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Global Direction

Innovation and Inclusion: The Key to Sustainable Global Growth

Including more people in global innovation systems will enable more people to be part of today’s technological revolution; Supercharging innovation will require a consideration of values and what the implications of rapid change are for our societies

Dalian, People’s Republic of China – Innovation is the essential key to “charting a new course for growth” and inclusion across the global economy, the Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum’s ninth Annual Meeting of the New Champions agreed at the closing session. “We have to supercharge innovation,” declared Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation, USA. “We have to give more tools to more people. With innovations and technologies, we now have vast new possibilities. We can make innovation available at the micro level. We can help millions of people who are in desperate need to improve their own lives.”

Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Airbnb, USA, agreed. “Democratizing innovation means including more people in the innovation process and getting them to come to the table. So many people feel that they are not part of the innovation, that it is happening to them and that they are more the victim,” he said. Added Blecharczyk: “It is really a question of the values. As we innovate, how do we roll out that change? There is no question that change is going to happen. But what are the implications? We have to manage the dialogue about the implications and this has a lot to do with values.” Innovation, he observed, requires global collaboration, raising questions about cybersecurity and privacy, which are important issues requiring some agreement on values.

“We need a more relaxed environment to foster more innovation – more flexibility and more encouragement, particularly for those who may have failed,” reckoned Cheng Wei, Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Didi Kuaidi, People’s Republic of China. “We need to have a supportive and inclusive environment.” Baker stressed that it is particularly important to give support to women and girls, who are still likely to find themselves in situations where they are in the minority or even alone.

“Innovation can help us have a much better world and solve global problems,” said Jeffrey R. Tarr, President and Chief Executive Officer, DigitalGlobe, USA. If the pace of technological change were slowed, “this would be a less stable world – one with more poverty, more hunger, more refugees.” Obstacles such as censorship or onerous regulator limits cannot impede creative minds, argued Li Ruigang, Founding Chairman, CMC Capital Partners, CMC Holdings, People’s Republic of China. “Creativity can surpass any attempts to limit it. Creative technology will overcome any boundaries limiting business.”

Certainly, the technological advances anticipated in the coming five to ten years, including leaps in data gathering and analysis, robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, will only make it more difficult to slow the pace of even more innovation. Disruptions are happening across sectors such as health, education and the automotive industry. Computing power is increasing exponentially. Concluded Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and Rotating Chief Executive Officer, Huawei Technologies, People’s Republic of China: “We should make the world more connected – a super connected world. This means you will have faster speed of connections – downloading high-definition video in a second. The networks will respond much faster than ever before.”

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