that a company’s intent on generating sustained wealth must create “an open market for ideas…a dynamic internal market for ideas within the organization.”

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KAUST is an example of an ambitious attempt to construct a new site of knowledge production, albeit one that is significantly deterritorialized given the globalized nature of the forms and quality of the knowledge communities being targeted, and the cultural-politics of Saudi Arabia. KAUST is thus a unique experiment in how to organize an institution to facilitate innovation in scientific knowledge production, a secure and efficient compound (hence Saudi Aramco’s involvement), a defacto sovereign wealth fund, a demonstration effect for new approaches to higher education in Saudi Arabia, and many other things (depending on standpoint). Regardless of standpoint, though, KAUST is an experiment worth watching, discussing, debating about, and learning from.

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Change.org is a network focused on providing discussion and insight around the most important issues of the day, and helping people find ways to participate in tangible, meaningful action. In an effort to bring you even more of today's leading thinkers, we're launching the Changemakers Network, which will identify the activists, politicians, creatives, and other people who have the greatest influence to spark social change.

Right now, you can nominate and vote for people to be a part of this network. Being a part of the Changemakers Network will give these leaders access to blog and share messages with Change.org's network of more than a half million members and thousands of blogger and nonprofit partners.

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NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)[email protected] announced today that it has partnered with Wipro Technologies, the global IT services business of Wipro Ltd.(NYSE:WIT),to create a global innovation tournament. The objective of this tournament is to select the best and the most innovative technology-based tools that have the ability to help companies gain a competitive advantage by increasing revenues, cutting costs and improving the customer experience. Participants will be asked to submit entries to the competition by November 6, 2009. The winners will be recognized at an award ceremony, which will be held in early 2010 on the campus of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The tournament is inspired by the recently published book, Innovation Tournaments: Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities, by Wharton professors Karl Ulrich and Christian Terwiesch. One of the book’s themes is the way in which competition helps to jumpstart innovation. “We refer to it as a ‘brainsourcing’ competition because we are ‘crowdsourcing’ from the very best minds in both the academic and business worlds,” said Terwiesch. “It will be like the TV show, American Idol. You start with many aspiring contestants. They will participate in multiple elimination rounds. At the end, depending on whether the judges like their ‘act’, you will have some remarkably talented people remaining. That's a powerful metaphor for the Innovation Tournament.”

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Christchurch-based venture capital company, Milestone Capital, is negotiating a joint facility for clean technology innovation in China.

Milestone principal and co-founder of institutional investment management firm, Infiniti Capital, Kenji Steven told NBR the Chengdu government was keen to work with New Zealand to bring clean technology to China, although he was sketchy on the details.

 

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