World Economic Forum urges digital entrepreneurship

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) is pushing technology entrepreneurship, saying it has potential to transform industries, solve global challenges and create exponential economic impact.

The global forum, which advocates reshaping of global and industry agendas, says barriers of entry to participate in technology entrepreneurship are decreasing constantly, presenting real opportunities.

WEF, which is hosting the African edition of its meetings in Cape Town, critiqued digital opportunities and challenges in the fourth industrial revolution era, as well as providing solutions that may have impact.

It also believes data can be the bedrock on which digital entrepreneurship is built.

“Were governments and large businesses to make data available, the costs involved in building a start-up, and hence its need for funding, would be reduced.”

WEF uses examples of large platform companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, which it says “derive their competitive advantage from data, but smaller players often struggle to access the data that would fuel their growth”.

The discussion, in a ‘community paper’ titled “Digitising Entrepreneurship for Impact”, urges start-ups to discover innovative solutions in areas such as climate change, food supply and clean energy, and for that to happen it says access to data must be opened up.

“For example, interoperable data on energy demand across different countries could help start-ups devise new ideas in energy supply. While the technologies these start-ups can build on, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things and robotics, are increasingly accessible, data to understand the nature of problems is not,” says WEF.

Additionally, it says “digitising entrepreneurship for impact” means the opportunity for all entrepreneurs, no matter where they are located, to contribute to solving global challenges.

Arguing its position, WEF says: “Whereas the gravitational pull of national and regional innovation hubs cannot be denied, the entrepreneurial spirit can awaken anywhere that a true challenge and creative idea collide, no longer limited by physical constraints.”

Further, it notes: “Entrepreneurs cannot thrive in isolation: they need a functioning ecosystem that offers access to capital, talent, networks and other resources.”

WEF wants more people to create start-ups and views technology as the enabler.

“As individuals with passion and purpose choose entrepreneurship as their instrument of change in sectors as diverse as education, healthcare, renewable energy, agriculture and art, technology entrepreneurship increasingly serves the public interest.”

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