Recap: Global Innovation Summit 2018

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

From September 18th to the 20th, the 2018 Global Innovation Summit was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Co-hosted by the GFCC and EXCELENCIA, the event brought together leaders and thinkers representing businesses, academia and governments from across the globe to analyze the challenges and opportunities presented by technology transformation.

The event was opened in an official ceremony, held by His Excellency Dante Sica, Minister of Production, and His Excellency Sergio Bergman, Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development, both leaders and public servants in Argentina. The topic laid out in their opening speeches, with a particular focus on business, academia and government strategies to scale-up innovative and sustainable businesses and global competitiveness, set the framework for the discussions of the Global Innovation Summit.

On the first day of the conference, the GFCC Principles and Best Practices were launched. These annual publications aim at the international exchange of strategies in competitiveness across sectors – from business to policy and academia – and provide an action plan that is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Nations at all stages of development, and businesses of all sizes and across industries seek to leverage the fast flow of new technologies to improve their economic and competitive performance. As digital technologies open widespread access to the world’s businesses, supply chains, markets and jobs, developing and emerging countries have an unprecedented opportunity to scale-up their innovative businesses globally, shatter the economic development curve and catch-up with the advanced economies. The first panel kick-started the mission acknowledging the transformative power of new technologies as an opportunity to scale-up innovative and sustainable businesses. GFCC President the Honorable Deborah L. Wince-Smith and its Chairman Mr. Charles O. Holliday Jr. along with distinguished leaders Dylan Jones, Deputy Minister at the Western Economic Diversification part of the Government of Canada, Dr. Eiman Al-Mutairi, Advisor to Minister of Commerce and Investment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Dr.George Handjinicolau, Chairman of the Board of Piraeus Bank discussed how modern technologies can be used to successfully transform economies, build future industries and Scale-up Sustainable and Innovative Businesses.

This necessity for structured development became a point of focus on the second panel that discussed how to Accelerate Sustainable Transformation in Food Value Chains. Advanced technologies will make agriculture, food production and consumption more economical and sustainable. Making use of this technology transformation and accelerating sustainable food production across value chains is crucial as we are approaching a 9 to 10 billion world population, specified Dr. Suresh Garimella, Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships at the Purdue University, in the discussion moderated by Mr. Santiago Murtagh, President of EXCELENCIA with panelists Mr. Juan Garibaldi, Regional Vice President Waters Latin America at Danone , Dr. Suresh Garimella, Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships at Purdue University, Mr. Adolfo Rouillon President of Congelados del Sur and Mr. Paul Levins Chief Strategy Officer, Xinova

As research and technology in robotics and AI is advancing, their use will penetrate more and more sectors, and will likely become indispensable in areas such as the medical field. The panel moderated by Prof.Isabel Capeloa Gil, Rector at the Catholic University of Portugal and President of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, addressed questions like how we can simultaneously improve Health Systems and Leverage Innovation Opportunities, and included distinguished panelists Dr.Damián Refojo, Director at Biomedicine Research Institute-CONICET-Max Planck, Dr.Ted Zoller, Director for the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Charles Kiefel, OAM, Co-Chair of the Australian Advisory Board on Technology and Health Competitiveness, Dr.Matthew Johnson, Partnership Manager at King’s College London and Javier Viqueira, President of ADOX S.A.

Distinguished GFCC Fellow, the Honorable Jerry M. Hultin moderated the fourth panel of the morning, which addressed strategies for Designing and Deploying Future Sustainable Infrastructures, with perspectives from Malaysia, Ecuador, Argentina, Germany and the US. The panelists were Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter, Chairman of Horasis, Mr. Álvaro Maldonado, Secretary of Productive Development and Competitiveness at the Metropolitan District of Quito, Ecuador, Dr. Rogerio Studart, former Executive Director at the World Bank, Mr. Zakwan Zabidi, Senior Vice-President of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High-Technology, Eng. Hemilse Debrouvier, General Director of Digital Government and Sensorization at Buenos Aires City Government – Undersecretary of Smart City. As cities attract more and more people and urbanization keeps increasing, designing and transforming cities into smart and sustainable metropolitan centers is crucial for the future.

The events of the first day culminated in the Gala Dinner and a cultural performance organized by the Argentinian host EXCELENCIA. At the Dinner, the GFCC also celebrated the Global Competitiveness Award Ceremony. The 2018 Award was presented to Santiago Murtagh, President of EXCELENCIA and CEO Culligan Water Argentina for his work, which focused on water and its link to food and energy production, which will need to be addressed as Argentina’s population grows and innovation increases.  Santiago has further been involved in the transformation of the work process, with a focus on ensuring that people are not forgotten in an environment where technology may adapt faster than they do. To find out more about the awardee and the ceremony, click here.

