Political and business leaders from over 140 countries descended on the Swiss mountain resort of Davos last week to address the world’s most pressing issues.
Here are ten things we learned from the four-day event, where tickets cost Dhs250,000 (68,000 Swiss francs) for access to limited sessions.
Brexit could boost billion-dollar UK startups
Britain’s decision to leave the EU bloc could lift stiff regulations that strangle the UK’s start-up sector, Joe Schoendorf, a partner at venture capital firm Accel Partners, said.
“With Brexit and Great Britain pulling the EU out of the loop, I think you will be surprised with the momentum with that sector in particular,” Schoendorf told a panel discussion at the summit.
The next big five tech titans will come from the startups of today
Venture capitalist Zachary Bogue, who co-founded venture capital fund Data Collective said the next IT tech giants like Apple and Facebook would begin as startups that master the application of new technology to entrenched industries.
“I think we’ll increasingly see the next five will come from companies applying the technology…applying them to real world deep vertical industries like agriculture, biotech, like digital health, like genomics,” Bogue said.
Blockchain technology will be one of the next Big Disruptors
CEO of BCG Digital Ventures, Jeff Schumacher, said bitcoin’s cryptocurrency database Blockchain, would be one of the most transformative technologies for the finance sector in 2017.
“We’ve got a really big bet on blockchain,” he said, adding “it’s some of the most disruptive technology we’ve seen since electricity.
Men still rule the world
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg banged the drum for gender parity in the tech world, during her speech at Davos.
“Almost every country in the world has less than 5% of its top companies run by women, including the United States and every country in Europe,” she told a session on the future of work.
“That means we’re not using the full talent of the population when it comes to making the decisions that impact our world.”
Elites are out of touch with the real world
World leaders realize that the surge of populism behind Brexit and President Trump’s election is stoked by their inability to efficiently respond to popular discontents.
Anthony Scaramucci, who heads the White House Office of Public Engagement was one of many high-profile speakers to admit being “insulated” from the outside world.
“People in the US and Europe are feeling a common struggle that maybe many of us here in Davos do not feel.”
Philosopher Michael Sandel, who featured on several panels throughout the week said leaders needed to do a better job of listening to people’s grievances.
“There are, embedded in those frustrations, legitimate grievances and aspirations that we have not successfully addressed for quite some time,” he said.
Globalization is under fire
Haunted by rising global inequality, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde and China’s communist President Xi Jinping were among those to defend the “bullet-train” of globalization.
Jinping said the spoils of globalization needed to be shared more equitably:
“It is true that economic globalization has created new problems. But this is no justification to write off economic globalization altogether. Rather we should adapt to and guide globalization, cushion its negative impact, and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations,” he said.
“We should commit ourselves to growing an open global economy,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by a more obvious defender of the world markets, Lagarde: “To turn our back on globalization, to turn our back on helping development is exactly the wrong approach.
World Leaders are tense about Trump
Former US treasury secretary Larry Summers bristled over President-elect Trump’s economic policies which he said will drive a “dagger” into the heart of America’s jobs market and widen the gap between the wealthy and poor.
US-Russia relationship is a top question for EU leaders
Outgoing US Vice-President Joe Biden used his final speech in office to skewer Russian President Vladimir Putin for turning the world into a place where “military might, corruption and criminality” reigns.
“Russia is working with every tool available to them to whittle away at the edges of the European project, test for fault lines among Western nations, and return to a politics defined by spheres of influence,” he said.
“If we don’t fight for our values, no one else will,” Biden said.
Bill Gates launched a billion-dollar coalition to fight epidemics
Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates launched a new task force to cut the time spent finding a vaccination for six infectious viruses including Mers, Lassa, Nipah, Ebola, Marburg and Zika.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) was founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with an initial investment of $460m from the governments of Germany, Japan, and Norway.
In a statement announcing the launch, Gates said: “Ebola and Zika showed that the world is tragically unprepared to detect local outbreaks and respond quickly enough to prevent them from becoming global pandemics.
Alibaba plans to create 1 million jobs for SMEs
Head of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Jack Ma outlined a five-year plan to incorporate one million US small and medium-sized businesses on its websites to sell to Chinese consumers.
Davos was held from Jan 17 – 20, 2017 in eastern Switzerland.