U.S. Workforce Lacks Skills to Compete in Global Economy, Survey Indicates

U.S. adults are less proficient in basic reading, math and problem-solving skills than many of their international counterparts, according to the first Survey of Adult Skills from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD found that, overall, U.S. adults possessed below average proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. In most of the countries included in the study, younger adults entering the workforce generally possessed better skills than older adults leaving the workforce, leading to better prepared labor pools over time. In the U.S., however, adults 55-65 years old performed at levels close to the international average, while younger adults ranked among the least skilled in the 24 countries surveyed.

Social Venture Matchmaking Service Launches in Ontario; Report Looks at Impact Investing

The Social Venture Connection (SVX), a new impact investing platform in Toronto, was launched to catalyze debt and equity investments in socially driven ventures that have demonstrable social and/or environmental impact and the potential for financial return. Developed by the MaRS Discovery District, SVX provides local, socially minded accredited investors (e.g., high net-worth individuals, foundations and financial institutions) a savvy web tool to make investments in vetted nonprofit or for-profit organizations.

U.S. Reverses Four-Year Downward Trend in Competitiveness

While the conditions of the U.S. economy continue to hinder growth, stability and efficiency in the financial markets and a positive assessment of public institutions have helped improve the nation’s competitiveness and reverse a four-year downward trend. In World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2013-14, the U.S. moved into the number five spot, up from seventh last year, overtaking the Netherlands and Sweden. For the second year in a row, Switzerland, Singapore and Finland held onto their first, second and third rankings, respectively.

Selecting Europe's Innovation Capital: A Good idea?

The European Commission is offering a €500,000 (US$655,700) prize to accompany designation of an "iCapital" — the single city in the Union, which is building the best "innovation ecosystem", connecting citizens, public organizations, academia, and business. Should the U.S. federal government follow suit? Probably not without modifications.

Obama Administration Launches Initiative to Promote Startup Cooperation with Latin America

The Obama administration is seeking closer economic cooperation with Latin America to enhance opportunities for startups and SMEs in the U.S. and across the hemisphere. This week, the U.S. State Department is launching the Small Business Network of the Americas to promote international cooperation between TBED institutions in the Americas.

U.S. Research Universities Launch New Initiatives for Tech-Based International Development in Africa

U.S. research universities have launched several new initiatives to impact international development across Africa by leveraging their institutional knowledge to support tech-based economic growth on the continent. The African Development Bank, a regional multilateral development bank, also announced that it will commit $45 million for the creation of a Pan African University consisting of five thematic institutes focused primarily on science, technology and innovation.

Is National Public Support for Accelerators on the Rise?

The rapid proliferation of accelerators world-wide has raised questions about whether this model is viable and sustainable. Though many accelerators have been founded and funded by private investors, accelerators are now getting a public boost on both sides of the Atlantic. The European Commission and the U.S. Small Business Administration are both becoming involved in the accelerator phenomenon, perhaps representing an expanded role for national (and quasi-national) public support for accelerators.

Around the World in TBED

Two projects, one in the United Kingdom and another in Africa, are working to improve the information economy, university training and research in their respective regions. A new United Kingdom strategy includes a partnership between the national government, industry, and academia in support of the information technology sector. In Africa, the World Bank will engage in an international effort to promote education and research, supporting regional economic development across the continent.

TX, GA, NY, TN Incubators Top Global University Business Incubator Index

Rice University's Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship has been named the top university business incubator in the world by the University Business Incubator (UBI) Index based in Sweden. The group reviewed 550 university business incubators and studied 150 incubators to determine the top incubators in the world based on their value for the ecosystem, their value for clients, and their attraction rate and past performance. Other U.S. incubators that made the UBI Index Top list include VentureLab, the University of Buffalo Technology Incubator, and Tech 20/20.

Nations Establish R&D Networks to Boost Manufacturing Competitiveness

As developed nations slowly rebuild economies damaged by the Great Recession, many are looking to innovation and manufacturing to spur their economic revival. Similar to President Obama's proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (See the March 14, 2011 issue of the Digest), several foreign government are developing networks of manufacturing research and development (R&D) centers to strengthen the ties between research and industrial needs. Recently, the European Union (EU) announced a €100 million ($131 million US) commitment to establish five pilot advanced manufacturing R&D centers within its member states. The EU joins Australia and the United Kingdom in the list of countries that have proposed focused, large-scale, national networks in recent years.


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