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Leaders Release Unprecedented Map of Blockchain Standards

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Industry leaders today released the Global Standards Mapping Initiative (GSMI), the first and most comprehensive effort to assess the current state of blockchain. Based on input from over 30 technical standard-setting entities, 185 jurisdictions and nearly 400 industry groups, the reports are accessible to the public and intended to serve as a resource for the blockchain community to develop thoughtful frameworks and standards to propel the industry forward.

The reports, released by the World Economic Forum and the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), map and assess the current blockchain and digital asset landscape across three distinct areas: technical standards; legislation and guidance by sovereign and international bodies; and industry best practices and standards.

Key insights highlighted in the reports include the technology’s fragmentation both worldwide and within jurisdictions, overlaps, gaps and conflicts in standard-setting – and where these activities may be premature – a lack of dynamic guidance for new uses of the technology, the need for proactive strategies from organizations, and the important role regulators will play in shaping the future of the technology. The reports also provide action-oriented guidance for public and private sector stakeholders and include an interactive world map of blockchain legislation and guidance.

The initiative is led by the World Economic Forum and the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), with core collaborators: Accenture; Digital Currency Initiative, MIT Media Lab; ESG Intelligence; Global Digital Finance (GDF); Hyperledger, The Linux Foundation; ING; the Milken Institute; SIX Digital Exchange (SDX); and other global entities. For a full list of partners and collaborators, please see here.

Sheila Warren, Head of Blockchain at the World Economic Forum, said: “There has been a strong demand signal for a catalogue of standards-related activity that could serve as a cornerstone for facilitating responsible deployment and interoperability. We were excited to collaborate with the Global Blockchain Business Council and members of our Blockchain Council to create this open resource that can be used by the ecosystem, policy-makers, and beyond, to inform their approaches to the technology and standards moving forward.”

Sandra Ro, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Blockchain Business Council, said: “GSMI partners and collaborators are a diverse group of stakeholders across industries, governments and academia who represent a range of perspectives and ideologies. Their coming together to lay the foundation towards greater harmonization and clarity surrounding standard-setting exemplifies the unique ethos of the blockchain community rooted in collective progress and collaboration. The Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), is proud to have incubated this initiative alongside the World Economic Forum and looks forward to continued collaboration as the GSMI evolves and develops beyond this initial release. We invite new partners to join us as we build upon this initial body of work, GSMI version 1.0.”

David Treat, GBBC Board Chair and Senior Managing Director and Head of Accenture’s Blockchain Business, said: “The next wave of innovation will be driven by collaborative ecosystems, underpinned by blockchain and multiparty systems. The technology is advancing quickly, but the complexities of the standards, frameworks and policies necessary to align to best practices have risked slowing progress to broad-based adoption. At Accenture, we believe this important initiative offers a significant leap forward as we help our clients to drive business transformation and shape the future with more resilient, transparent and secure infrastructures.”

Mariana Gomez de la Villa, Distributed Ledger Technology Program Director at ING, said:“We all know DLT is a network technology and for it to reach mass scale adoption you need strong synergies where every single participant on the value chain experiences the value. As an ecosystem, we won’t be able to deliver value without developing clear standards. This is why ING decided to contribute to this technical report together with the World Economic Forum.”

Benjamin Nadareski, Global Corporate and Business Development at SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), said: “The digital asset industry has seen exceptional growth in 2020 yet has continued to lack the global standards required to unlock the true value behind this emerging asset class. We are excited to be involved with an effort that unifies academia, industry and regulatory efforts to provide a non-biased foundation for the required standards that companies around the world need for their digital asset businesses. With the first launch of phase one for the GSMI initiative, we are excited to open up the effort to additional global leaders and experts in the digital asset industry.”

Carole Biau, Director for Global Market Development at the Milken Institute, said: “We are proud to have participated in such an important endeavour. GSMI provided an opportunity for two scholars of our IFC-Milken Institute Capital Markets Program to thoroughly research the blockchain and digital asset landscape in a wide range of countries and to learn from varying regulatory perspectives. Going forward, GSMI can be an important addition to the regulatory toolkit for our scholars and alumni as they work to modernize and strengthen capital markets across developing and emerging economies.”

