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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.

Here’s the latest from VentureBeat’s Entrepreneur Corner:

Shoestring marketing for startups – Young companies typically don’t have the budget for a substantial marketing campaign, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As you search for your niche and your company evolves, serial entrepreneur Scott Olson offers advice on the best ways to get a big marketing bang for your buck.

Lean startups aren’t cheap startups – Too many entrepreneurs assume the lean startup methodology is a way to save money. It can be, but that’s not the idea behind the philosophy. Serial entrepreneur Steve Blank clears up some of the confusion, clearing up some commonly held misconceptions.
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In early 1998, Bill Gates headed Microsoft at the peak of its commercial powers. The world’s preeminent software giant claimed a 90 percent market share in all desk and laptop PCs and it was difficult to imagine anything that could unsettle, much less evoke fear in, the Sultan of Software.

Nonetheless, when asked what challenge he most feared, Gates responded, “I fear someone in a garage who is devising something completely new.” Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the cofounders of Google, were that very pair. Nestled in a Menlo Park, Calif., garage, these two software engineers were preparing to launch a product that would change the way the world used the Internet.

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New York (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns to Washington, D.C., Monday to address a conference of the American Jewish Federations at a time of concern in Israel that the U.S.-Israel relationship is adrift.

Although Netanyahu has used each of his recent U.S. visits to make the case for confronting Iran and its nuclear ambitions, he might consider broadening the subject.

Israel's leader should speak to Americans not just about what threatens Israel, or what Israel's critics say, but also on what is unique about his nation's economy at a time of great economic uncertainty for Americans, when the unemployment rate here has just crossed the 10 percent threshold.

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The post I wrote a couple of weeks back - Is Ireland Really and Innovation Island? – received more interest than usual and in particular generated a very interesting discussion in the comments that is worth checking out. The conversation around the need for an online network for innovators and entrepreneurs continued offline with Michael and Johneric. I’ve volunteered to articulate what I see as the essence of that conversation to see if there is potential in developing something practical out of it.

No Shortage of Irish Innovators

All are agreed on this at least, even if some think that IDA, EI and multi-nationals need to do more to support and foster budding entrepreneurs. The Internet is now facilitating a whole new breed of lazy entrepreneurs. However there are many innovators that for very practical reasons will probably never bring their great ideas much further than a few scribbles on scraps of paper.

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Last week we had the chance to make three separate presentations to MBA and IT major students at both Stanford University and the University of Berkeley, Haas School of Business.

The response was very positive overall, with lots of questions from both sides. The presentations had slightly different focus:

The Eight Things I Learned in Asia” at Stanford, with a focus on Asia, culture, career and innovation (for a group of Asian Stanford students). Talk and discussion duration: 90 minutes

Rethinking Innovation” at Berkeley with a focus on innovation / business models, with the purpose of challenging some common misconceptions about Asia, inventors, innovation. It includes a few “problems” I asked students. The presentation highlights the importance of cross-market/cross-cultural aspects to understand how some companies succeed while other fail in Asia (and by extension, elsewhere). This talk was given twice, to groups mostly composed on MBA students. Total duration: 90 + 120 minutes
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Careful academic research on the business start-up process reveals that many entrepreneurs never write a business plan.

These studies also show that writing a business plan helps entrepreneurs in a number of ways, including improving their odds of successfully developing a new product, organizing a company, accessing external capital, obtaining raw materials, generating sales and surviving over time. Regardless of what measure of performance academics have looked at, research shows that writing a business plan has a positive impact.

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The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, pre-issued its 2010.1 SBIR Solicitation. The full solicitation will be released on November 18th and the agency will accept proposals until 4:30 PM on January 4th. Phase I Awards are up to $100,000.

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NIST TIP white papers

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Technology Innovation Program (TIP) seeks comments from academia, federal, state and local governments, industry; national labs, and professional organizations or societies on white papers prepared by TIP staff.

TIP was established at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to assist US businesses and higher education institutions or other organizations, such as national labs and nonprofit research institutions, to support, promote, and accelerate innovation in the US through high- risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need. The program, which holds competitions for funding based on addressing areas of critical national need, identifies and selects topics for areas of critical national need based on input from within NIST, TIP’s Advisory Board, the s&t communities, and the public.

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I’m sure I’ll spark the ire of some VC’s for saying so, but there is certainly such a thing as black-out days in venture capital. It’s worth you knowing this so you don’t waste your time. It’s also very important to understand so that you can properly plan when you raise money.

Let me first tell you the black-out periods and then I’ll explain why. It is very difficult to raising venture capital between November 15 – January 7th. It is also very hard to raise VC from July 15 – September 7th. (you need to have had your first meeting even earlier.) If you’re thinking about raising VC and have not yet started the process, you’ve probably already missed the boat for 2009.
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The tricks to success change all the time, but the keys to failure are consistent. Serial entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan put together this list in a lecture in Stanford University’s entrepreneur thought leader speaker series in 2003 – but it’s as relevant today as it was then. Hubris, greed, lack of clarity and dumb hiring mistakes continue to be the biggest problems in the start-up world.

