The Fourth Industrial Revolution – the most recent book by Professor Klaus Schwab, the founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) – was the theme of the WEF annual meeting in Davos from 20-23 January. Major political figures – such as Joe Biden – grappled with what technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things will mean to the way we work and live. And the ‘we’ at Davos was a truly inclusive term, as speaker after speaker emphasized the importance of inclusive, sustainable growth.
For Schwab, the Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to our contemporary era, in which the technological revolution is “more profound than any prior period of human history”. Exploring what the speed and depth of the revolution means to society produced excellent soundbites in the Alps. For instance, Emma Marcegaglia, chairman of Eni, said “we need less regulation and more innovation in Europe” and Marc R. Benioff, CEO and Chairman of Salesforce, quipped that “speed is the new currency of business”.
The WEF focus on innovation follows the rise of innovation as a policy objective and business aim. For public authorities, entrepreneurs and investors its important that innovation is defined, so they know what they are striving for. A recent Harvard Business Review article by Clayton Christensen, Michael Raynor and Rory McDonald narrowly defines ‘disruptive innovation’ as “a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses.”
In the most recent issue of Coller Venture Review we take a different tact as we focus on deep innovation. Professor Yesha Sivan and I define deep innovations as “those that are enabled by basic research or a scientific breakthrough, and that usually require substantial resources and 5–20 years to materialize as a commercial success – if they do at all.” So, unlike Christensen, Raynor and McDonald, we are not interested in process behind producing the next Uber.
The consensus in Davos is that we need more of the innovations that move the needle: innovation in order to solve society’s growth quandary, health challenges and the ills of poverty.
But, how do we do that? Simply saying that we need more innovation does not help entrepreneurs, investors or public authorities act. It creates questions, such as, what are the innovations that are changing the world? And most importantly: how do we promote these transformational innovations?
Coller Venture Review Issue 3 is dedicated exclusively to exploring the methods behind producing the Deep Innovation that underlies the revolution discussed in Davos. Its ten articles explore the challenges and latest models available for propelling deep innovation in sectors ranging from Nanotechnology to Pharma and from Material Science to Water Ventures. The challenges – though unique to each sector – often stem from a ‘Valley of Death’ between academia and industry; effectively, universities are not producing in accordance with what is needed, and industry is not capitalizing on the latest advances coming from universities.
The Nanotechnology article by Professor Yael Hanein examines how a multidisciplinary center – specifically the Tel Aviv University Nano Center – can overcome these challenges by building bridges within universities and across industry. As a result of the better communication across stakeholders, there is greater synergy between academia and industry – meaning that deep innovations in nanotechnology can solve real world problems, and can do so in commercially viable ways.
In his article on Food Ventures, Niccolo Manzoni presents the birth of a group of companies re-inventing the way we think about food through revolutionary innovative technology. He reveals how, by applying learnings from biotechnology and medical science, data and food science, they are working to displace entire categories of food as we know them today. And in doing so, solving the world’s immense demand for high-quality quantities of food.
Dr Dana Bar-On offers insights into the latest initiatives for bringing industry, government and academia together in order to find cures and disease-modifying therapies for Brain disorders and Dr. Yoav Zeif reveals the story of Netafim, a pioneer in Irrigation Technologies that help millions of people around the globe ‘grow more with less’.
These articles offer insights into how innovation can thrive in technical arenas. To learn more about how we – as Public Authorities, Entrepreneurs, Institutional Investors and Venture Capitalists – can facilitate deep innovation – and make good on the promise of the Davos mind-set by implementing the right initiatives and models – please join our community. The CIV community will continue the conversation about what the Fourth Industrial Revolution means, and how we can drive the deep innovation that solves humanity’s biggest problems.