Lawrence Wintermeyer, Executive Co-Chair, Global Digital Finance, said: “The GSMI project was ambitious in its goal of mapping out the global regulatory and association landscape for crypto and digital assets. For the first time, business leaders and policy-makers can now access the (fragmented) landscape of jurisdictional regulatory intelligence and better understand which of the agencies and associations is best positioned to support their needs.”

Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger, said:”The GSMI reports will be key resources for adding critical structure to the fast-evolving blockchain industry. The broad-based effort behind this important mapping project shows the inherently collaborative nature of the blockchain ecosystem. As champions of openness and standards, Hyperledger applauds this important work and we look forward to continuing to contribute to this initiative.”

Sumit Kumar, Co-Founder of ESG Intelligence, said: “The GSMI project is a timely initiative that will help expand the blockchain ecosystem. It will provide an opportunity for organizations that are still watching from the sidelines to assess the regulatory and business landscape and contribute to the ecosystem. We are proud to have joined this important project as it shares our goal of expanding enterprise blockchain adoption.”

As blockchain continues to evolve and scale, clarity on its technical, regulatory and governance models will be paramount in shaping the trajectory and potential of the technology. The GSMI is an ongoing effort that will continue to grow. If you are interested in collaborating, please get in touch.

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APEC BEST Award Announced Top Female Entrepreneurs

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The annual APEC Business Efficiency and Success Target Award, known as the APEC BEST Award, announced its 2020 winners, from a diverse group of effective entrepreneurs, innovators and managers around the APEC region.

Producer of gluten-free, healthy food products, Svetlana Shmakova, from Russia, won the top prize of APEC BEST Award with her company, Foodcode.

“The idea of Foodcode is not only about business, but also about protecting family and ensuring that we put health and well-being of people first, through quality, healthy and sustainably produce products,” Shmakova explained.

“The contest provided us with a unique opportunity to learn more about other business models, connect with fellow entrepreneurs and managers, explore new partnerships and expand our markets,” she added.

Meanwhile, Cherrie De Erit Atilano from the Philippines, founder and chief executive officer of sustainable food system and inclusive agribusiness of her company, AGREA, won the category of Best Top Manager in the post-pandemic economy.

“Inclusive and sustainable agriculture plays an even more critical role in the post-pandemic world,” Atilano said. “This award is a testament to the resiliency and compassion of women in the agricultural supply chain alongside men who persevered in bringing food to the table of both producers and consumers.”

“Women should play a significant role in our concerted efforts to recover and rebuild better as a region,” said Carolina Cuevas, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. “The innovation, creativity and resiliency shown by our women entrepreneurs and managers involved in the APEC BEST Award are the embodiment of this spirit.”

The contest is an initiative of Russia with China, Japan, Malaysia and Mexico as co-sponsors of this year’s contest. This year’s contest featured 20 nominees from 11 APEC economies, competing under the theme of “Women Business Leadership in Post-Pandemic Recovery.”

“All of us live in extremely challenging times now with the lingering negative impact of the economic and health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Natalia Strigunova of Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development. “We believe that women’s entrepreneurship should be a strong driver for post-pandemic recovery.”

Besides the 2020 APEC BEST Award grand prize and the award in the Best Top Managers category, the contest also awarded six winners in the following categories:

  • Best Growth Potential: Lu Yunjuan, Beijing Snowlotus Biotechnology from China
  • International Attractiveness: Winnie Chan Wei Wei, Bynd Artisan from Singapore
  • Best Business Sustainability in Tackling the Pandemic: Norzilawaty Binti Mohd Isa, Lykke Familie Enterprise from Malaysia
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution Project: Hanna Kim, Grip Corporation from Korea
  • Best Family Business Support: Daniela Carolina Schneider Alvear, Celifamily Gluten Free from Chile
  • Best Social Impact: Carys Mihardja, Carys Cares from Indonesia

“The goal of the APEC BEST Award is not only to promote women’s leadership and best practices amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to provide support to female entrepreneurs, replicate the best business models and expand their networks beyond their home economies to encourage more women to establish their own businesses,” added Irina Saltykova, who leads the APEC BEST Award project.

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M&A valuations boom in the second half of 2020, despite COVID-19 impacts on the economy

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M&A valuations are soaring, with rich valuations and intense competition for many digital or technology-based assets driving global deals activity, according to PwC’s latest Global M&A Industry Trends analysis.

Covering the last six months of 2020, the analysis examines global deals activity and incorporates insights from PwC’s deals industry specialists to identify the key trends driving M&A activity, and anticipated investment hotspots in 2021. 

