Massachusetts Tops U.S. Innovation List, Lemonade Goes National, Nokia, Vodafone Expand IoT Ecosystem

Massachusetts Tops U.S. Innovation List

Massachusetts is the most innovative state in the U.S., according to a Bloomberg ranking. This is the second year in a row Massachusetts has won the top spot.

Investment in higher education and research, according to Bloomberg, are what drove the win and what drives innovations overall.

California was at #2, followed by Washington, based on the six metrics Bloomberg uses to rank states: R&D intensity, productivity, high-tech density, concentration of STEM employment, number of STEM degree holders, and patent activity.


Sprint Accelerator Enters Global Network

Kansas-based Sprint Accelerator has joined the Global Accelerator Network, which includes more than 70 accelerators on six continents.

The move is part of Sprint’s new exclusive focus on fostering partnerships between corporations and startups, providing its members with access to a variety of goodies, including data, mentors, investors, and all sorts of resources.

Sprint’s membership in the GAN also includes access to other accelerator programs from around the world, to foster best practices exchange and new partnerships.


Tech Startups in New York To Get New Hub

A $250-million project initiated by Civic Hall and RAL, a development company, will see the New York tech startup community get a new training hub and meeting spot.

Construction of the 14th @ Irving, as the project is called, should start in 2018 and will open its doors in 2020. The facility will comprise classrooms and meeting spaces as well as offices for fresh startups.

Civic Hall, which was set up as a community center for tech innovators focusing on civic applications, will be in charge of managing the project’s education partners, including General Assembly and Coalition for Queens.


BNP Paribas Launches Second Fintech Accelerator Round

French lender BNP Paribas has announced the start of the new round of its Fintech and Corporate Accelerator program.

The four-month program offers a selection of startups access to the bank’s knowledge base in areas such as hosting, business strategy, and technical support.

The 10 winners will be announced early next year. In this round of the program, BNP is specifically looking for startups active in asset management, vehicle fleet management, and car leasing.


Lemonade Eager to Spread Nationwide

Insurtech startup Lemonade, which recently raised $34 million from a number of venture capital and other investment funds, now plans to go nationwide in all but three states.

The company said that since its launch in New York, it has received tens of thousands of applications from customers, so now it is applying for licenses across the country, bar Wyoming, Washington, and Mississippi, where there are statutory waiting times delaying the application.

According to the company’s founders, Lemonade’s automated tech allows for quick expansion, allowing it to reach 97% of the insurance customers in the U.S.


Nokia, Vodafone, Telit Team Up on IoT Tech

Nokia, Vodafone, and Telit have joined forces to advance Internet of Things technology using Narrowband-IoT.

The partnership has so far yielded a Nokia-deployed NB-IoT system developed using Vodafone’s radio access network plus parts of its Cloud Packet Core program, and IoT technology from Telit.

The system will be offered to manufacturers of connected devices and app developers in product trials, expanding the IoT ecosystem.



Blochchain Boosts Insurtech Industry, Scenario Planning Spurs Innovation, and LendIt Launches PitchIt 2017

Northern Ireland Sets Up $7 Mln Innovation Fund

The Economy Ministry of Northern Ireland has launched a 5.7-million-pound ($7 million) program to stimulate local businesses to develop innovative products.

The Invest NI Collaborative Growth Program will favor companies from the areas of engineering, digital IT, life sciences, and agrifood.

The country’s Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, said that innovation is equally beneficial for businesses, giving them a new competitive advantage, and to the economy, contributing to growth and boosting its international competitiveness.


Insurtech Industry Could Expand to $235 Bln Thanks to Blockchain

A report by Juniper Research estimates that blockchain could turn insurtech into a $235-billion industry by 2021.

The growth, 34% from 2016, will be driven by increased investment in machine learning, allowing insurance providers to offer customers tailor-made solutions.

What’s more, machine learning will help insurers tweak and adjust their offering to customers’ “changing circumstances,” the report said, personalizing contracts and policies.


Scenario Planning Boosts Innovation

In an environment where every business is feeling the push to innovate in order to stay ahead of the competition and improve its performance, scenario planning could be a great help.

With this method, first developed by the U.S. military and then adopted by businesses including, notably, Shell, a business can glean opportunities that would have otherwise remain obscure and take advantage of them, including in innovation.

