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.
Dubai, September 27, 2009: TechnoPark, the science and technology facilitator of Economic Zones World has been appointed as an affiliate member of the World Business Angels Association (WBAA), the Brussels based international community of business angel networks and leaders.
The WBAA, launched at the Dubai Institute of Technology SMEs Forum held in Dubai in April this year, was set up for the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship through the financing of high growth start-up companies with the support of Business Angels worldwide.
State and local business organizations have launched a venture-capital "fund of funds" that aims to raise up to $200 million to finance small high-tech Arizona companies that aspire to become the future Microsofts and Googles of the world.
The private fund, which could begin releasing money by mid-2010, will zero in on innovative startup firms in areas such as information technology, life sciences and solar that can create high-paying, high-quality jobs.
I invite everyone to read President Obama’s new Innovation Strategy document and see for yourself if it adds up. To me, it is a list of priorities, important priorities to be sure, that are just stitched together in one document and called “innovation.”
It is chock full of talk about information technology, sustainability, open markets, and clean energy, stuff engineers from Silicon Valley love to champion. I champion all that too. It is chock full of all the reasons why the US is in danger of losing its economic preemience. This, too, I applaud for its veracity. But these pieces don’t add up to a national innovation strategy.
Innovation can only be encouraged, managed, tracked and measured if it is a core element in organizations growth aspirations. So it needs to be fully integrated into the strategic-management agenda and the executives top down need so as to create the conditions that allow a more dynamic innovating environment to emerge by setting out and providing the context. The very same people must be explicit in their steps to foster an innovation culture where trust, ideas are valued, these can be freely expressed and can help oversee risk collectively.
Industry Minister Tony Clement's review of the sale of Nortel Networks Corp.'s enterprise-solutions unit to Avaya Inc. under the Investment Canada Act is a flaccid gesture that masks Canada's larger failure to actively court, develop or retain flagship innovators.
The review was triggered because Nortel's accountants deemed the book value of the assets to be above the act's $312-million threshold. Avaya has yet to make the concrete job commitments that would reassure Mr. Clement that the deal is of "net benefit" to Canada (the criterion for approval). Avaya spokeswoman Lynn Buckley said that Avaya was "committed to maintaining" two Nortel research facilities, but would not comment on a report last week that up to 400 of 1,000 jobs were at risk.
Could following the next steps toward California's new clean-energy economy really lead to burdensome regulations and increased job loss? Or, instead, will the implementation of AB 32, the groundbreaking road map to that future, more likely lead to further innovation and leadership?
How we answer these timely questions could determine our state's economic future.
We cannot ignore that even with its recent fiscal woes, California has been leading a national transformation for decades in the ways we use energy, communicate, conduct business and think about innovation. Why would anyone want to impose a moratorium on our future?
Who would have believed that the country with the highest mobile subscription rate worldwide (138% as per World Economic Forum’s World Competitiveness report), the broadest high-speed mobile broadband coverage and the densest network of public internet access points in Europe is the small nation of Lithuania, sandwiched between Latvia, Belarus, Poland, Kaliningrad and the Baltic sea?
Prompted by comments I heard on numerous occasions (including geeky ArcticStartup and TechCrunch events), and equally inspired by the enthusiastic entrepreneurial community in Lithuania, I thought I’ll share a few facts.
Last week’s Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit was teeming with experts. They offered points and opinions on so many topics, with data to back it all up. Here, some of our favorite stats:
1. The No. 1 quality that successful business leaders have in common is that they started a business at a young age. –Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) (Click for video of Summit interview with Buffett.)
The longer you hang around a subject, the more interesting the rumors and misperceptions. Innovation seems to spawn a number of fallacies, probably because it is very important, haphazardly performed and misunderstood by management. The combination of importance, carelessness and ignorance probably spawns a lot of fallacies. In fact, it sounds a lot like teen sex in a way.
One interesting new fallacy that seems to be making the rounds is that "open innovation" is easier and cheaper than innovation within the four walls of your organization. Open innovation can drive more ideas, and in many cases simply bypasses the bureaucracy and sloth of an organization to attract a number of people from outside the organization. In this manner open innovation can be faster, but it is not cheaper or less expensive, nor does it require fewer resources. Open innovation just shifts the costs from an innovation team, or R&D, to legal, IP and business development. If your legal, IP and business development teams have more bandwidth or lower cost than your innovation or R&D teams, perhaps this is a logical tradeoff. But don't expect open innovation to dramatically reduce the cost of innovation.
TRENTON – Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced the launch of the New Jersey Patent Bank, a new Web portal designed to spur innovation in New Jersey and foster technology transfer between the state’s academic and business communities.
“New Jersey’s rich history of scientific research and discovery has had a profound impact on our state, our nation and our world,” Governor Corzine said. “The Patent Bank gives users access to the wealth of cutting-edge research available all over the state, particularly in our academic and research institutions. This is the exactly the type of innovation we must encourage to remain competitive in the global economy.”
