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Education, Talent and Experimental Mindsets to Fuel ‘Innovation Nations’ of Tomorrow

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An analysis of Fortune 500 companies over the past decade says it all – the companies that failed to adapt to perpetual change and disruption were the ones left behind.

“I would argue that the most successful companies in the world are those that are investing the most in innovation,” observed Betsy Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer, 1871, USA. “There is lots of evidence to suggest that companies should be investing more and working more quickly, embracing the rate of change and level of ambiguity and complexity that we are all experiencing.”

Addressing business and political leaders at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, Ziegler explained that of the companies on the Fortune 500 list, half of them have turned over since 2000, while the average duration on the list is 15 years – versus 60 years just a decade ago.

The meeting, which carries the theme “Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, has generated buzz and speculation about the essential elements required for creating the innovative societies of the future. The consensus is that adaptive education, investment in R&D and nurturing talent pools of up-and-coming entrepreneurs are among the essential elements.

“At least 26 universities across China have established AI institutes to train AI talent and this is necessary, but far from enough,” noted Gong Ke, Executive President, Nankai University, People’s Republic of China. China’s vision of creating its own version of Silicon Valley through its Bay Area plan, an initiative that spans from tech hubs on mainland China to Hong Kong and Macao, he argued, will only be achieved with more investment in education.

Preparing for the future we will inherit, one where millions of jobs will be disrupted by new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and cashier-less retail outlets, will require significant shifts in the education and research space, agreed Ziegler. “Education is farthest behind…Classrooms look exactly like they did 100 years ago.”

Among the transformations taking place, envision leaders in China, will be an evolving geo-innovation landscape. “If you want to create an app you can do it from any city,” remarked Chen Zhang, Chief Technology Officer, JD.COM, People’s Republic of China, “In the US they have small tech hubs. China’s Silicon Valley will be in cities such as Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangdong. Other cities are rising because the threshold is getting lower.”

Emphasizing that fostering innovation environments “takes a village” from nurturing talent pools, adapting educational institutes and developing a supporting policy framework, business and academic leaders agreed there has to be room for innovative mind-sets, the space to experiment, and fail, before future gains can be achieved.

“If you are an entrepreneur you measure the success of your day on how many times you have failed before lunch or dinner. You are always trying new things, testing things and you are going to lose more often than you are going to win, until you figure it out,” said Abbosh.

The best companies are always looking to stay ahead of the curve through investing heavily in innovation.

“Look at Amazon for example,” explained Abbosh, “They run 1,000 experiments a year and they have an agreement with their investors that allows them to spend at a certain rate and it is just incredible. It means they are constantly innovating and finding new markets.”

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Energy News

UNIDO and Morocco’s MASEN to strengthen cooperation to deploy renewable energy technologies

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photo: UNIDO

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy of the Kingdom of Morocco (MASEN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop and implement projects deploying advanced renewable energy technologies in Morocco and targeted African countries, with the aim of creating aspirations to support African countries on their path towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

The partnership with MASEN complements UNIDO’s ongoing activities under its flagship ‘Low Carbon Low Emission Clean Energy Programme’ in Africa, which seeks to reduce poverty by promoting industrial growth through renewable sources of energy. It already started in 2017, on the margins of the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), when UNIDO Director General LI Yong, and MASEN President Mustapha Bakkoury launched the Vanadium Flow Battery project to demonstrate smoothing and stabilizing electricity output. An official handover ceremony is planned to take place in Ouarzazate, Morocco, in conjunction with a workshop gathering Moroccan officials and representatives from neighboring countries.

With MASEN’s support, UNIDO proposes to create a platform for the dissemination of renewable energy technologies in targeted countries while developing the local production of some technology components, thus creating grounds for achieving shared prosperity, economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability.

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EU Politics

EU delivers on stronger European Border and Coast Guard to support Member States

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Today, the Council has officially adopted the Commission’s proposal to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will have a standing corps of 10,000 border guards, a stronger mandate on returns and will also be able to cooperate more closely with non-EU countries, including those beyond the EU’s immediate neighbourhood. This will give the Agency the right level of ambition to respond to the challenges facing Europe in managing migration and its external borders.

Welcoming today’s final adoption, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said:

“Today the European Union has achieved an ambitious task of transforming the EU border agency, Frontex, into a fully-fledged European Border and Coast Guard. This Agency will be equipped to offer tangible support to Member States to manage the EU’s external border – wherever and whenever needed.

