NCVA, Deloitte: Health of World Venture Capital Markets Depends on Strong IPOs

Venture capitalists worldwide believe that the current IPO activity is too weak, and it will not support a healthy industry in their respective national economies.

In a recent survey by NCVA and Deloitte, approximately 80 percent of the polled venture capitalists said that their countries were registering very low levels of initial public offerings. The survey also reveals that many venture capitalists see the high returns from initial public offerings as key to achieving high returns to portfolio companies in development and to limited partners.

Venture capitalists from France, India, Brazil, China and the US were the most energetic in stating the importance of having a very active IPO market in their national markets, followed by Israel, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

In the US, 91 percent of the respondents said that an active and healthy IPO market was vital to the country’s venture capital markets. However, only 36 percent said that other countries’ IPO markets had an impact over the success of the US industry.

Moreover, 87 percent of the polled venture capitalists said that the current US IPO activity was too low, as the global venture capital industry was looking to the US to provide a healthy market.

Worldwide, 87 percent of the participants in the survey said that the stock exchange with the greatest potential for venture-backed initial public offerings was NASDAQ, followed by NYSE, with 39 percent, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange, with 33 percent.

Deloitte & Touche partner, Mark Jensen, said that the industry was clearly still affected by the fallout of economic downturn, especially through a less than desirable number of exit opportunities. However, he added, as the liquidity crisis eases and the economy shows signs of improvement, a most sought-after turn of tide might be close.

Zoosk Survey Reveals Opinions of Singles on Taboo Conversation Topics and Splitting Checks

More than 4,500 US members of the Zoosk dating community gathered their thoughts in the latest Zoosk survey, revealing the “trends” of the US dating world during the summer of 2011.

Summer months will see an increase in dating, as 51 percent of the singles polled by Zoosk in the US said that they planned to boost up their dating during summer. They also said that outdoor dates are more fun than indoor ones, and they identified some of the worst first-date conversation topics, among other things.

Co-CEO and co-founder of Zoosk, Alex Mehr, said that the survey aims to help singles with their selection of dating options.

The Zoosk survey revealed that the worst conversation topic on a first date was talking about the ex. Particularly men are appalled by the idea of having to hear about the exes of their dates, with 71 percent saying that this topic would be a buzz-killer. In a proportion of 67 percent, women agree that this is the worst topic. Although not as bad as talking about the ex, personal health issues are also frowned upon, with 19 percent of the survey participants saying that they don’t want to hear about medical issues of their date. Other bad topics are politics and religion, pointed out by 9 percent and 6 percent of poll participants, respectively.

A thorny subject on a first date is paying the check. Men will find that women are quite open to splitting the check. When asked, only 18 percent of the men said that the check should be split compared to 35 percent of women. Furthermore, only 64 percent of women think that the guy should pay, while 81 percent of men thought it was their duty. There is also a small group of 1 percent on each side that thinks women should pay the check on the first date.

Another useful finding for the singles that plan on dating this summer is that men are quicker to judge how well a first date is going. Male participants said that they usually made up their mind within the first hour, some even after 15 minutes (29 percent). Women usually decide by the end of the date. However, even if the date is not going as expected, men are more likely to suck it up and see it through in the hope that it would get better (93 percent compared to 85 percent of women). The exceptions are New York men and Tampa women, who would use the excuse of not feeling well to cut short a bad date.


Increasing the Energy Efficiency of Buildings Requires Proper Incentives and Financing

The 22nd edition of the Energy Efficiency Forum of North America highlights solutions that could improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

The leaders attending the Forum pointed out that making available incentives and financing could lead to increased energy efficiency of buildings. The forum, co-sponsored by the Energy Association and Johnston Controls, looked into how consumer education, energy policies, and advanced energy efficiency technologies can lead to considerable improvements in the fields of economic growth, global competitiveness and energy security.

Senator Jeff Bingaman told the energy experts and policymakers attending the forum that the Senate committee on Energy and Natural Resources was highly interested in offering opportunities that will allow the federal government to become a model for the use of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies. He added that such measures and policies could save taxpayer money, boost the energy market and create an increasing number of jobs in the private sector.

Furthermore, implementing current technologies for energy efficiency is the cheapest option to moderate the country’s energy demand, while also providing the fastest results. Accelerating the implementation of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies could stall the projected increase of the country’s consumption of energy by 2030.

As indicated by the 5th annual survey on Global Energy Efficiency from Johnson Controls, the top barrier in the way of improved energy consumption was the limited access to funding, while government incentives and savings in energy costs were identified as the main motivators. The survey was conducted with the participation of 4,000 people, and the results were announced at the Forum.

The Building Efficiency president at Johnson Controls, Dave Myers, said that building accounted for nearly half of the energy consumption worldwide. He added that, despite the fact that their owners want to improve energy efficiency, the lack of real funding options was hampering their efforts.


Conference Board: April Ended with Positive Evolution in the LEI for China

The Leading Economic Index issued by the Conference Board for China posted a value of 154.5 in April, representing a 0.2 percent increase compared to March.

