Monday, April 03, 2006

PEIE's World Summit Kicks Off

The World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship kicked off on Saturday 1 April at the Shangri – La Barr Al Jissa Spa & Resort, Muscat, with an Innovation Society Boardroom meeting that was moderated by Tom Stewart, Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Business Review. Suggesting that innovation and entrepreneurship meant more than the invention of new products and services, Stewart set the talks in motion by requesting that each table consider the various barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Following some 40 minutes of deliberations, participants came back with their views on what they considered to be obstacles to the innovative process. Education was a central theme that many of the participants focused on - saying that education on its own was ineffective unless accompanied by opportunity and a climate favourable to the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. One particular theme that came through from the various groups was the need to encourage the region's youth to take initiative, rather than rely on classic, rote learning techniques. Women's education, or lack thereof, was also highlighted.

Picking up the discussion threads produced at the Innovation Society Boardroom meeting, the Summit continued with the World Innovation Theatre: A Town Hall style meeting on the Innovation Society. It was put forward that many developing countries didn’t have the right ‘climate’ to encourage and develop the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Participants also highlighted the absence of innovation in some parts of the world while it flourished in others. A lack of supportive infrastructure, in terms of facilities, finance and attitude were identified as the main reasons for this global disparity.

It was noted that over 50% of today’s youth are keen to start their own businesses, and while in many cases funding was readily available from within the family, an overly bureaucratic infrastructure still prevented them from taking the entrepreneurial leap. Restrictive regulations and time-consuming red-tape were said to be strangling the youth’s desire to start new ventures.

Commenting on the Summit’s first day, Mohammed Al Ghassani, Executive Vice President, PEIE said: “The sessions touched on all the right issues – and I look forward to discussing them with fellow participants over the next few days.”