In a recent interview, Jan Vanherck, a well-known Belgian entrepreneur and Dean of the United International Business Schools in Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland, took the opportunity to look into the future.
In 1975, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation and Fairchild Semiconductor, forecast the doubling of computer power every two years. Will this continue and how will it affect the world of the future?
His prediction has proven to be accurate over the past 40 years. It has led to an ever-accelerating progression and miniaturisation in all chip-based technologies, and this evolution has huge consequences for the world of tomorrow. Experts have forecast that computer hardware will match the human brain, in terms of creative design and analytical capabilities, in 15 to 20 years. The interaction between brain science and information technology will create artificial intelligence, a research field crucial to future generations.
Already, this increased computing power is delivering better understanding of the human body, and DNA sequencing is a good example. In 1970, Nobel laureate, Jacques Monod, said: “The molecular size of DNA prohibits, without any doubt, modification of the genome. The sequencing of the human genome is impossible, or, anyway, unreachable in three to five centuries”. How wrong he was! Only six years later, the first genetic manipulation took place and in the first years of this century, the first full sequencing of human DNA was achieved. Just ten years later, the consumer genomics company 23andMe began offering genome sequencing for $999 and soon it will be available for as little as $100. This is the gateway to personalised medicine, particularly for the treatment of all hereditary diseases, and cancer.
Do you see other technologies having a similar effect?
Absolutely! For example, nanotechnology. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. To give you an idea of what a nano size is, the thickness of printer paper is about 100 thousand nanometres. On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometre, then one metre would be the size of the earth.
Nanotechnology will allow us not only to develop medicines that act on the level of our cells and tissues, repairing defects on an inconceivably small scale, but also to build micro engines and micro sensors.
The technology will be widely available in a few years time and will extend our life expectancy dramatically. Neuro-genetic scientist, Laurent Alexandre, in a now famous TED-talk entitled, “Le recul de la mort” (“The retreat of death”), summarised this evolution by saying that he believes that the first person who will live to be 1000 years old has already been born.
What about globalisation and entrepreneurs?
Globalisation is a term that has been politicised so let’s talk about global networks instead. They already exist, facilitated via the Internet and, from the point of view of society, it will make us interact with a lot of people, spread over the world, exchanging ideas, thoughts, and concerns. Political power will shift and emerging countries, such as China and India, will take a dominant role. New players and new markets will emerge. We’ll need to cope with different cultures, each with their own set of values.
Internet technologies, another area for innovators and entrepreneurs, are causing rapid changes in the world with the rise of Big Data. The world is becoming dominated by an all-knowing network. The fact that it gathers an enormous amount of data and, more importantly, has the computing power to actively process it and get information out of it, will force us to rethink a lot of things, privacy, for example, and freedom, family, friendship, love, and honesty.
Intellectual property is another issue. Billions of people thinking, generating ideas, writing papers, books, songs… Inventing new applications, offering new commercial services and products. Can individuals or companies claim the knowledge and decide whether they will use it, or simply put it in the fridge? Should we allow organisations to gather and process our individual data? How will we define ownership and plagiarism? These concepts were developed in the last century by a world where communication was done using handwritten letters, then wired phones and facsimile machines. Are these concepts strong enough to overcome the tsunami of the Internet and Big Data?
What is the role of business education in all this?
We need to make sure that future entrepreneurs can handle the big, unknown challenges. Let me quote Gordon Moore again: “The technology at the leading edge changes so rapidly that you have to keep current after you get out of school. I think probably the most important thing is having good fundamentals.”
Learning does not stop. Only a few decades ago, the teaching of students was considered complete when they graduated. In the best case, people took a few refresher courses during their professional life and that was it. Today, with the vast amount of new knowledge in front of us, learning is a continuous activity. It doesn’t stop today, it simply goes on. It is important to realise that every theory and model we teach is only a statement of current knowledge and is only true in certain circumstances and those circumstances are subject to radical change at ever increasing speed. We need to teach our students – the entrepreneurs of the future – how to think because they are going to have to answer questions we’ve not yet even thought of. We need too re-think ourselves and our environment, and challenge everything.
Entrepreneurs, national EEPA winners, competitions, and more about business in the EU
This month is a busy one as we continue to gear up for SME Week this November. June sees the closure of all national European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitions in time for the European closing date of 1 July. Find out if you still have a chance to enter and win one of the prestigious European awards by searching the deadlines in the article below. Also, meet Kenny, our new Entrepreneur in Residence, and enter or promote our youth essay competition. Read more >>
At Expo Milano 2015, TEDx Binnehof 2016 launched its search for the most inspiring entrepreneurs and world changing ideas. The 2015 SME Assembly, taking place in Luxembourg on 18-20 November, will also be part of this search for ideas worth spreading. During the SME Assembly, entrepreneurs from all 28 EU Member States will pitch their ideas. Ten entrepreneurs will be selected to present their ideas at TEDx Binnenhof 2016 “Made in Europe” in The Hague.
Follow the conversation on Twitter: #TEDxB16 and #MadeInEU
One of the most effective instruments to help create more businesses and jobs is to give students an opportunity to gain practical experiences before leaving school. Educators, business people, entrepreneurs and policy makers are convinced of the impact it has on young people’s self-confidence and their eventual employability and entrepreneurial potential.
The Entrepreneurial School (TES) and the TES guide are part of a large entrepreneurship education initiative in Europe, which now includes participation from 18 countries. The TES guide supports teachers’ professional development in applying entrepreneurial learning in the classroom.
