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Climate Change/Innovation/Growth – Growth through innovation will help fight climate change (The Korea Times)

Robert D. Atkinson

In the past decade a growing number of activists and pundits have argued that if we want to save the planet, particularly from global warming, the world can no longer afford growth. Many go further and call for degrowth: via shrinking the global gross domestic product (GDP). Examples are rife. Four natural scientists warned in an article in Nature that we need, “An equitable downscaling of throughput with a concomitant securing of wellbeing, aimed at a subsequent downscaled steady-state economic system that is socially just and in balance with ecological limits.”

Growth through innovation will help fight climate change (koreatimes.co.kr)

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Diplomacy – Innovazione e sostenibilità. Gli appunti per la diplomazia del futuro di Marco Alberti (Francesco De Palo, Formiche)

Come sarà la diplomazia del futuro? “Diventerà un System Orchestrator, ovvero chi mette assieme parti diverse per valorizzare la forza di ciascuno: parola d’ordine, aprirsi all’interazione multi stakeholders”. Lo dice a Formiche.net Marco Alberti, diplomatico e Senior International Institutional Officer di Enel, autore di Open diplomacy-Diplomazia economica aumentata al tempo del Covid con la prefazione di Henry Chesbrough (Rubbettino) secondo cui innovazione e sostenibilità sono due leve decisive e inseparabili.

QUALI RELAZIONI INTERNAZIONALI
Vent’anni fa le relazioni internazionali erano più lineari e definite: oggi come può l’Open Power essere faro per la diplomazia economica nell’era digitale? Secondo Alberti una delle caratteristiche del mondo di oggi è la complessità: essendo tutto molto più interconnesso è evidente che le chiavi di lettura tradizionali di supporto al nostro sistema-Paese all’estero andranno cambiate. “In questo contesto si è inserito il fattore digitale, che non è poco in termini di cambiamento. Occorre un’interazione molto più aperta con i destinatari di quel servizio pubblico, dove la funzione diplomatica è chiamata a creare un valore provando ad aprirsi sempre di più ad un dialogo interattivo”.

Un po’ il metodo utilizzato per il patto con l’Expo tramite i tavoli settoriali al fine di individuare le esigenze delle imprese. Questo lo spirito del libro che si ritrova nel titolo Open diplomacy. “Ovviamente non si tratta di svelare segreti di Stato o eliminare la componente confidenziale – aggiunge – ma quando parliamo di Open Diplomacy la intendiamo come una open innovation, al fine di trovare soluzioni condivise a complessità che riguardano ormai tutto l’ecosistema”.

SYSTEM ORCHESTRATOR

La digitalizzazione è in sé un discorso che abbraccia al contempo pubblico e privato, visto che l’ecosistema nazionale oggi compete nel mondo e comprende non solo le aziende ma appunto una sua sistemicità. “La diplomazia di domani diventerà un System Orchestrator, ovvero chi mette assieme parti diverse per valorizzare la forza di ciascuno e potrà dare un valore aggiunto nella misure in cui crea quel valore”.

Un tasso accelerato di progresso è sinonimo di abbondanza, scrive Henry Chesbrough nella prefazione. Perché dunque l’Open Diplomacy rappresenta una sfida ancora più stimolante anche alla luce di eccellenze italiane come Enel? L’esempio rappresentato da Enel, puntualizza Alberti, dice che in un mondo poco innovativo e molto regolamentato come quello delle utilities è possibile un grande cambiamento in termini di innovazione.

“Mutatis mutandis molti degli aspetti che hanno cambiato il destino di Enel possono essere considerati anche in ambito pubblico. L’idea che la creazione di filiere anche orizzontali sia fondamentale, non riguarda solo il sistema privato ma anche quello pubblico. La capacità di interagire su settori nuovi, la capacità di mettere assieme soggetti molto diversi tra loro, sono tutti passaggi che potenziano non poco il risultato finale”.

MULTI STAKEHOLDERS

Come dovrà essere dunque la diplomazia del futuro? Una delle caratteristiche del mondo privato, che progressivamente anche il pubblico sta osservando, secondo Alberti è quella di immaginare un futuro tra i tanti possibili e provare a realizzarlo, “aprendosi all’interazione multi stakeholders incarnando l’essenza da moltiplicatore di forze”. In futuro non si tratterà più solo di promuovere singoli settori industriali, ma anche ecosistemi o distretti tra cui si annoverano quelli tradizionali e quelli innovativi. Una missione di sistema futura? Quella in cui si presenta all’attenzione dell’estero un intero sistema innovativo. La flessibilità della diplomazia, quindi, rappresenterà secondo Alberti un valore, al fine di mettere insieme soggetti diversi.

