IBM, Intel, TechStars and the White House start up America

No, America didn’t suffer a breakdown. But according to a “Startup America” campaign launched by the White House to encourage high-growth entrepreneurship in the U.S., it could use a jump-start of entrepreneurial energy. Multiple tech companies will contribute to the campaign but some of the biggest announcements come from IBM, Intel and Techstars, a startup-incubation program.

Boku and Zong let Verizon customers pay via their phone bill

Boku, which lets users make purchases with their mobile phones the same way they would with a credit card, just announced a partnership with the BilltoMobile payment service, which is directly connected to the Verizon Wireless billing system. Rival payment service Zong has established the same partnership.

How to pitch to tech journalists

Here at VentureBeat we receive a considerable number of bad pitches, both from PR firms and from entrepreneurs themselves. To make life more tolerable for everyone, we have decided to provide some tips on how to ensure that your pitch is not one of them. Let’s start with some typical examples of the bad pitch.

Amazon acquires LoveFilm, Europe’s Netflix, for approximately $200 million

Amazon today announced that it has acquired LoveFilm, Europe’s leading movie subscription service, for an undisclosed sum, but a figure of around $200 million is being bandied around. Amazon already owned 42 percent of Lovefilm. The LoveFilm service and website will remain live, but no other details of Amazon’s plans for the service have been released.

RightNow acquires Q-go to improve customer service with natural language search

Natural language processing specialist Q-go was just acquired by RightNow Technologies for $34M. RightNow handles customer service for companies: It operates customer support centers and can handle every interaction with customers via company websites, email, mobile apps, support communities and social media.

Generation tech: More kids can play computer games than ride a bike

If you were in any doubt that technology is now a fundamental part of kids’ lives, these statistics prove it: 69 percent of children aged 2-5 can use a computer mouse, but only 11 percent can tie their own shoelaces. More young children know how to play a computer game (58 percent) than swim (20 percent) or ride a bike (52 percent). There is no gender divide. Boys and girls under the age of 5 were equally adept at using technology.

Google still dominates advertising but Facebook is on the rise

Google has been criticized lately for a decline in the quality of its search results, but that hasn’t stopped it from continuing to dominate the market in search advertising with 83 percent market share, according to a new research report from IHS Screen Digest. Its only real rival is likely to come from social media.

HeyStaks makes searching social

Search engines don’t seem to have evolved much since the dawn of Google. If Google was the sports car of search engines when it launched, it’s now a rather rusty vintage sport car.

Skype founder develops a passion for fashion via Fashiolista

Atomico Ventures, the investment fund of  Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, just made a seed investment of $500,000 in Fashiolista, an online fashion community. Having seen Zennström in person, I can vouch for the fact that he is no dandy, so his investment firm must see the potential for solid returns in the area of fashion.

The next solar hotspot is … India?

Which country will emerge as the next best market for solar energy? Surprisingly, the answer is India, with its abundant sunlight, exploding demand, and gigantic, mostly off-grid population.

Ciara’s top posts of 2010

Tech journalism, and tech companies, for me have always been about ideas and their ability to change the world. What matters is not only the strength of the light you can shed on a subject but what you choose to illuminate. For me, technology should either be delightful or do something important or both. Here are the articles I loved writing in 2010:

3D printing: The state of the art

We have all spent a wasted day shopping, or worse, regretting our purchases. You often can’t find a pair of jeans that fit perfectly or a lamp that matches the fuchsia stripes on your wall. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get exactly the product you want?

Coming soon … a green laptop that runs on water?

Green chemistry company SiGNa Chemistry has unveiled a new chemical process for generating hydrogen from water, which the company says could solve both of the most vexing hydrogen fuel cell problems: real-time hydrogen generation and storage.

Aupeo’s Internet radio comes to the Nokia Ovi store

German startup Aupeo bills itself as “Pandora for the rest of the world”, providing curated Internet radio channels as well as a personal music channel based on recommendations. It just launched a range of free apps for the Nokia Ovi store. This makes the company the main streaming music provider on Nokia’s app store.

Saplo’s API reads text so you don’t have to

Imagine a technology that can read and “understand” any block of text. That’s what Swedish startup Saplo does. It’s a sort of “Pandora for text” whose ultimate aim is to filter articles, tweets, ads or any other types of text based on your preferences. It can also group together similar text items, find related ones and even judge whether the text expresses positive or negative sentiments.

Smart grid in Europe is all about renewables

George Bernard Shaw once claimed that England and America were “two countries divided by a common language”. This adage may hold true even when the language is smart grid.

Nabto nabs $1 million in funding for tiny web servers

Nabto makes web technology for devices like medical appliances (see Medotech’s Grindcare) and building automation devices. The Danish startup just closed a new funding round combining funds from previous investor Østjysk Innovation, the Danish government-backed fund Vækstfonden and some private investors. The new financing will mainly be used to boost Nabto’s sales and marketing.

Save energy with Veutility’s “appliance DNA”

Veutility is a new addition to the crowded energy management market. The company’s main selling point is that it uses data from a single smart meter to calculate a signature for each appliance drawing electricity. Veutility calls this signature “appliance DNA”. This signature is then used to track that appliance’s energy consumption via a web interface.

Treemetrics 3D scanning helps loggers make more money cutting fewer trees

Treemetrics is taking forestry high-tech with its 3D laser scanning system to accurately measure the height, straightness, taper and volume of the trees in a section of forest. Currently measurement is done manually by a forester walking the ground and using calipers to measure the radius of a sample of trees. Better measurement means that fewer trees can be cut while maximizing value. Treemetrics claims that its system can also reduce measurement costs by 75 percent.

