I am most grateful to Soumitra Dutta and Bill Stirling for having taken the time out last week to give excellent key note speeches at the 6th ICISTM Conference that was held at my school. The conference’s key theme was how the entrepreneurial use of technology can help us out of the current economic crisis.
Bill Stirling gave an excellent speech on the GIANT Innovation Campus project. This is a 1.2 billion euro project that has brought together 8 higher education research centers in Grenoble. Soumitra Dutta’s speech centered more around how entrepreneurship is being cultivated in different parts of the world. I have set down the main outline of this fascinating talk below.
Soumitra Dutta’s keynote address to the 6th ICISTM Conference at Grenoble EM.
“Countries are subject to branding like any other product”
France has a brand image for luxury products and technology, but not for entrepreneurship.
India’s brand image
The brand of India has changed over the past 20 years. India skipped the technology generation. Indira Gandhi nationalized everything and the entrepreneurs left the country and went elsewhere. In the early 1990s the country went bankrupt and was forced by the IMF to shift its gold to London. There was a need for new sectors but the industrial sector was a disaster. Since the government didn’t understand the high tech sector, they were given freedom to work. This wasn’t enough and so they reinvented the model which is known today as the Global Delivery Model. However, they still needed to be sold to the USA in business innovation. It was sold on the following basis ” You work until 6pm and then go to bed and we will work while you sleep.” What has changed in India is not the infrastructure but the mindset, much of which is not visible to the visitor.
The belief now is “If we can succeed globally in one sector, then we can do this in other sectors as well.”
When Soumitra studied at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, 45 of the 50 students would go abroad. In the same university today, only 3 or 4 would do so. Before, the 3 career paths were Bollywood, cricket or scientist. Today there is a 4th career path: becoming an entrepreneur. Innovation happens either in desperation or in inspiration; It used to be desperation in India, now it is the latter.
Singapore has 2 casinos and their total revenue is 1.5 times that of all Las Vegas casinos. This is due to the entrepreneurial spirit of the people and has happened in just short period of time. It only takes 1 week to start a new company and hire people, but even this is too long for Singaporeans. The country is also very active in the education market, aggressively targeting Indian students who dont get into IIM or IIT. In thirty years, the tiny country has created a world class higher education system. Government ministers are paid 1.5 million dollars because they want the best people and must compete with demand from the private sector.
Singapore has developed a reputation for taking the ‘best of the west’ and making it work even better. For example, the system is so efficient that it takes only 45 minutes from exiting the plane to arriving at your hotel. Everything is easy and works smoothly. They have a talent strategy as well. Visiting professors get letters from the government asking them to take citizenship. Talent strategy in other countries by comparison are very inefficient.
Singapore ranked number 2 in competitiveness in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. They have a dedicated focus on talent retention and trying to do things things that make people feel at home. For example, in Japan you never feel at home.
Entrepreneurship in Span
Spain’s economy was booming until the crisis, now it is branded with the PIGS. School teachers salaries have been cut by twenty percent. This is a financial and morale hit. However, Barcelona is now marketing itself as a major port to become the gateway for products from China.
The ISDI private initiative to transfer the economy of Spain is a beacon of hope for the nation. Because there are too few digital experts, they have created a masters program in digital entrepreneurship with an innovative curricula in which the heads of technology companies are themselves teaching. After 3 years experience, many people are starting new companies. The profit from the school is being used to incubate small companies as well as programs in Madrid and Barcelona. Graduation ceremonies are held in other cities to increase the excitement surrounding the initiative. Technology can give hope to people, especially where there is 45 percent unemployment.
Europe and the way forward
Europe has got great talent and it is good at inventing, but not at innovating. There needs to be a concentrated effort to try to make life easier for entrepreneurs. Success is based on people, markets and capital (money + advice etc.) and European governments need to make it easier to have access to these three resources. Most countries struggle to combine the three and Europe is too fragmented to solve this problem successfully. At least up until now. Poverty is not just a lack of access to resources but also a situation where you lack hope that your life tomorrow will be better than today.
I wish Soumitra Dutta the best of luck in his new position as Dean of Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.
David Yerle Writes: “Recent developments in the Google Glass project have hit the news, together with a new batch of “wearable devices” that promise to make technology even more ubiquitous and integrated with our bodies. Examples are the new Sony Smartwatch, which connects to your phone, or Nike’s fuelband, which monitors your vital constant while you exercise.”
International Affairs in Higher Education