BOTTEGA E PALCO

Le cose si imparano andando a bottega, precisa l’autore. “L’esperienza a Enel è stata come quella degli apprendisti che andavano in bottega per imparare non in termini accademici, ma in termini di osmosi proprio al fine di un apprendimento situato”.

E’questo un elemento significativo che viene dalla lettura del libro: “Alcune cose si imparano solo stando accanto a chi le fa, il cosiddetto learning by doing e ciò assume ancora più valore in un mondo dove il rapporto pubbico-privato diventa sempre più importante”. Tutti oggi parlano di sostenibilità, ma spesso ci si dimentica che sono stati i governi a decidere il quadro di riferimento dell’agenda 2030. I ricavi che oggi le aziende ottengono tramite la sostenibilità sono il frutto di un quadro di riferimento intergovernativo: “Un caso sano di collaborazione pubblico-privato dove il primo definisce le regole e i punti di riferimento”.

Un segmento significativo del libro si trova nella terza parte, quella del tempo delle sorprese, ovvero la pandemia, un accadimento che secondo Alberti “non è un cigno nero, bensì grigio, perché è stato imprevisto, ma non imprevedibile, visto che abbiamo avuto già tre epidemie negli ultimi vent’anni”.

PAROLA D’ORDINE: INNOVARE

Lo spartiacque del Covid sta impattando sui futuri programmi diplomatici e commerciali per creare valore. Un fattore che ha accelerato moltissimo un cammino verso il cosiddetto multi stakeholders capitalistico: “Significa che non c’è più solo il profitto dinanzi a tutti i players interessati (privati e Stati) ma un nuovo orizzonte caratterizzato dall’innovazione e dalla sostenibilità, due leve decisive e inseparabili”.

Oggi non è più possibile pensare di essere innovativi in funzione di business che non sono sostenibili, perché per essere sostenibili bisogna “innovare incessantemente e pesantemente”. Da qui il messaggio finale del volume: tutto ciò vale anche per la diplomazia, chiamata a registrare strategie e visioni in un mondo in continua evoluzione.

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Analysis

Globalization – Is Globalization Harming Innovation? (Dalia Marin, Project-Syndicate)

marin14_innovation globalization

Globalization encourages innovation, or so the conventional wisdom goes. But emerging evidence suggests that this assumption, like so many economic shibboleths, must be rethough.

The conventional wisdom is based on a 1991 study by Gene M. Grossman and Elhanan Helpman, which showed that, by creating larger, more integrated markets, globalization bolstered efficiency, encouraged specialization, and strengthened incentives for profit-seeking entrepreneurs to invest in research and development (R&D). The result was an increase in the global rate of innovation.

Yet recent research on China’s global impact indicates that the relationship between globalization and innovation is not so unambiguous. On one hand, Nicholas Bloom and his colleagues find that greater competition from China has contributed to an increase in patents in Europe. On the other hand, David Autor and his colleagues point out that the “China shock” has reduced the innovation rate in the United States.

What explains these divergent outcomes? One possible answer lies in changes to the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing is traditionally where most innovation happens. But in rich countries – in particular, the US – manufacturing as a share of output and employment has been declining for decades, as multinational firms have moved labor-intensive production to lower-wage economies, such as China or Eastern European countries. If innovation happens where production takes place, it makes sense that China’s rise as a manufacturing powerhouse would be correlated with falling innovation in a country like the US.

Yet this outcome is not unavoidable. Whether the loss of manufacturing jobs undermines innovation depends significantly on the way a multinational firm is organized – especially the linkages between the production and innovation sides of the business.

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If a company’s output depends on face-to-face interaction between the two sides, manufacturing and innovative activities should be located in close geographical proximity. Otherwise, innovation is likely to decline. This is often the case for US firms: subsidiaries operating farther away from their parent company tend to undertake less patenting.

If, however, managers facilitate and direct the flow of information across these two groups of workers, the geographic co-location of the two activities may matter less. This would sustain innovation in advanced economies, even if manufacturing is happening on the other side of the globe.

My research examining the migration of manufacturing jobs to Eastern Europe after the fall of communism reinforces this reading. In the 1990s, Eastern European countries had low per capita income, but were rich in skills, particularly in engineering. That made them ideal environments for low-cost innovation.

This appealed, in particular, to Germany and Austria – both of which were far wealthier, located nearby, and facing acute skills shortages. So, in the ensuing years, German and Austrian firms moved not only manufacturing jobs, but also activities that required specialized skills and important research, to Eastern Europe.

