Posted by: Nicholas Davis | May 6, 2014

Fostering Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship in Europe

The Europe team and I here at the Forum have been spending a lot of time recently musing on the link between entrepreneurship and innovation. Some of these musings are reflected in a recent report I co-authored (soon to be updated for a launch in June) looks at what we term “innovation-driven entrepreneurship“, and I thought you might be interested in a quick overview.

Our research indicates that growth in jobs and economic activity is correlated with young, fast-growing companies that bring something new to markets – through process, product or business-model innovation. However, despite having some of the most innovative economies in the world, Europe as a whole suffers in terms of the conditions for innovation and entrepreneurship, including measures such as technology adoption, commercialization of ideas and the number of young, highly successful firms.

Unfortunately, encouraging such ventures is difficult from a policy perspective, as what we are talking about is a complex lifecycle of teams of individuals interacting with different organisational forms, markets and regulation in order to bring an idea to life at a large scale. However, following a year of collaborating with the best and brightest in this area (including EC VP Neelie Kroes, Finnish PM Katainen, Estonian President Ilves, innovation guru Clayton Christensen, Europe’s top entrepreneurs, a wide array of leading CEOs and many, many others), we’ve come out with three interesting ways of helping European policymakers create helpful conditions for scale-ready entrepreneurs.

Read More…

Posted by: Nicholas Davis | October 4, 2013

Czech competitiveness – challenges and opportunities


Last week I was in Prague, giving a speech on the competitiveness of the Czech economy to the Office of the Government and stakeholders of the National Reform Programme. The Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, released last month, says the following:

The Czech Republic falls by seven places this
year to 46th position. Concerns remain about the quality
of the country’s public institutions, Read More…

Posted by: Nicholas Davis | July 13, 2013

Reflections on the Tour du Mont Blanc


My mother and I just finished the awesome, 180km high-mountain walk that is the Tour du Mont Blanc over 10 days. It was something that we’d been discussing for a while, combining Mum’s love for long-distance walks with my obsession with the Alps. We learned a lot from the experience, and thought that it would be worthwhile sharing some reflections here for others planning to do the Tour du Mont Blanc in the future. Read More…

Posted by: Nicholas Davis | April 11, 2013

This sounds dangerous

The juxtaposition of these two articles on the front page of concerns me:

Pentagon Says Nuclear Missile Is in Grasp for North Korea

U.S. Designs a Korea Response Proportional to the Provocation

A “proportional” response that involves hitting North Korean targets sounds like exactly the kind of thing that would stir up the hornet’s nest, taking things up a notch. And the hornets are likely to have nuclear missiles? Awesome.

Posted by: Nicholas Davis | April 8, 2013

North Korean Escalation

I’m still fascinated and concerned by the rising tension on the Korean peninsula. The question I keep asking of late is along the lines “what is the circuit breaker?”. Because it is not clear that this cycle of hostility and aggression between DPRK and the rest of the world has a natural or built-in resolution. This implies that the chances of a misstep from either side that could lead to irretrievable consequences are higher than previously.

Let me try to put that another way. North Korea has a long history of provocation – including shooting down US military planes (on Kim Il-sung’s birthday), killing US soldiers, many attempts to assassinate South Korean Presidents, and of course the recent military shelling of Yeonpyeong. Throughout these acts, North Korean leaders have acted with extreme confidence, even in directly challenging the world undeniable military superpower. At each stage, the response from the US and the South has been not to react militarily, but instead to bolster US-South Korean defensive capabilities through exercises and assets.

Will this simply be another cycle of aggression then appeasement? Koreans that I speak to argue yes, that it is a matter of Kim Jong-Un asserting power both internally and externally, and that the current rhetoric is a calculated, logical gambit with an ultimate goal of  attention, dialogue that gives Kim good photo ops and makes the West look weak, and possibly some much-needed source of aid or other resources.

However what worries me is four conditions:

1. An unstable internal situation in North Korea. Kim Jong-Un is the new, “Great Successor” in the Kim regime, relatively worldly himself given his schooling in Switzerland, yet surrounded by a generation of military leaders who have been incredibly isolated themselves and who see the cold war as the glory days of North Korean power. Given the role that the Kim cults of personality have played in reassuring the population that their sacrifices on behalf of the country are not in vain, it is reasonable to think Kim wants to prove himself to his people. To what lengths will the regime go to demonstrate power externally, and consolidate it internally around Kim Jong-Un, and how “logical” will or can they be in calculating the response? Given Kim Jong-il’s reputation as the leader who made the country a nuclear power, in what ways will the son look for a way to militarily distinguish himself?

2. A nuclear, missile-capable DPRK. The stakes are much higher today than they previously were, both in terms of the threat and the consequences of action. At what stage will the US and South Korea, perhaps with China’s tacit consent, decide to attempt a pre-emptive knock-out of DPRK’s missile and nuclear facilities? It’s been done before here, and here. And what would DPRK military officials do if they thought this was even a significant possibility?

3. Fragile North Korea-China relations. One of North Korea’s sources of strength has been its ability to rely on its traditional allies to the North – Russia and China – both diplomatically and for resources. However it is unclear how close Kim Jong-Un and the Chinese leadership are, and the recent references by President Xi Jinping indicate that China is increasingly concerned by DPRK’s words and actions.

As always, I hope (and I think it’s likely) that my concerns are unjustified. But with new relationships like this, the possibility for missteps are higher than normal. And a misstep with a nuclear power, particularly a remarkably confident one which looks back longingly to the cold war as the period where the country was most stable and prosperous, could have disastrous consequences.

Let’s hope that instead the relationship is more aptly regarded as Jon Stewart satirized on the Daily Show recently – an amusing “rebound war” sideshow that is temporarily concerning, but ultimately nothing that anyone has to worry about.

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