(No.182) Innovator Roundtable: An Intergenerational Dialog with Internet Entrepreneurs
What does it take to attract investment in infrastructure and encourage innovation and growth of ICT services, including mobile
The triangle of youth, entrepreneurship, and development has emerged as an important topic in Internet governance debate. The aspects of youth and development have been particularly salient on the IGF agenda, but the entrepreneurial aspect has yet to receive its due attention. This workshop will operate under the broad question: What aspects of Internet governance help or hinder an entrepreneur’s (particularly young entrepreneur’s) chance to succeed? The purpose of this workshop is to begin an intergenerational, multistakeholder dialog between those already involved in Internet-related entrepreneurship and those involved in public policy, to discuss the role of internet governance in creating environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship.
It is widely recognized that bottom-up entrepreneurship is one of the most sustainable drivers of socioeconomic development. There is emerging evidence that ICTs and Internet access offer unique opportunities for aspiring socially-responsible entrepreneurs. Much of the success enjoyed by innovative enterprises is a function of the environment in which they work. There are market characteristics such as access to capital and talent as well as regulatory characteristics such as policies governing IP protection, privacy, data security, trade, taxation, and labor. Internet Governance around the world sits at the center of many of these characteristics.
Now, one of the pertaining questions is how to make sure the Internet remains an environment supportive of entrepreneurial innovation and how the Internet should evolve to allow more entrepreneurial activities, particularly in the developing countries and among the youth. The set of relevant issues crosses a number of IGF themes ranging from access to IG4D.
Questions to be considered include:
1. What policies help to facilitate finding funding, new innovations, and entering foreign markets for Internet-focused enterprises?
2. What role do incubators play in entrepreneurial success and what could make them more useful?
3. What are the unique cultural, political, and financial challenges faced by Internet entrepreneurs in developing countries and by young entrepreneurs?
4. What is the ideal environment for Internet-oriented enterprises seeking to do business outside their own country?
5. How do we strike the right balance between consumer protection and business model experimentation? When is the right time to regulate such issues as data privacy and network neutrality?
6. What is the role of IP in raising capital, forming partnerships and seeing returns on investment abroad?
The Innovator Roundtable will feature speakers from academia, non-profits and entrepreneurs themselves from around the world as well as the East African region. The mix of entrepreneurs will include experienced industry players and young individuals working on starting their Internet enterprises. The discussion will take place in a roundtable, rather than panel, format to allow for the free flow of ideas on creating the ideal environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Jonathan Zuck, The Association for Competitive Technology, Brussels, Business
Dimitry Epstein, Cornell University, USA, Academia
Tim Vorley, Cambridge University, UK, Academia
Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, NGO
We are in discussion with other organizers from the region
The innovators roundtable was an interactive multigenerational roundtable discussion about creating an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. Held in the main conference room (2), the session attracted nearly 150 participants, despite changes to the schedule. Well over the session average at the IGF, this level of delegate participation suggests a high interest in hearing from “front lines,” as it were, of innovation. There were 6 entrepreneurs from around the world on the “panel” of this pilot roundtable with many more in the audience. Topics of discussion included: cutting regulatory red tape, legal standardization to facilitate access to broader markets, intellectual property protection, organic versus top-down standardization and environmental policies that lead to greater investment.