Geographies in Depth

From start-up to scale: This is how governments can accelerate innovation and build inclusive economies

People walk through the financial district of Canary Wharf, London, Britain 28 September 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde - RC149B77DBE0

The Forum’s paper highlights three government-led initiatives providing advice and funding to innovators. Image: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Charlotte Edmond
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Innovation

Innovation is at the heart of economic growth and job creation. It can transform productivity and efficiency and address many of the world’s longstanding and emerging challenges, such as climate change, health, education and social inclusiveness.

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Governments are trying to balance supporting entrepreneurship with ensuring people aren’t left behind. Alongside this, globalization and rapid technological advances have disrupted innovation pathways and hastened the pace of change.

Productivity growth is driven by adding new and higher value-added products and services and greater efficiency.
Image: World Economic Forum, Policy Pathways for the New Economy

All too often, promising new prototypes and products never make it to scale because of a lack of information, contacts and capital, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum: Policy Pathways for the New Economy--Shaping Economic Policy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

But some governments are developing new ways to identify and accelerate the scale-up of breakthrough innovation.The Forum’s white paper highlights three government-led initiatives that are helping innovators to thrive.

The European Innovation Council

The European Innovation Council has been given the task of turning Europe’s scientific discoveries into businesses that can scale up at speed. It focuses on providing financial and mentoring support to two types of innovators.

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Technologists and researchers can apply to its Pathfinder programme, which gives funding to support radically new technologies created through collaborative research. It helps products progress to the stage of commercialization, while also providing coaching and mentoring programmes.

Start-ups, entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can use its Accelerator programme, which provides financial support to assist the development and scaling up of high-risk innovations.

The EIC is currently in pilot phase, and is set to become a reality in 2021. The European Commission has proposed €10 billion ($11 billion) of support to the initiative under the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

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Tech Nation UK Upscale

The United Kingdom’s Upscale programme, launched by innovation support network Tech City UK in 2016, aims to support the next generation of digital businesses in the UK looking to scale up. In 2017, Tech City and Tech North expanded to become Tech Nation.

The programme gives businesses the chance to receive coaching from experts who have been instrumental in the growth of some of the world’s most successful digital companies. They will receive over 60 hours of advice over six months.

It is a free service, and companies don’t have to hand over any equity to take part. Businesses must be growing at around 20% a month and be venture capital-backed.

It is particularly targeted at businesses aiming to employ more staff, increase their customer base or market share, or expand nationally or globally.

Image: Statista

Dubai Smart City Accelerator

Dubai’s innovation accelerator is particularly focused on supporting the development of smart cities, and as such targets companies working on issues including the Internet of Things and connectivity, urban automation and mobility, artificial intelligence, blockchain, open city data, sustainable cities and living, smart government and smart retail.

It offers an intensive three-month programme to 10 companies, with hands-on mentorship from more than 100 industry experts. Companies also have access to office space in Dubai, seed funding and access to a global network of investors and corporate partners.

It is a collaboration between Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Smart Dubai, Visa, Orange Business Services, and Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai, which fund the venture and provide the network and exposure to industry professionals.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Geographies in DepthBusinessSocial Innovation
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