From 1990 to 2001, Austrian subsidiaries in Eastern Europe employed five times as many people with academic degrees, as a percentage of staff, as their parent firms did. They also had 25% more research personnel working in their labs. Likewise, German affiliates in Eastern Europe employed three times as many workers with academic degrees, and 11% more researchers, as their parent firms did.

But there was a major difference between German and Austrian multinationals. German multinationals transferred the firm’s organizational structure to the subsidiaries in Eastern Europe, and sent German managers to run things. This ensured that knowledge created in the Eastern European research labs flowed back to the parent company, which thus had more control over innovation.

By contrast, Austrian multinationals – themselves mostly subsidiaries of foreign firms – adapted their Eastern European subsidiaries’ organizational structure to the local environment, and hired more local managers. As a result, their subsidiaries were more autonomous in their innovation decisions. No mechanism was put in place to guarantee that the knowledge created in the subsidiary also benefited the parent company.

Over the last decade, Germany has generally thrived economically, while Austria has  from low growth rates and high unemployment. Austria’s struggles may well have their origins in the reverse pattern of specialization in innovation with Eastern Europe. Austria’s skill endowment, as measured by the share of the work force with a university degree, was 0.07 in 1998, compared to 0.14 for Central European countries.

But manufacturing and innovation still complement each other. And, as the very different experiences of Austria and Germany show, offshoring manufacturing alone does not necessarily undermine innovation. If parent companies implement mechanisms for acquiring the knowledge created in their affiliate firms, they can seize the benefits of globalization – including offshoring – without losing out on innovation.

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Global – Dynamic Antitrust Discussion Series: “Dynamic Competition” (Ioana Marinescu, David Teece, John M. Yun, Aurelien Portuese, ITIF)

Market competition is frequently perceived from a static perspective by antitrust enforcers. The reduction of the number of firms, the degradation of the market structure, and the increase in the size of some companies are causes for antitrust concerns, and subsequently, for antitrust interventions. How relevant the model of “perfect competition” is for antitrust enforcers? What would a dynamic perspective of antitrust entail about the relationship between innovation and competition? If competition is a source of innovation, innovation is often a source of competition. This causal relationship is often overlooked. What would an innovation-based antitrust suggest for today’s antitrust debates? 

Dynamic Antitrust Discussion Series: “Dynamic Competition” | ITIF

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These 3 start-ups are bringing cutting-edge tech to forest restoration (WEF)

The world loses about 15 billion trees a year.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/04/reforestation-start-ups-technology-trillion-trees/

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Optical links to connect air passengers securely (ESA)

Flight passengers will be able to connect securely to their families and colleagues on Earth via sophisticated laser systems.

https://www.esa.int/Applications/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications/Optical_links_to_connect_air_passengers_securely

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(Innovation/Technology) Building a National AI Strategy (WEF)

Speakers: Jennifer Schenker, Özgür Burak Akkol, Mikayil Jabbarov, Alexander Vedyakhin, Mustafa Varank

Dozens of governments are planning or have already released artificial intelligence strategies as part of their national growth programmes. How can countries realize the growth potential of AI while mitigating societal risks?

https://www.weforum.org/events/global-technology-governance-summit-2021/sessions/the-promise-and-pitfalls-of-national-ai-strategies

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(Innovation/Technology) Shaping the Future of Artificial Intelligence (WEF)

Speakers: Irene Tham, Vilas Dhar, Mark Brayan, Haniyeh Mahmoudian, Jason Matheny, Kay Firth-Butterfield, Fayaz King

As rapid advances in machine learning increase the scope and scale of AI’s deployment in all aspects of daily life, and as the technology can learn and change on its own, what protocols, policies and partnerships are needed to optimize accountability, transparency, privacy and impartiality?

https://www.weforum.org/events/global-technology-governance-summit-2021/sessions/shaping-the-future-of-artificial-intelligence

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(Innovation/Technology) The Next Frontier: Synthetic Biology (WEF)

Speakers: Mariette DiChristina, Genya Dana, Megan Palmer, Margaret A. Hamburg, Matthew Chang, Jason Kelly

Synthetic biology, the (re)design of organisms, is a frontier technology with applications in manufacturing, healthcare, energy, information and environmental remediation, among other areas. How can we responsibly realize the transformative potential of synthetic biology?

https://www.weforum.org/events/global-technology-governance-summit-2021/sessions/pushing-humanity-s-horizons-moonshots-in-synthetic-biology

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