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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 Vodafone (News - Alert) Americas Foundation will launch the second annual Vodafone Wireless Innovation (News - Alert) Project. The project is a competition in which the most path breaking advances in wireless related technologies, which are helpful in solving critical problems around the globe are identified and rewarded.

The foundation will accept the entries from October 5, 2009 through February 1, 2010, while the final winners will be announced on April 19, 2010 at the annual Global Philanthropy Forum which is a nonprofit partner of the Wireless Innovation Project. The first, second and third-prize winners of the Wireless Innovation Project will receive a total of $600,000 from the Vodafone Americas Foundation.

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Canadian scientists and inventors have no problem coming up with discoveries and new technologies that should have the world beating a path to their door. Unfortunately, many valuable Canadian innovations end up gathering dust because entrepreneurs can't find the money they need to successfully bring them to market.

Turning an idea into a successful business takes patience, excellent management skills, specialized knowledge and a great deal of money. It's a risky, complex business but absolutely vital to Canadians' standard of living.

 

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Bangalore: When Pune-based sanitation services provider Saraplast Pvt. Ltd started hunting for funds late last year, it was confident of attracting investors. The company had all its documents in place, a three-year track record of profits and a business model that it thought could be scaled up.

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MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA selected 152 proposals for negotiation of Phase 2 contract awards in the Small Business Innovation Research program, or SBIR. The selected projects have a total value of approximately $91 million. NASA will award the contracts to 126 small high-technology firms in 27 states.

The SBIR program works with NASA’s mission directorates to competitively select ventures that address research and technology needs for agency programs and projects.

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The federal Department of Education sketched out a new nationwide competition on Tuesday under which some 2,700 school districts and nonprofit groups are expected to compete for pieces of a $650 million innovation fund.

The department already has the 50 states vying for chunks of a $5.4 billion education improvement fund that it calls Race to the Top; the innovation fund is a separate competition.

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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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