In spite of the uncertainty created by COVID-19, the second half of 2020 saw a surge in M&A activity.

“COVID-19 gave companies a rare glimpse into their future, and many did not like what they saw. An acceleration of digitalisation and transformation of their businesses instantly became a top priority, with M&A the fastest way to make that happen — creating a highly competitive landscape for the right deals,” says Brian Levy, PwC’s Global Deals Industries Leader, Partner, PwC US.

Key insights from the second half of 2020 deals activity include:

  • Dealmaking jumped in the second half of the year with total global deal volumes and values increasing by 18% and 94%, respectively compared to the first half of the year. In addition, both deal volumes and deal values were up compared to the last six months of 2019.
  • The higher deal values in the second half of 2020 were partly due to an increase in megadeals ($5 billion+). Overall, 56 megadeals were announced in the second half of 2020, compared to 27 in the first half of the year.
  • The technology and telecom sub-sectors saw the highest growth in deal volumes and values in the second half of 2020, with technology deal volumes up 34% and values up 118%. Telecom deal volumes were up 15% and values significantly up by almost 300% due to three telecom megadeals.
  • On a regional basis, deal volumes increased by 20% in the Americas, 17% in EMEA and 17% in Asia Pacific between the first and second half of 2020. The Americas saw the biggest growth in deal values of over 200%, primarily due to some significant megadeals in the second half of the year.

COVID-19 accelerates deals activity for digital and technology assets in a highly competitive market

In demand assets have commanded high valuations and fierce competition, driven by macroeconomic factors. These include low interest rates, a desire to acquire innovative, digital or technology-enabled businesses and an abundance of available capital from both corporate (over $7.6 trillion in cash and marketable securities) and private equity buyers ($1.7 trillion).

By comparison, assets in sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic like industrial manufacturing or those being shaped by factors such as the transformation to net zero carbon emissions are creating structural changes that companies will need to address. Where the future viability of their business models are challenged, companies may look to distressed M&A opportunities or restructuring to preserve value.

Deal makers widen assessment of value creation to non-traditional sources

Non-traditional sources of value creation such as the impact of environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) are increasingly being considered by deal makers and factored into strategic decision-making and due diligence, as they focus on protecting and maximising returns from high valuations and fierce demand. 

“With so much capital out there, good businesses are commanding high multiples and achieving them. If this continues – and I believe it will – then the need to double down on value creation is now more relevant than ever for successful M&A,” says Malcolm Lloyd, Global Deals Leader, Partner, PwC Spain.

The impact of a hot IPO market on M&A

The last six months saw the prevalence of the use of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) to pool investor capital for acquisition opportunities in a highly active IPO market. In 2020, SPACs raised about $70 billion in capital and accounted for more than half of all US IPOs. Private equity firms have been key players in the recent SPAC boom, finding them a useful alternative source of capital. More SPAC activity is expected in 2021, especially involving assets such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure, power storage, and healthcare technology.

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ILO and LinkedIn launch data insights partnership

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The International Labour Organization (ILO), the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE)  and LinkedIn have launched a two-year data insights partnership that aims to improve government decision-making, promote green jobs and build the capacities of governments to identify and provide training opportunities.

Through the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the ILO and LinkedIn on 15 January 2021, the partners hope to support the development of deep, cross-sector partnerships that benefit governments, the private sector, employers’ and workers’ organizations and civil society organizations. This partnership also supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  and meeting the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LinkedIn’s real-time view into the global labour market will enable partners to leverage its insights into the skills, jobs and occupations that are quickly rising in demand. For example, LinkedIn’s granular, skills-based understanding of green jobs will also detect emerging trends by analysing occupations whose titles may not identify them in a traditional “green” role but are increasingly reliant upon green skills. Complementary LinkedIn data on hiring trends by gender and region will also provide unique insights into the world of work. 

Thanks to its MoU with the ILO, these data can now help inform policy recommendations as well as further research and analysis, with a particular focus on supporting governments to transition to green economies within the context of PAGE’s work on green jobs as well as helping governments and labour market institutions become more responsive to the needs of workers and employers through the promotion of targeted skills training.

The LinkedIn-ILO partnership also welcomes the strategic collaboration of UNEP  and UNITAR , whose complementary mandates and expertise will help translate rich labour related data insights into informed policies and practical capacity building activities.

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