Judging from the flurry of venture-capital deals, big oil company investments, and attention from politicians on startups creating biofuels from algae, it might seem like the world has fallen in love with the technology to power vehicles with pond scum. But after all of the algae euphoria this summer, we’ve started seeing a few signs of an algae fuel backlash, with several prominent investors publicly questioning the economics of algae fuel.
At the AlwaysOn’s GoingGreen conference, outspoken cleantech investor Vinod Khosla said his firm has aggressively been looking at algae technologies, but hasn’t found one viable plan after looking at “maybe two dozen.” “The economics of algae don’t seem to work,” he said. (You can watch the video here by clicking on “Renewables at Scale.”)
If you are a Early Stage Startup, your chances are of getting VC or Private Equity funding is very slim and numbers prove it – Only 9% of all the VC / PE deals have been for early stage companies between 2004 to 2008. This is especially true during the times of recession. Venture Capitalists play it safe and hardly venture in funding a early stage startups.
These are the findings of “India Venture Capital & Private Equity Report 2009”, created by Thillai Rajan & Ashish Deshmukh of IIT, Madras. The report analysis in detail the venture capital and Private Equity funding in India between 2004 to 2008.
Happy Friday! The Commerce Department will establish a new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to help small businesses grow faster, part of the Obama administration's new $100 billion innovation agenda announced earlier this week. The administration is especially interested in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs as statistics suggest businesses less than five years old accounted for nearly all private sector employment growth from 1980 to 2005.
The new office will report directly to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and help coordinate the federal government's efforts to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into actual products, companies and jobs. It will also focus on education, training and mentoring issues; improving access to capital for small businesses; and help create government-backed incentives for entrepreneurs and potential investors.
Locke will also lead a new national advisory council on entrepreneurship and innovation, stacked with various experts in the field.
The quick news is the informal conference committee hasn't done its job and no SBIR Reauthorization compromise was produced. SBIR (this time along with STTR and the DOD's CPP) has been extended again -- a mere month to October 31st. Gee. Is anybody surprised? We have a do-little-but-argue-and-sling-mud Congress. Maybe Dr. Dolittle is in charge.
Remember the Dr. Dolittle story? In the charming Hugh Lofting series of children's stories he was a doctor who eschewed human patients for animals, and he spoke their language. He lived in a fantasy world. Sort of like our Congress. But that's not why I'm raising this metaphor.
I have two reasons, actually. The first is his name -- irresistible!
It’s rare that a venture-backed startup in cleantech these days doesn’t have an eye on government funding opportunities via the stimulus package. As Battelle Ventures’ General Partner Kef Kasdin told us in an interview, “Why rob a bank? There’s money there Because that’s where the money is.”
But startups, for the most part, haven’t been big winners in stimulus awards so far. A123Systems, a later-stage battery startup based in Massachusetts (which went public on Thursday) snagged one of the largest grants in the first round of funds allocated under the Department of Energy’s highly competitive battery manufacturing program, but many more smaller companies didn’t make the cut, at least in that round. Kasdin thinks startups can do better.
The idea of small, capital-efficient venture funds is resonating so strongly among technology investors that it has spawned a support group.
Operating largely under the radar, about 30 small, up-and-coming venture firms have been meeting annually for the last four years to discuss matters of mutual concern.
The latest of these invitation-only events was last week in New York. The conference was called VC2.0, which pretty much sums up how members think their philosophy relates to venture investing, at least on the technology side.
Venture-capital firms remain on the prowl for new businesses, but it's more of a stroll than a hunt.
Venture-capital investing fell to $3.7 billion in the second quarter, down more than 50% from $7.6 billion in the year-ago period, according to the latest MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Although that second-quarter sum represented a 15% jump over the prior quarter, the number of deals remained flat at 603, PwC said.
Twitter, the fashionable microblogging service, is set to close a round of financing of around $100 million that values the three-and-a-half-year-old start-up at $1 billion, according to a person briefed on the company’s plans.
The investors include Insight Venture Partners, a New York venture capital firm, T. Rowe Price, the mutual fund company, and the current Twitter backers Spark Capital and Institutional Venture Partners.
Pro Mujer, an organization that funds microcredit cooperatives in Latin America, also provides women’s health screenings, using a special van retrofitted with medical consultation rooms and staffed by a nurse and doctor. The vans travel into remote parts of southern Peru, combining financial help with preventative health care and education.
Women in Peru get health care during meetings of their microcredit group in a program of Pro Mujer, a non-profit supported by Seattle-based Global Partnerships. The van combines mobile banking with health services to rural areas.. It’s based on a simple fact that people who are poor tend to get sick, and people who are sick easily become poor, or deeper in debt.