Return of the Celtic Tiger: Can renewables refuel the Irish economy?

Ireland has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, starring in a soap opera of EU intrigue and enforced bank bailouts. Watching my home country’s progress over the past few years has been like the troubled career of singer Amy Winehouse: huge talent and instant riches followed by a rapid and self-inflicted downward spiral cataloged in tabloid headlines.

CloudBees’ Java dream team lands $4M from Matrix Partners

CloudBees, which offers cloud services for Java developers, just announced $4 million in Series A financing led by Matrix Partners with participation from individual investors, including JBoss founder Marc Fleury and JBoss/HP/Bluestone veteran Bob Bickel. CloudBees was founded by former JBoss CTO Sacha Labourey in August this year.

Hydrogen refueling ramps up in Norway

A new hydrogen refueling station supplied by the Danish company H2 Logic will be installed just outside Oslo, Norway in summer 2011 as part of Norway’s “hydrogen highway”. Together with another planned Oslo hydrogen station in 2011, this means Norway will have one of the world’s densest hydrogen refueling networks.

LG releases first water treatment solution

Consumer electronics giant LG just unveiled its first wastewater treatment solution, the Green Membrane Bioreactor (G-MBR) process, a mere two months after the company announced plans to enter the water treatment business.

IBM: Parking spot tracker Streetline is the world’s smartest startup

IBM’s smartcamp global entrepreneur competition culminated in Dublin today with 9 startups from all around the world competing for the title of the “world’s smartest startup”. From 660 original applicants the final winner was Streetline, which helps cities track parking violations and drivers to find parking spots.

Seedcamp, Europe’s Y Combinator, closes $4 million fund

Seedcamp, a seed fund that is best described as Europe’s version of Y Combinator, just announced the closing of its second fund of $4 million. This fund is 50 percent larger than the first fund, raised in 2007.

Abeo thinks BIG for its superlight structures

For a company which has only been in existence since June this year, Danish startup Abeo has been racking up the awards for rethinking an everyday construction material — concrete.

Glass company invests $2.6 million in NLAB Solar’s cheap, transparent solar cells

NLAB Solar just landed an investment of $2.6 million from Fasadglas Bäcklin, Scandinavia’s largest glass facade company. NLAB Solar manufactures energy-producing dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC). The cells which can be integrated into transparent and colored facades such as those produced by Fasadglas. The funding will be used to accelerate product development in NLAB’s new plant in Stockholm.

ZenRobotics robot recyclers go for green in the CleanTech Open

For such an essential part of the green economy, recycling remains a dirty, messy business. Enter ZenRobotics, which adds artificial intelligence to industrial robots to enable them to recycle construction waste. The company recently won Finland’s CleanTech Open competition and will represent the country at this week’s Cleantech Open Global Ideas Final.

UK aims to recreate Silicon Valley in East London

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled how the government intends to create a high-tech hub in east London to rival SiliconValley. The planned new East London Tech City (known locally as Silicon Roundabout) will cover the Olympic village and the East End and has already attracted commitments from companies like Facebook, Google and Cisco.

Rise of the machines: Machine to machine communications market booms

Global revenue from sales of wireless telecommunications modules for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) systems are set to rise nearly sevenfold between 2010 to 2014, according to market research firm iSuppli. M2M modules are part of the phenomenon known as the Internet of Things and allow devices to communicate with each other using mobile technologies like GRPS, EDGE and CDMA 2000. Isuppli predicts that the M2M communications module market will generate total revenues of $1.0 billion in 2010 and will rise to a massive $6.5 billion by 2014.

Remote controls take over the world’s living rooms

One third of living rooms in the US and over half of those in UK, France and Australia have four or more devices that need remote controls. So says a survey from universal-remote maker Logitech.

Europe and China see lowest venture deal counts on record

Cleantech isn’t the only investment area that’s bleeding green. According to the Dow Jones VentureSource, venture capitalists put $1.2 billion (€916 million) into 198 European companies in the third quarter of 2010. This is the lowest quarterly deal count for Europe since the company began tracking the region 10 years ago and represents a 25 percent drop from the third quarter of 2009.

9 more startups charging the Super Grid

The super grid, the focus of this week’s GreenBeat 2010 conference, isn’t just the domain of huge companies like GE and Cisco. The opportunities to create a clean, self-healing energy network, dynamically integrate renewable energy and local power sources, and automatically lower electricity demand are so big that startups are finding numerous niches to exploit. Besides the 10 startups presenting at GreenBeat’s Innovation Competition, here are nine more worth watching.

32 companies charging the Super Grid now

The super grid, the theme of VentureBeat’s next GreenBeat conference, involves a bewildering array of technologies and companies from industry behemoths like GE and Cisco to disruptive young startups. Together, they’re taking existing efforts to build a smart power grid to the next level. With billions of dollars of untapped potential in the profitable collision of information technology, energy, and cleantech, it’s no wonder so many pioneers are staking out territory.

The super grid. Coming soon to a power outlet near you

If there is one technology which is truly essential and ubiquitous in our world, it’s electricity. Yet few of us have any idea how the power grid works. That’s going to have to change. Understanding the grid of today is the key to building the grid of tomorrow, a theme which VentureBeat will explore next week at its GreenBeat 2010 conference at Stanford University. The theme: “Charging the Super Grid.”