The growth was slower than in March, when the LEI for China advanced by 0.9 percent, but the evolution is still above the February performance, when the index decline 0.1 percent.

According to resident economist for the China region at The Conference Board, Bill Adams, the evolution of the China index is in line with the slower economic activity in the months to follow. Despite weak production indicators and consumer expectations, the LEI for China increased in the first months of the year, driven by an expansion of construction activity and in credit.

A less optimistic economic climate in Europe and the US has also impacted on the Chinese export sector.

The Conference Board index that measures China’s current economic activity – the Coincident Economic Index – had a better performance in April than the LEI, posting growth of 1.3 percent, to 201.8, following increases of 1.3 and 0.6 percent in March and February, respectively.

The contribution of all six elements of the index was positive, and each indicator was accurate. The LEI aggregates six separate indicators allowing noise to be filtered out in order to reflect the economic trends with more accuracy.

The China Leading Economic Index was first issued in 2010 and applied to the Chinese economy backwards to 1986. The index managed to represent the key points in the Chinese economy and the economic cycles.

The Conference Board also produces Leading Economic Indices for the US, UK, Spain, Mexico, Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Australia and the Euro Area.


Food Sensitivity Role in Gastrointestinal and Skin Disorders Affirmed by Recent Studies

A team of Italian doctors from the Pavia University’s Teaching Hospital reported at the annual EAACI meeting that they had success in the treatment of skin and gastrointestinal disorders by factoring in food sensitivities. By testing the patients’ reaction to certain foods, they managed to identify reactive foods and avoid them during treatment. This course of treatment proved highly successful.

Dietary changes and testing for patients’ food sensitivity are increasingly recognized by health care providers and researchers as a viable treatment for several chronic health issues.

The Italian doctors used the food and chemical sensitivity test ALCAT. Skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, Crohn’s, IBS, celiac disease, and a number of auto-immune diseases responded well to the change in diet based of identified food intolerance and sensitivities.

Two recent studies showed that using a diet centered on ALCAT test results improved the symptoms of skin disorders for 97 percent of the patients, of which 66 percent presented significant improvements. Gastrointestinal symptoms were also improved by a diet based on eliminating certain foods in 98 percent of the patients. In this study, the most significant results were obtained in patients with more severe symptoms.

These results are in line with a study from the University of Maryland, which showed that the celiac disease and gluten sensitivity were different at the molecular level and through the immune response they triggered. Continued work at the center identified three key factors in auto-immune diseases. These are a hyper-permeable, sensitivity to foods and chemicals and genetic predisposition. Food sensitivities act as triggers and, by identifying them early on, can reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the patients’ quality of life.

ShopSmart Poll: More Than 80 Percent of Women Own Swimsuits

More than a third of women purchase a new swim suit every year, but the process is not an easy one. A national survey featuring in the ShopSmart magazine, July issue, reveals that most women face a number of challenges when looking for a new swim suit. Some 65 percent said they had difficulties finding a swim suit that flatters them. Furthermore, 45 percent said it was quite hard to find swim suits that fit them.

ShopSmart editor-in-chief, Lisa Lee Freeman, said that the process of swim suit shopping can be daunting. This statement is supported by the fact that an average woman owns about 17 pairs of shoes and 7 pairs of jeans, but only 3 bathing suits. She added that, while the process may be more difficult than shopping for other clothing, the results are bound to be satisfying if women give it enough time and shop for their body type.

The survey revealed that most women would start shopping for a new swim suit in May, and they spend, in average, 47 dollars for one. About half of the women who participated in the survey said they shopped for bathing suits in department stores, and only 27 percent shop online.

Bikinis are the most popular swim suit style among women with ages between 18 and 34 years, but the least popular overall. Thongs and swim suits that are inappropriate for a woman’s age are considered offensive by 28 percent and 31 percent of the participants, respectively.

When it comes to looks, only a third of the interviewed women said they liked how they looked in a bathing suit, and 18 percent said they were completely displeased. The main source of anxiety for most women is the abdomen, with 42 percent saying that they are weary of showing it off. Furthermore, 31 percent of women complained that most swim suits don’t offer sufficient coverage on the upper body, 42 percent are discontent with the support, and 30 percent are unhappy with the model of the suit’s lower piece.

The survey was conducted by phone across the US, with the participation of more than 1,000 women aged 18 and above. The margin for error is +/-3.1 percent and the confidence level sits at 95 percent.


Manpower: Employers Continue to Seek Highly Specific Skills amid Growing Unemployment

Manpower Group suggests that employers in the US are still hesitating to hire more staff in an environment characterized by moderate demand for workforce and a slight increase in unemployment.

The global provider of staffing solutions, Manpower Group, indicates that because economic recovery is going slow, employers are reluctant to hire anything less than the perfect person for the job. Most employers are trying to find the perfect employee for the job, as such their requirements are highly specific and hard to find within a single person.

