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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.

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Last week, we challenged readers to draw the outlines of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. from memory, and then graded each attempt using an algorithm to measure how closely each submission resembled the correct shape. Based on over 2 million submissions, we are now able to measure which states were the hardest and which were the easiest.

While some of the results were what we expected, other states were surprisingly confounding. As you might guess, the easiest state was Colorado, where 93% of participants scored at least a 'B' and usually an 'A' or 'A+'. (Colorado is almost a perfect rectangle when one uses the common map projection used in Web applications.)

Image: http://time.com 

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A new startup accelerator program based at the Johns Hopkins University’s FastForward East will target companies developing health and fitness technologies.

Hopkins is teaming up with the University of Maryland, Plank Industries, Brown Advisory and the Abell Foundation to launch the 16-week program, called M-1 Ventures, in September.

“I see all these accelerators out there and they’re cool,” said Paul Singh, an angel investor who will lead the program. “But particularly when it comes from an investor’s standpoint, I think what a lot of these companies need is a vertical accelerator.”

Image: Johns Hopkins University's FastForward East is located at the medical campus in East Baltimore. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun 2016) 

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Over the past few years, Disney’s accelerator classes have been transitioning away from what was once a roughly standard early-stage growth framework. Rather than the “adopt-a-company” models prevalent among most accelerators, it has been leaning hard into how it can create mutually beneficial relationships with companies that run the gamut from well-established to really just beginning.

Image: https://techcrunch.com/ 

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smart city

Sam Pitroda, 75, is best known as the technology whiz who transformed India’s telecommunications industry to make connectivity widespread and affordable some three decades ago. Armed with a veritable carte blanche from Rajiv Gandhi, India’s prime minister in the mid- to late 1980s, he went on to lead technology-focused missions in water, dairy, literacy and immunization, among others.

Today, Pitroda is an evangelist for the global smart-city movement, a role he dons under his nonprofit think tank called The People for Global Transformation. The think tank, with offices in Boston, Paris and New Delhi, is advising mayors and implementing pilot projects in cities in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, India and the Middle East. It was one of the organizing partners of Cities for Life Paris 2016, a global summit on “inclusive, smart and resilient cities” held in Paris in November 2016.

 

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A Food and Drug Administration panel opened a new era in medicine on Wednesday, unanimously recommending that the agency approve the first treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight leukemia, transforming them into what scientists call “a living drug” that powerfully bolsters the immune system to shut down the disease.

If the F.D.A. accepts the recommendation, which is likely, the treatment will be the first gene therapy to reach the market. Others are expected: Researchers and drug companies have been engaged in intense competition for decades to reach this milestone. Novartis is now poised to be the first, and it is working on similar types of treatments for another type of leukemia, as well as multiple myeloma and an aggressive brain tumor.

Image: Emily Whitehead, 12, with her parents Tom and Kari Whitehead, on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The family appeared at a hearing for the F.D.A. about a new treatment for leukemia. Credit T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times 

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LONDON (Reuters) - One of the biggest icebergs on record has broken away from Antarctica, scientists said on Wednesday, creating an extra hazard for ships around the continent as it breaks up. The one trillion tonne iceberg, measuring 5,800 square km, calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica sometime between July 10 and 12, said scientists at the University of Swansea and the British Antarctic Survey.

Image: Larsen-C Ice Shelf crack as of March 3 2017. Credit: O.V.E.R.V.I.E.W. Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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WASHINGTON—The health of American democracy depends in part on marshaling the science and practice of innovation to bolster faith in the legitimacy of government by improving its effectiveness, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the country’s leading science and technology think tank. In the report, ITIF proposes a detailed set of recommendations for the White House Office of American Innovation to transform the enterprise of government by applying customer-driven innovations to federal processes, services, and organizational models.

 

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This Vertical Farm Wants To Be An Agriculture Company Not A Tech Company

As the indoor farming industry has taken off in the last several years–over the next 10 years, indoor farming is expected to account for 50% of leafy green production, and grow to a $42 billion industry–it’s become apparent that it’s as much about technology as it is about agriculture. Bowery, a new startup operating out of an old warehouse building in Kearney, New Jersey, developed a sensor-based proprietary technology, called FarmOS, specifically to support the venture by determining necessary nutrient levels, as well as when crops are ready for harvesting. And in South San Francisco, Plenty is growing produce via a tech-supported vertical farming model that has already received $26 million from tech investors like Bezos Expeditions and Innovation Endeavors.

Image: The FreshBox model centers around shipping containers. (Photo: courtesy FreshBox Farms)

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city

Mayors across the U.S. are investing significant resources to develop what the Brookings Institution calls “innovation districts,” in an attempt to accelerate urban and economic development, catalyze job growth, and shift their cities’ reputations toward being incubators for progress.

These districts are also providing a new type of idea collision space during meetings and conferences for visiting organizations to engage local tech and creative thought leaders in different growth industries.

 

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Once a predominantly blue-collar city, Pittsburgh today relies on a diversified innovation economy and a highly educated workforce. University-based research is focused on life sciences, information technology and robotics, which are major economic drivers for both the region and nation.

Despite a slowly shrinking population, the city’s multifamily market remains steady, bolstered by increased hiring in recession-resistant sectors—such as education and health services—which has had a ripple effect on the region’s economy, driving demand for apartments and office space. Most of the growth can be attributed to the two largest health-care systems, UPMC and Allegheny Health Network, as well as education institutions such as the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and Robert Morris University.

Image: https://www.multihousingnews.com 

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taxes

The federal New Markets Tax Credit program (NMTC) is designed to encourage investment in distressed or low-income communities.  The New Markets Tax Credit Coalition* recently released its 2016 New Markets Tax Credit Progress Report.

The report’s findings are based on a survey sent by the NMTC Coalition to all Community Development Entities (CDEs) receiving an NMTC allocation. 87 CDEs that have received a total of $26 billion in NMTC allocations since 2003 responded. Survey respondents represented 80% of NMTC program activity in 2016.

 

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