Scenario planning is simple: it involves creating a set of plausible scenarios based on economic, social, political, and business information, as well as anything else that’s pertinent. It helps bring some degree of certainty in an uncertain future by helping a business prepare for the uncertainties.


LendIt, 500 Startups Launch Competition for Fintech Startups

LendIt, the leading fintech and lending event organizer, has partnered with accelerator 500 Startups for its next round of PitchIt – a competition targeting specifically fintech startups – aimed at stimulating innovation in this fast-growing industry.

Hundreds of applicants are expected and those among them than get to the finals will benefit from exposure to investors, relevant institutions and the media, plus the mentorship of a variety of influencers in the fintech and lending industries.

The criteria for applicants include being a new company, less than 3 years old, having raised less than $4 million since establishment, and having between 2 and 10 full-time employees.


FedEx-Sponsored Accelerator in Memphis Starts Collecting Applications

The EPIcenter Logistics Innovation Accelerator, sponsored by FedEx, has opened its 2017 round of applications.

The project focuses on businesses active in logistics and transport, which will be able to benefit from a 15-week intensive program aimed to spur innovative solutions.

The main themes of the program span data-driven supply chain management, the Internet of Things, robotics, and 3D printing, among others.


Insurtech Startup Raises $14 Mln for Smart Home Solution

California-based insurtech startup Hippo has raised $14 million from a group of venture capital funds for its smart home insurance product that, its creators say, is the first one that offer coverage for connected, or smart, homes.

Hippo CEO Assaf Wand explained that unlike traditional insurers who offer coverage for sometimes obsolete items, the insurtech firm provides customers with full coverage f their electronics in a flexible and affordable way.

Among the investors that took part in the funding round were Horizons Ventures, RPM Ventures, propel Venture Partners, GGV Capital, and Pipeline Capital.

Webinar: Lean on Agile – Getting the Best of Both Worlds

Insurtech Gains Prominence, EPA Funds Green Solutions and NFL Sets Out to Help Sports Tech Startups

Insurtech Firm Lemonade Raises $34 Mln in Fresh Funding

Lemonade, the insurtech firm that popped up last year and started operating two months ago, has closed a second funding round with proceeds of $34 million. This will bring its total funds to $60 million.

Among the companies that took part in the round were GV, the venture capital arm of Google’s parent Alphabet, plus Sequoia, General Catalyst, Thrive Capital, and Tusk Ventures.

GV’s participation suggests Alphabet has plans for the insurance sector even though earlier this year it canceled its proprietary auto insurance offering.


EPA Awards $1.3 Mln to Innovative Green Projects

The Environmental Protection Agency has allocated $1.3 million for innovative environmental solutions originating from 13 small businesses.

Each of the businesses will get a $100,000 allocation for Phase 1 research into a clean tech solution. If Phase 1 ends with a success, the company will be eligible for a further $300,000 to continue with commercialization.

The EPA said that small businesses are essential for advancing the environmental agenda and building a sustainable future.


Comcast Joins Utah Incubator to Support Local Startups

Comcast Business has partnered with the Miller Business Resource Center in Salt Lake City to support local small businesses by making available to them its Ethernet network at no cost.

One client of the MBRC incubator noted that reliable, high-speed internet is vital for the success of any business, especially web-based ones.

In addition to fast, scalable internet, Comcast Business will also offer the 64 startups using the MBRC facilities a cloud-based voice and unified communications solution and Business TV services.


NFL Sets Up Sports Tech Accelerator

The NFL Players Association has set up a business accelerator to help sports tech startups that will provide them with access to rights to sports-related intellectual property in exchange for an equity stake.

The accelerator, named OneTeam Collective, will focus on businesses active in data analytics, gaming and virtual reality, sports nutrition, mobile fitness, and fan engagement.

The NFLPA holds the exclusive IP rights to more than 2,000 current players. The OneTeam Collective founding partners, who include the Harvard Innovation Lab, Intel, and Madrona Venture Group, among others, as well as several NFL players, will decide on startup applications on a rolling basis.


Accelerators Help Big Business Stay Ahead in the Innovation Game

A Capgemini analysis of how large businesses are handling the innovation challenge has revealed that business accelerators have become a major part of their strategy.

Accelerators, the authors say, put corporations in touch with the startup ecosystem, providing them with access to a large pool of innovative ideas they cannot tap in-house due to a number of constraints.

What started as innovations centers outside the firm are now accelerators that 55% of big businesses use to set up relationships with startups and work together on specific tech that would give them both a competitive edge.


