Creating the Conditions for City Innovation –The Keys to Regeneration

Oct 24, 2017

Session Description

On the road to building healthy urban communities, some city leaders are embracing different strategies for inclusive urban regeneration. What are the conditions — economic, social, technological, and political — enabling creative cities who seek to support and sustain high-impact innovations? What key ingredients help entrepreneurs and communities to stand up their experiments, scale them and succeed? What are the support systems – whether they be policies, financing, rules and regulations – that truly help innovators, even those who are not seeking permission from government?

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Moderator: Gordon Feller, Co-Founder, Meeting of the Minds

Bas Boorsma, Director, Digitization Lead, Cisco (North Europe)

Candace WiddoesCOO, Plug & Play



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  1. Re-skilling the workforce keeps coming up as the key for our cities to adapt —
    What skills specifically do we need to instill?
    What education level do people need to learn these skills?
    What types of organizations are best suited to deliver?

    • Hi Alexander, I have dedicated a significant part of my book on that topic, Skills is one the 20 building blocks. Almost impossible to summarize in two or three sentences. 1. helping build the community of the future requires skill sets of the future. Articulating a New Digital Deal for our communities starts out with preparing our current and future work forces accordingly. Single skill jobs are losing relevance, mixed skills sets are gaining importance and EQ is what sets us apart from machines. Key skills of relevance include: an understanding of technological developments and data analytics; the social skills and emotional intelligence to thrive in collaborative environments; the ability to merge different skills. It is not math that will get you there, but math combined with social skills. Or technology married with the ability to talk business architectures and business outcomes. Or engineering skills with ethics. Convergence rules; Hybrid media literacy. Social and professional human conduct is facilitated by an ever-larger and ever more hybrid set of media; design thinking and the converged skills set typically involved in this; resilience. The ability to deal with uncertainty, respond swiftly to sudden realities, the ability to act with resilience, is an essential attitude and skill to have.

  2. Huge disconnect between DC and Silicon Valley. How can tech companies bridge this divide beyond just traditional lobbying?

    • Hi Matt – I think its all sides that need to bridge that divide. Digitalization is not on political agendas whereas Tech companies will need to step up in their leadership roles beyond classic lobbying indeed.

    • Lending Club, one of our portfolio companies in the peer-to-peer lending space, started in 2007. In 2010, the government shut them down because they didn’t have banking licenses in all 50 states. After sorting it out, they went on to go public in 2014. Had Lending Club connected with DC earlier, they probably would have never gotten off the ground – those 3 years of development prior to the shut down were crucial to their success. So, the disconnection between SV and DC isn’t so bad.

  3. Beyond cities, how can small suburban towns prepare for the digital future? Some such towns, like Boxborough, MA, hosts a large Cisco facility and the next town hosts IBM’s largest software labs in the US; both communities are very interested and committed to the digital future but don’t have the resources of a large city.

    • Community digitalization are becoming more “As a Service” – meaning many aspects of community digitalization are becoming more accessible for smaller communities. Take Cisco´s Kinetic for Cities – a street automation platform which is essentially cloud based. And that is just one example I happen to be associated with. On he financial side, too, innovations emerge: smart city offerings (think outdoor light retrofit, wireless networks for the community, smart mobility etc) gets offered as a Concession. Have a look at Whitehelm Capital for instance. They have such an offering. Their investors are long term investors, like pension funds – avoiding the Wallstreet players in this space. Hope this helps! Bas


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