‘Dare to Dream’ Creative Solutions Needed to Overcome Seismic Global Production Shifts

Published
27 Jun 2017
2017
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Vivian Yang, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum, Tel.: +86 138 1056 7837; vivian.yang@weforum.org

· As technological shifts in artificial intelligence and robotics are poised to fundamentally alter production processes and render some jobs obsolete, creativity is the key to this fast-changing innovative environment, and is generating new jobs and opportunities

· Huge opportunities exist for business and entrepreneurs in the circular economy, leveraging the “interface of nature” for the increased sustainability of production

· For more information about the meeting, please visit: http://wef.ch/amnc17

Dalian, People’s Republic of China, 27 June 2017 – Creativity, collaboration and a visionary psyche are the keys to overcoming dramatic shifts as the Fourth Industrial Revolution threatens to upend global production, said a panel of experts at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2017, which opened today in Dalian.

At a time when momentous technological innovations are changing the world at rapid speed, transforming production processes and raising big questions about the future of work, entrepreneurs at the three-day meeting said they are optimistic that human capital can triumph.

“Dare to dream, and utilize the global systems that exist,” said Zhang Yao, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RoboTerra, USA. “Innovations are happening exponentially and, with the foreseeable future of artificial intelligence and robotics, humans have to focus on what we are good at, which is creativity. We have a shared belief in creativity.”

Amid concerns about jobs being rendered obsolete, technological innovations, noted Zhang, have also cultured an enabling environment for start-ups. The head of RoboTerra pointed out that since starting her computer robotics company in her garage four years ago, smart prototyping has drastically reduced previously prohibitive costs. In the same way, not all the effects in this fast-changing environment will be visible up front and there will be many new jobs in the future that we can’t even imagine.

Contemplating the dramatic shifts, Vishal Sikka, Chief Executive Officer of Infosys, USA, said long-term solutions are dependent on innovation and creativity and “billions of entrepreneurs”.

“Manufacturing processes are becoming more rapid, experimental and based on design thinking. Production is changing fundamentally what is made and how it is made as a result of the deep adoption of computing; and we are seeing this disruption play out,” noted Sikka, a Co-Chair of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2017. “I don’t see any alternative than to have billions of makers around us. Billions of entrepreneurs.”

In a future shaped by more and more people and fewer resources, industry experts highlighted collaboration and investment in research and development to generate solutions and new business opportunities. “If you want advanced value chains, you need advanced materials,” said Neil C. Hawkins, Chief Sustainability Officer and Corporate Vice-President of Dow Chemical Company, USA.

As a leading material science company at the heart of hundreds of value chains, Dow is investing $2 billion a year in research and focusing on circularity to ensure sustainability. The company is working on a model to reduce the carbon footprint of desalination plants by 30%. “The interface with nature is an area we need to pay more attention to as materials are extracted, made into products and then go back into a waste cycle. We need to make sure we are maximizing nature’s value to people and the environment,” he said.

From the uber-modern city-state of Singapore, a country facing geographic and demographic challenges, the government has turned its attention to how best to support entrepreneurs in the global reshaping.

“For government, our eye has to be on implementation and roll-out because that will determine whether vision can come to fruition,” said Ann Sim, Senior Minister of State for the Ministries of Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry of Singapore.

Ahead of the curve, Singapore has initiated intensive technology mapping support for leading firms, invested heavily in research and innovation, and is supporting retraining and life-long learning programmes. The secret, said Sim, is to foster strong ties between business, entrepreneurs and government.

“What we hear from business, entrepreneurs is that they want to be more in touch with each other, and I think the same goes for the public sector. Only when information, thoughts and ideas are exchanged can you see innovative policies take shape.”

The World Economic Forum’s 11th Annual Meeting of the New Champions is taking place on 27-29 June in Dalian, People’s Republic of China. Convening under the theme Achieving Inclusive Growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, nearly 2,000 business leaders, policy-makers and experts from over 80 countries will explore more than 200 sessions over the three days of the meeting.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.