5 Insurtech Trends to Watch for in 2017

Insurtech is being increasingly embraced by banks and insurance provider as they become increasingly aware of the benefits digital technology can offer.

In 2017, there are five main trends that will continue to unfold in this segment, driven by the need for more customer-specific solutions and the digital domination of virtually any sphere of life.

Micro-insurance is one of the trends, offering personalized products to customers. The emergence of new devices and channels for insurance products is another. A third trend is the evolution of blockchain, to become a key driver in insurtech solutions. The fourth trend is the growing collaboration between insurtech providers and insurers. Finally, as a result of all these, new product lines will be developed in the insurance space next year.


Dubai’s Innovation Drive, Google’s Indonesian Program, & Is Design Thinking the Corporate Savior?

Dubai’s Innovation Drive Gets Help from U.S Incubator

Washington DC-based business incubator 1776 has become the first among its peers to set foot in Dubai, to support local startups in various areas ranging from education to energy, to mobility and smart cities.

Partnering with local Future Foundation, 1776 provides the local businesses with advice on how to scale their business and also helps them establish connections with international companies, organizations, and local governments to advance on an international scale.

The partnership is in tune with Dubai’s strong innovation drive that could see it become the world’s first most sustainable smart city over the next 30 years.

Expa Labs Takes Accelerator Idea a Step Further

Expa Labs, a business accelerator set up by some of the founders of prominent Silicon Valley companies, has taken a new approach to the whole idea of the accelerator.

Thanks to substantial funds ($100 million received earlier this year) the lab cherry picks a very small number of startups to mentor and advice, and provides them with space and expertise for a period of six months, unlike most other similar organizations.

The six-month program helps forge a much closer relationship between the startup founders and their mentors from the lab, and results in much more in-depth understanding of how to take an idea to market, ultimately bringing about the success of that idea. In return, the lab gets 20% in equity from the startup

Google Invites 6 Indonesian Companies to Mentorship Program

Six startups from Indonesia will take part in the latest iteration of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator, to begin in January 2017.

From it, the participants, who come from 12 different countries, will take advantage of Google’s expertise in software engineering, product management, and public relations, as well as input from other industry insiders.

Following the end of the on-site mentorship course, the participants will be able to work with Google in their home countries for a period of six months.

Corporations Face an Innovation Challenge, Must Change Their Routine

In a world where startups are the spearhead of innovation, large corporations are at a disadvantage because of their very structure and established routine.

In order to compete effectively with the startup crowd, corporations must really start innovating, coming up with new and better products rather than releasing updates and betting on the evolution of a product over a long period of time.

The two pillars that can support corporate innovation are an appropriate internal infrastructure and smart use of external expertise tools, such as developer communities and other knowledge pools.

Design Thinking: the Corporate Savior

Large businesses are getting a run for their money and then some from startups. They are in urgent need to transform in such a way as to become more competitive with the small, lean, and agile companies.

Design thinking could help them do just that. Unlike in the past, when design was popularly perceived to be all about product development, now design thinking can help shift the focus of attention from bureaucracy to customer solutions, effectively fueling innovation.

Leveraging the main concepts of design thinking that have heled Google become what it is, such as the sprint, can make corporations leaner and more competitive.

The Future of Business is Agile

Agile is going to be the dominant business methodology in the future, according to Agile coach Aaron Sanders.

The set of principles and values it embodies encourage a more open, more horizontal approach to product development that nurtures cooperation and leads to better results than the traditional corporate vertical approach.

This horizontal approach, combined with the interdisciplinary aspect of agile product development makes it challenging for traditional hierarchical businesses.

World Bank Spurs Business Innovation, 500 Startups Rebrand, and Microsoft OpenAI Team

World Bank Spurs Business Innovation to Tackle Climate Change

The World Bank has set up a Climate Business Innovation Network targeting companies in 12 countries to help them develop clean energy tech as part of global effort to tackle climate change.

The network involves more than 30 venture capital funds, foundations, and other donors, whose purpose as members of the network would be to offer local business in the target countries access to know-how, funds, and relevant technology.

Encouraging innovation is a focal point of the network’s program, which also includes multiplying working models for climate change management and promoting new business models.

500 Startups Rebrands Accelerator Program to Gain Edge

500 Startups has rebranded its business accelerator programs in a bid to gain an edge over the multiple competitors in the accelerator and incubator industry.