Day 2 kick-started with a discussion on building the Future of Manufacturing, Consumption and Services. As the rising consumption is met with the digital transformation of manufacturing and services, the demand for new solutions is unprecedented. New opportunities for business and communities benefiting from these business agglomerations arise that will allow for fundamental scale-up and new business models. Moderated by Ramiro Albrieu, Industry 4.0 group Coordinator at Union Industrial Argentina and Economist and Main Researcher at the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equity and Growth (CIPPEC), this discussion included panelists Dr. Michiharu Nakamura, Former President’s Counsellor for the Japan Science and Technology Agency, Dr.Jorge Guimarães, CEO of the Brazilian Agency for Industrial Research and Innovation (EMBRAPII), Paula Altavilla, the Latin America South Region Director of Whirlpool and Javier Pastorino, CEO of Siemens Argentina-Uruguay and of Power & Gas.

This transformation sets new demands not only for business and policy solutions, but also for the Talent and Qualification Profiles of the workforce. How will the workforce be prepared for new technologies and production techniques? How can education be kept flexible enough to accommodate the ever-changing demands? These questions were raised and discussed in a panel moderated by Prof. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Executive Vice President of Knowledge Enterprise and Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Arizona State University, with distinguished speakers from different backgrounds and national experiences: Bader Shaikhan Al Abdali, Acting Director of the National Competitiveness Office of Oman, Adham Nadim, CEO of Nadim Industries, Dr. Guillermo Jaim Etcheverry, President of the Argentinean National Academy of Education and Prof. Peter Smith, Pro Vice Chancellor International at the University of Southampton.

With rising consumption, the use of Natural Resources and Energy becomes increasingly important. The panel moderated by Chad Evans, Executive Vice President at the Council on Competitiveness, with panelists Bill Bohnett, President of Whitecap Investments LLC, Dr. Elena Morettini, Geoscience Advisor at B20-YPF Office, Dr. Ernesto Calvo, Scientific Researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Prof. James Metson, Vice-President for Research at the University of Auckland and Ir. Dr. Aidid Chee Tahir, Chief Strategy Officer at the Universiti Teknologi Petronas, provided tremendous insight into national realities and solutions for the future.

Explosive growth in technology and innovation occurs unevenly globally – regions experience the disruptive effects of modern development in unique ways depending on local natural resource endowment, human capital, as well as institutional and social factors. Emerging fields of growth and entrepreneurship are often rooted in particular geographies, with biotechnology, for instance, being dependent on specific ecological contexts, creating New Innovation Geographies. The panel moderated by Dr. Roberto Alvarez, GFCC’s Executive Director, with panelists Dr. Saif Al-Hiddabi, Assistant Secretary General for Research & Scientific Programs at The Research Council, Oman, Tania Bizoumi, ROOTS Program Leader at Athens Exchange Group (ATHEX), John Chisholm, CEO of John Chisholm Ventures, Edward Halliday, Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London, and Dr. Nkem Khumbah, Chair at the Africa Development Futures Group addressed the role of governments and business for the promotion of growth, taking into consideration local business and policy landscapes and innovation.

Day 2 culminated in a panel addressing the Business, Finance and Education Agendas to . The panel moderated by the Honorable Deborah L. Wince-Smith, GFCC President, addressed questions such as how are stakeholders preparing for new agendas to incorporate the widespread of digital technologies? Leaders from Argentina, Brazil and Japan, countries pertaining in the G20, presented what their innovation agendas were about: H.E. Jorge Aguado, Secretary of Planning and Policy of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation in Argentina, Mr. Javier Ibañez, President at the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI), Ms. Heloisa Menezes, Technical Director at the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) and Dr. Michiharu Nakamura, Former President’s Counsellor of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

The afternoon program on both days included several Breakout Sessions that went into further detail of the morning panel topics and allowed participants of the event to engage in a more intimate way with speakers in a workshop environment. Breakout Session topics included Food, FinTech, Education and Health (afternoon of Day 1) and Urban Solutions, Environment, Manufacturing 4.0 and Energy (afternoon of Day 2) and were held in parallel with panels that were organized by Summit host EXCELENCIA and addressed new innovation solutions targeted specifically at Argentina and South America as a whole.

Overall, the event brought together around 600 participants from more than 25 countries, leaders from various sectors and industries. We extend our particular gratitude to our host EXCELENCIA and the GFCC member community. To see pictures of the event, please click here.

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