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Nobody delivers profanity better than Bruce Willis. Nobody. Perhaps that’s why he’s seen so much of it in practically every script he’s tackled during the last 20-odd years. We don’t have a final count on the number of F-bombs our man Bruce dropped in his latest flick, Surrogates, but we can say with some authority that a world filled with robotic avatars gone amok would drive anyone to repeated vulgarity.

But 2017? Surrogates would have us believe that just eight short years from now, we’ll have retreated to our homes and left the “real” world to synthetically pimped-up alter-egos? Is it conceivable that we, as naturally exploratory human beings, would want to do that? Is it conceivable that such technology would even exist just 3,000 days from now?

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KALAMAZOO – The Michigan investment climate is improving, according to a panel of private equity finance professionals who spoke Tuesday during the MichBio Expo in Kalamazoo.

With such recent successful sales to much larger company – including Ann Arbor’s HandyLab and HealthMedia – a signal has been sent to Wall Street that Michigan indeed has great deal flow, said Greg Main, CEO and President of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

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(Nov. 5) -- The United States may have officially entered the age of woman.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this fall, for the first time in U.S. history, women have surpassed men and now make up more than 50 percent of the nation's workforce. In 1967, by comparison, they accounted for just one-third of all workers.

Signs of the changing landscape in gender relations are just about everywhere you look:

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Retail sales are projected to decline this holiday season for the second year in a row, an occurrence unprecedented in the entire history of the federal government keeping statistics on such things. Online retailers will continue to face stiff pricing pressure, as they have for more than a year. Free shipping has become almost the ante in such a competitive environment.

That's why Amazon's shipping program, Amazon Prime, is so impressive. For a company that ships 100 percent of its products, finding a way to neutralize pressure on shipping costs is no small thing--especially when it's competing with Walmart, which offers its online customers 97 cent shipping on many products, or the option to pick up their orders at a nearby store for free.

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In April, San Francisco startup made enough money to allow the firm's founders to hire employees so they could expand their online marketplace that enables people in 93 countries to rent spare rooms to travelers.

Since then, the startup has created seven jobs - a tiny step in the right direction at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate has risen to a 26-year high of 10.2 percent.

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Steingrimur J. Sigfusson, Icelandic Minister of Finance says he has submitted new bills on innovation to the Althingi parliament. If the Minister gets his way, innovation companies will be able to benefit from tax breaks and investors will be able to subtract shares in innovation businesses from their taxable income. The total package could be worth as much as ISK 1.5 billion to innovation companies each year.

The Minister spoke about the proposed assistance at this week’s conference on development and new business. He used part of his speech to talk about developments in other countries and spoke about his own bills which have already had their first parliamentary debate. He said that companies can already get part of their research and development costs refunded if carried out with the knowledge and approval of the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS).

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In a recent article1, we investigate the new American dynamic in regards to innovation.  We are particularly interested in the article « Creating a National Innovation Framework », published in « Science Progress », which proposed a new system of governance of innovation by the American federal government. However, we wanted to know more – so the Mission for Science and Technology (Boston Section) contacted one of the article’s authors, Mr. Richard Bendis, to ask him a few questions. The phone interview took place on October 27th, 2009.


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On Thursday after a month of consideration, the Senate approved the $64.9 billion Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill by a 71-28 vote. The Senate initially began considering the bill on October 5th, but tabled the debate after failing to invoke cloture on October 13th.

Included in the bill are the following appropriations for federal science and engineering agencies:

  • $6.9 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $426 million increase over FY 2009 and $128 million below the President's request.
  • $878.8 million for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), a $59.8 million increase over FY 2009 and $32.7 million increase over the President's request;
  • $18.69 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in FY 2010, a $903 million increase above the FY 2009 and equal to the President's request.
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The Department of Energy (DOE) this week announced that it will provide up to $4.5 million in funding in support of the X PRIZE Foundation's work to inspire a new generation of energy efficient vehicles. The funding will provide technical assistance and expand national education and outreach efforts for the competition.

"This funding will support cutting-edge, American innovation that can help us fundamentally transform personal transportation and address the global climate crisis," said DOE Secretary Steven Chu.

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Today, the United States is the leader in innovative health care. Most major medical breakthroughs, new procedures and drug treatments are invented, developed, tested and offered in America first.

Some claim that our higher cost of medicine is not matched by measures of national health such as rates of infant mortality, life expectancy and diabetes. These statistics do not measure the quality of health care but rather the choices Americans make in diet, exercise, pregnancy and lifestyle.

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