From now on, it will offer businesses the 500 Seed Program and the 500 Series A Program, with both lifting the entrance bar higher.

500 Startups will pick the participants for either program based on certain metrics that prove the company is on the right growth path.

Australian Firm Boasts Unique Fund for HR Tech Innovators

Slingshot, an Australian company that links incubators with startups and businesses, has launched what it has dubbed the first accelerator exclusively dedicated to HR tech.

The Human Capital program is looking for businesses that have innovative technology ideas about talent acquisition and development, and employee health and wellbeing.

The successful candidates would benefit from a 12-week training program featuring lean startup methodology, along with the fundamental aspects of running a tech business, from branding and financial modeling, to finding investors and corporate governance.

Microsoft, OpenAI Team Up to Push AI Barriers Further

Microsoft has announced a partnership with OpenAI, a non-profit organization dedicated to artificial intelligence research, which sports Elon Musk as a co-founder.

The partnership involves Microsoft Azure being adopted as primary cloud platform for OpenAI’s research.

The aim, according to Microsoft, is to push further the boundaries of artificial intelligence in a bid to democratize the technology and make it more accessible for everyone.

Washington Boosts U.S. Startup Incubators with $15-Mln Fund

The Economic Development Administration has announced a $15-million fund that will go to business incubators across the country, as part of the i6 challenge.

The challenge, and the new fund, both aim to encourage innovation from startups by providing incubators, nonprofits, universities and other partners with the means to devise training programs.

There are 35 recipients of the funds, selected from more than 215 candidate organizations. These will now be required to develop and expand their existing cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs, the EDA said.

British SMEs Invited to Tap $5-M Innovation Fund

Small and medium businesses in eastern England have been invited to take advantage of a new $5-million business innovation program called Innovation Bridge.

The program will provide SMEs with expert advice on innovation plus access to universities with a strong track record in helping businesses develop new and successful products and services.

In addition, the program will fund up to 116 businesses with innovation grants and help set up another 62 new companies.

Bank of England Accelerator launch, The Beatles innovation push, and 7 weeks to market promised in Vancouver

Bank of England Launches Accelerator to Get Fintech Insight

The UK’s central bank has found an innovative way to get a better understanding of fintech trends: by setting up an accelerator.

Through the facility, the Bank of England will provide support for fintech startups and established companies to develop proof-of-concept in the fields of data analytics, information security, and distributed ledgers.

In addition to finding new ways to leverage the potential of fintech, the BoE will also use the accelerator’s program to spot potential new risks and dangers related to using this all-new kind of technology.

Washington Accelerator Promises Seven Weeks from Concept to Market

A new business accelerator in Vancouver, Washington, promises new businesses to teach them how to take their idea to market in less than two months.

The Bridge Accelerator, led by a freelance creative director, Dave Barkos, aims to help business owners play to the strengths of their ideas to launch the products/services that will be successful when they hit markets.

Barkos and his business partner cherry pick their clients to address their various needs, from help with marketing to completely transforming their business model to make the company work better.

The Beatles’ Studio Turns into Incubator

Abbey Road, the legendary label that shot the Beatles to fame half a century ago, is moving with the times, turning into a business incubator for tech companies with relevance for the entertainment industry.

Now in its second iteration, Abbey Road’s program involves selecting three companies that its pros will mentor for six months, supplying them with know-how, guidance, and useful contacts.

The first iteration of the incubator program involved an app maker for guitar players that struck a deal with none other than Universal; an online recording service provider; and 3D headphone tech developer, which launched a super-successful Kickstarter campaign.

Lean Startup Methodology to Become the Future Core Business Practice

The lean startup methodology was brought forward by Eric Ries about eight years ago. Since then, it has been used by thousands of businesses. According to Gartner, more than 50% of recognized corporations will use the lean startup methodologies by the year 2021 for better business decisions.

While there is a belief that core lean startup technique comes with a set of challenges, it becomes easier if the business completely understands the nature of a minimum viable product (MVP).

The experts believe that if entrepreneurs classify the essential terminology, test the why instead of what, and amplify the insights, they will be able to adopt the essence of the lean startup methodology.

Hotel Innovation Report

Hotels are in a state of rapid change. This report is a high-level industry overview of the state of the hotel industry with a focus on innovation. It explores a range of facets in today’s rapidly changing hotel and hospitality environment. The report covers four primary sections: Operations, Marketing, Markets, and Innovations.