The TES guide includes a database containing more than 125 entrepreneurial tools and methods in nine languages, as well as good practice examples and self-assessment tools. In addition, the guide provides educators with materials to support entrepreneurial learning in any subject area and for any age group.
So far, TES has reached 4,000 teachers in 22 countries.
The TES consortium has also established The Entrepreneurial School Award, a national and European recognition of the best schools in entrepreneurship education.
TES received funding from the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and is supported by Accenture, Clifford Chance, HP, Intel and Virke. The initiative is led by JA-YE Europe in partnership with a consortium of 10 European and national organisations.
The motto of this year’s gathering is “Europe Works For SMEs: Forward. Together.” Following the tremendous success over three years, the 2015 SME Assembly is set to be yet again the most important European event for SME policy. This time more than ever we are inviting you to develop SME policy together and co-create innovative ways of cooperation to ensure effective support for entrepreneurs. To this end we are inviting well-known and new partners from the world of business, academia, policy making and media. We will be honoured by the presence of HRH The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, in particular for an interactive discussion about women entrepreneurship.
For the first time, the SME Assembly 2015 will feature an exceptional session, which may be shaped by interested National Coordinators. Another first, the Netherlands will hold a European edition of the TEDx Binnenhof event in late March 2016.
TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world in the form of short, powerful talks. 10 entrepreneurs with great ideas and innovative solutions for the challenges Europe and the world are facing will present their inspiring thoughts at this special TEDxBinnenhof in the Netherlands. To find these 10 the following process will be starting soon: local TEDx organisers in the Member States in cooperation with SME Envoys will choose their national candidate.
On our side we would also like to encourage the national SME Week Coordinators to assist this process, in as far as it is relevant for you. Should you be interested, please contact: GROW-SME-WEEK-ADMIN@ec.europa.eu
The SME Assembly will also be the focus of the European SME Week; and will host the presentation of the 2015 European Enterprise Promotion Awards. We are also proud to say that we are teaming up with the Start-Up community in Luxembourg who will hold a Start-up weekend right after the formal end of the SME Assembly; for those interested there will a possibility to experience entrepreneurship in action.
I started Datamolino because I wanted small businesses to have the same access to technology as large ones. Datamolino is a platform for accountants, that processes invoices and receipts sent in any format and exports the extracted data into any accounting software thereby saving time and money. The growth potential for our platform is huge with some 16 billion ‘unstructured’ invoices in Europe alone. We benefited hugely from being part of Telefonica’s Wayra acceleration programme that helped us get to market quickly and gave us access to a large customer base.
That ecosystem of entrepreneurs, a skilled workforce and investors are essential to the growth of the economy and government needs to ensure that all the conditions are in place for such ecosystems to thrive.
“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we drive innovation, creating products that add value through material benefits, savings or unique experiences.”
Hero(es): Nelson Mandela
Start up capital: Investors and acceleration programme (Wayra)
Can you code? No
Education / Training: Lawyer
Product / Service: Accountancy software
I founded MikroElecktronica ten years ago because I wanted to provide software and hardware tools that would save engineers time. We offer entire development tool chains for all major microcontroller architectures that are easy to use and offer complete solutions, unlike many other products on the market today. Even though electronics predated the internet, it would have been much harder for me to set up and grow MikroElektronika without it. In fact, I believe that starting and growing a business takes just 5% of the effort required before the web and digital technologies were available.
Entrepreneurs like me should be left alone by government to get on with what we are good at.
“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we prove that it can be done.”
Start up capital: Savings
Growth rate p.a: 30%
Mentor(s): No but wish I had
Can you code? Yes
Education / Training: Electronics
Product / Service: Engineering hardware and software
At Game Technologies, we strive to invent and create products that do not exist in the market. In the last few years, we have achieved this twice. Our lead product is the most technologically advanced game controller in the world called DICE+. The dice is used to play interactive board games on a tablet or computer. The dice itself is a tiny device (only 25 grams in weight) packed with 60 individual components, all of which are produced in the European Union. We are one of a few hundred companies that will receive an R&D grant this year from the EU.
If I were Minister for SMEs and start ups, I would consistently promote the gaming industry, especially at international trade fairs.
“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we create the most jobs, design numerous innovative products and inspire new businesses to develop more companies.”
Hero(es): My father
Start up capital: Own and private investor
Can you code? No
Education / Training: Engineering
Product / Service: Gaming
My partner Alex Vraskides and I had the vision to make mobile a mainstream marketing medium 12 years ago. MINT, our marketing technology platform delivers the highest conversion rates in the industry. We have advertised goods to over 700 million consumers with close to 100 million making a purchase. We are connected in 40 countries and 23 languages and we are increasingly focused on the emerging markets where we can offer services that have a huge impact on local communities such as English lessons or health alerts.
I would lower tax rates for start ups; modernise intellectual property rules; and develop partnerships between leading universities and start up communities across Europe.
“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we create jobs. The best of us fuel progress in people’s everyday lives through truly innovative products and services.”
Hero(es): My father
Start up capital: Business angels
Growth rate p.a.: 28.4%
Can you code? Yes
Education / Training: International and EU politics
Product / Service: Online marketing services
Learn more about Upstream here.
A vote by delegates at the recent SME Assembly in Naples found that Europe must do more than provide digital technology for entrepreneurs. 73% of those who voted via the conference app disagreed with the motion ‘Thanks to digital technology, everyone can become a successful entrepreneur’.
Watch the Big Debate yourself and let us know which way you would have voted, in the comments below.