Essentials of the week March 12 – 20

EssentialsNo, Innovation in America is not dead ! Despite the alarming messages spread out in the news, highlighting how america is losing its competitive and innovation edge, it still ranks among the best countries in the world in terms of Innovation, according to the last report released by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Among the seven criteria used to compare the countries*, the United States excel in 6 of them. The report points out that the USA’s main weakness is their inability to deploy a cohesive and attractive immigration policy for high skilled people, leading to a “brain drain” of the best foreign talents. This is not a surprise, as members of the congress have been fighting over which policy to implement for the last 5 years, with no clear results so far… The report also highlights the fragility of US innovation policy, that is clearly blurry and impedes the ability of the country to focus on strategic areas of development such as infrastructures or information technology materials. Despite all this, the United States only trail to Canada and Singapore as the most innovative country, and this ranking is to be taken cautiously, as the criteria chosen highly influence the end result.

As a proof that America’s innovation and entrepreneurship spirit are very much alive, new data released on angel investment in 2011 show that the angels have been very generous,  as they invested between $20B and $22B in early stage startups, a record-high since the 2008 crisis. They also shifted back the money toward seed and early stage startups, their traditional “preys”, which is a good sign for the new entrepreneurs looking for seed investment. Exploring a new model of “collaborative investment”  through “super angel” funds, they increased the median amount they invest in a round of financing by 40%,  up to $700k. If the competition for funding is still particularly fierce among entrepreneurs, the steady health of angel investing is definitely good news, especially as they are spread out around the country, ensuring that not only dynamic hubs as Silicon Valley or Boston receive money.

Speaking of startups, each beginning of year brings us new forecast on which technologies are going to be “hot”, and 2012 is no exception. Paul Graham, founder of the startup accelerator Y-combinator, explains his favorite new technologies in 2012, proposing that we reinvent web search, the way we interact with emails or how to facilitate diagnosis for doctors.

On the big companies side, go read the fantastic series of articles created by Stanford lecturer Nilofer Merchant, who describes how big companies can take advantage of the new social era, and why we shouldn’t rely only on startups to innovate. Full of insights for executives of all industries, these article may change the way you approach social medias and collaboration, even if you haven’t thought about it yet !

That’s all for this week’s good news, next week will certainly bring its share of new ones !

* Trade and Foreign Direct Investment, Science and R&D, Domestic Market Competition and Entrepreneurship, Intellectual Property Right, Digital and Information Communication Technology, Government Procurement and High-Skill Immigration


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