This behavior continues in an employment environment where unemployment increased to 9.1 percent in May, despite the creation of 54,000 jobs in the private sector created in May alone.

Manpower Americas President, Jonas Prising, said that employers are still very cautious with their plans to hire new personnel, and the few positions they open are kept open until the company finds the perfect-fit employee. At the moment, they are stretching their workforce thin, waiting for a boom in demand of services and goods. Nonetheless, when the coveted increase in demand happens, their companies will not be able to be as selective as they are now. The current trend might lead to an employability crisis, as companies will not be able to find new staff in the ranks of available workers.

The 2011 Talent Shortage Survey released by Manpower confirms this assessment. According to the survey, 52 percent of employers said they had difficulty finding staff with the desired set of skills, up from 14 percent last year, putting the figures at a six-year high. On the opposite end, workers grow confident in their ability to find work, the number of those who think the contrary falling by 261,000.

To resolve this conflict, the Chairman and chief executive officer of Manpower Group, Jeffrey Joerres, said, employers will have to “manufacture” the desired skill sets, instead of trying to find perfect candidates.

Vegetables and Fruit Make for Half of Any Healthy Meal

Fruits and VegetablesThe food pyramid was replaced by the US Department of Agriculture with a food plate, MyPlate – the icon showing Americans in an easy-to-understand recommendation on what a balanced meal should contain.

MyPlate is based on the scientific data behind the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. The new icon suggests that half of any healthy meal should be made of fruits and vegetables.

The chief executive and president of the nonprofit foundation Produce for Better Health, Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, said that the recommendation made by the US Department of Agriculture through MyPlate to make half of our meals fruits and vegetables represents a great step in combating obesity and other conditions derived from dietary imbalances.

She further commented that the MyPlate icon was easy to understand and remember. Furthermore, it is encouraging to see that the Dietary Guidelines have increased the recommended quantity of fruit and vegetables steadily since 2005 in what is considered the ideal, healthy meal.

The foundation recommends to those interested in pursuing healthier diets to check the, which offers recipes, tips and advice for meal planning, all focused on the goal of including more vegetables and fruits in daily meals. The website counts more than 1,000 recipes, many of which can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. The website’s visitors will also be able to watch videos, which offer tips and advice on how to store, select and prepare vegetables and fruit.

The website is geared towards helping people make a sound investment, which will bring long-term benefits to their health.

Student Achievement Linked To Stress Experienced By Teachers

Student Achievement Linked To Stress Experienced By Teachers  A new study by research professor Teresa McIntyre from the University of Houston, department of psychology, will focus on job stress in the teaching profession. The study will begin at the beginning of the upcoming school year, and it will follow 200 teachers for the 7th and 8th grade as well as a few thousands of students. The study will take place for three years.

Teresa McIntyre will be the main investigator in this study, which is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. The research team was awarded a grant of 1.6 million dollars.

Teresa McIntyre said that one reason for initiating this study is the void in specialty literature. She said that research on teachers’ stress in the US is limited and that there is no comprehensive study or audits that reveal the number of stressed teachers.

The study aims to identify the outcomes and predictors of stress on the job for teachers in middle schools. The research team will look into how teacher stress relates to the behavior of students and their achievements through teacher effectiveness. The results of the study will then be used to develop interventions aimed at helping teachers through job-related stress, thus improving their performance, as well as student learning and behavior.

The study will focus on middle school teachers because of the level of difficulty in relationships between teachers and students at this level. Students are in their adolescence period, when they go through many developmental changes that affect their social environment, as well as their performance in school. Dealing with students in this phase of their life can be highly stressful for their teachers. In a pilot study conducted in 2010, Teresa McIntyre discovered that about 30 percent of teachers in middle schools can be highly stressed.

European Businesses Put High Priority on Expansion of Data Centers

A new independent annual survey revealed that European businesses place the utmost importance on expanding their data centers, leading to increased demand of data center space. The survey was commissioned to Campos Research and Analysis by data center provider Digital Realty Trust and it polled 205 UK and European companies.

The survey revealed that more than 80 percent of European businesses planned to increase the infrastructure of their data centers in the coming year. Furthermore, 82 percent of the businesses that participated in the survey indicated that the expansion of data centers would “probably” or “definitely” take place in 2011. About half of the polled European companies planned to expand their data centers in more than two locations.

The results of the survey point towards the strengthening of the market for data centers.

Approximately 73 percent of the companies that intended to expand their data center infrastructure this year plan to operate the expansion in European territory, and the majority preferred their own country. The most popular destination proved to be the UK (37 percent). Other popular locations were France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, with percentages of 30, 26 and 21, respectively.

The second largest market for data center expansion, outside Europe, was the US, with 25 percent of the European businesses indicating they were interested in expanding their centers there. The Asia-Pacific region placed third, with 21 percent.

The reasons quoted for expansion were disaster-recovery, improved security and the implementation of a strategy for business consolidation.

The survey was conducted in January and it polled companies with annual incomes of at least 600 million pounds and with more than 2,000 employees. The surveyed companies were located in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Ireland and UK.