As Paul Saffo, a senior fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center and noted futurist, said, we have moved on from a consumer economy to a creative economy where makers and doers produce high economic and societal value with original ideas. Three-dimensional printing, do-it-yourself biology, and crowd-sourced ventures are just a few examples of this transformative shift.
Governments that embrace these approaches towards individual empowerment will have everything to gain going forward – investing in education, fostering innovation, and supporting entrepreneurs today are means to build a country of citizens capable of competing in the globalized marketplace of the future. Places like Singapore, Boston, Bangalore, Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley, and others have become leaders in the application of technologies for entrepreneurship. Many have tried to replicate these tech and innovation incubation systems, and although there is no perfect formula for their success, further examination of the conditions that have facilitated their development and sustainability is critical to determining whether these lessons can be applied elsewhere across the globe, particularly in the Gulf.
As Gulf countries attempt to diversify their economies, there is a growing space for further development of technology and innovation ecosystems. It is within this context that the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security convened a working group on June 24, 2014 to examine successful technology incubators across the globe and discuss the opportunities and challenges for further expansion of these incubators in the Gulf.
The working group included presentations by a number of experts on technology ecosystems, entrepreneurship and startup companies in the Gulf. The panelists and participants discussed business, educational, and governmental best practices in fostering domestic technology industries through several case studies and how these lessons can and have been applied in the Gulf. Participants and speakers also debated and discussed cultural and political considerations in adapting systems from other countries.
The June 24 workshop is part of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Middle East Peace and Security Initiative and its focus on Gulf security and the future of transatlantic engagement in that vital region. The workshop will inform a range of Atlantic Council products this year, including an issue brief by Mathew Burrows, Director of the Strategic Foresight Initiative at the Scowcroft Center, to be rolled out in August.