From less than 300 border guards on the ground in 2014, the European Border and Coast Guard is now deploying around 1,300 officers and will soon have a 10,000-strong standing corps available for deployment. This is a collective achievement, which would not have been possible without strong political support for a common approach.

The European Border and Coast Guard is now stronger than ever. While Member States will remain responsible for the management of external borders, the standing corps will provide unprecedented operational support on the ground. Its officers will be able to assist national border guards in conducting identity and document checks, with border surveillance and return operations.

The Agency will also provide support beyond the EU’s borders. With European Border and Coast Guard officers already deployed in Albania and soon in other Western Balkan countries also, the Agency will be able to cooperate with third countries beyond the EU’s immediate neighbourhood.

We have spared no effort to make sure that Member States have the necessary tools to protect their borders and ensure the security of European citizens.

But our work is not yet done. The Commission will now provide its full support to help the Agency quickly take up its new tasks and ensure the standing corps swiftly reaches its full capacity of 10,000 border guards.”

Next steps

The European Parliament and the Council will now jointly sign the final text. The text will then be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and the European Border and Coast Guard’s reinforced mandate will enter into force 20 days later. The new European Border and Coast Guard standing corps will be ready for deployment from 2021, and will then gradually reach its full capacity of 10,000 border guards.

Background

The European Border and Coast Guard consists of Member States’ authorities responsible for border management and return, and of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. It was established in 2016, building on the existing structures of Frontex, to meet the new challenges and political realities faced by the EU, both as regards migration and internal security. The reliance on voluntary contributions of staff and equipment by Member States has however resulted in persistent gaps affecting the efficiency of the support the European Border and Coast Guard Agency could offer.

In his 2018 State of the Union Address President Juncker announced that the Commission will reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard even further. The objective of this upgrade was to equip the Agency with a standing corps of 10,000 border guards and to provide the agency with its own equipment to allow it to respond to challenges as they arise. The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Commission’s proposal on 28 March 2019. With the last step completed in the Council today, both institutions have now formally adopted the text.

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EU Politics

EU-Singapore agreement to enter into force on 21 November 2019

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EU Member States today endorsed the trade agreement between the EU and Singapore. This means the agreement will enter into force as soon as 21 November.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “This is the European Union’s first bilateral trade agreement with a Southeast Asian country, a building block towards a closer relationship between Europe and one of the most dynamic regions in the world. It crowns the efforts of this Commission to build a network of partners committed to open, fair and rules based trade. Trade has created 5 million new jobs in the EU since I took office in 2014, and now contributes to the employment of 36 million people. This, together with the fact that it accounts for 35% of the EU GDP, shows how critical trade is for Europe’s prosperity.”

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “Our trade agreement with Singapore provides further evidence of our commitment to fair and rules-based trade. The agreement will benefit workers, farmers and companies of all sizes, both here and in Singapore. It also includes strong clauses protecting human and labour rights and the environment. This agreement means that in the last five years we have put in place 16 EU trade deals. This brings the total to 42 trade agreements with 73 partners, accounting for a third of total EU trade. This is the largest such network in the world.”

Singapore is by far the EU’s largest trading partner in the Southeast Asian region, with a total bilateral trade in goods of over €53 billion and another €51 billion of trade in services. Over 10,000 EU companies are established in Singapore and use it as a hub for the whole Pacific region. Singapore is also the number one location for European investment in Asia, with investment between the EU and Singapore growing rapidly in recent years: combined bilateral investment stocks reached €344 billion in 2017.

Under the trade agreement, Singapore will remove all remaining tariffs on EU products. The agreement also provides new opportunities for EU services’ providers, among others in sectors such as telecommunications, environmental services, engineering, computing and maritime transport. It will also make the business environment more predictable. The agreement will also enable legal protection for 138* iconic European food and drink products, known as Geographical Indications. Singapore is already the third largest destination for such European specialty products. Singapore also agreed to remove obstacles to trade besides tariffs in key sectors, for instance by recognising the EU’s safety tests for cars and many electronic appliances or by accepting labels that EU companies use for textiles.

The EU and Singapore have also concluded an investment protection agreement, which can enter into force after it has been ratified by all EU Member States according to their own national procedures.

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