[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]
The session addressed the challenges that start-ups face in an economy and the role of innovation to further economic growth. Mr Marcin Cichy (President of the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE), Republic of Poland) stressed the need to provide the right ecosystem to drive innovation and economic prosperity. He added that facilitating innovation has become a top priority of his government and it is now widely appreciated in the region. The process of facilitating innovation is done by creating strategic partnerships with people who are active in the region. He applauded the role played by the ITU in bringing different players from around the world together to discuss the issues.
Mr Mikołaj Rogiński (Counsellor, UKE, Republic of Poland) presented a strategy for responsible development based on five pillars: reindustrialisation, development of innovative companies, increased savings, foreign expansion, and sustainable social and regional development. He further added that innovation in Poland is guarded by Innovation Act, aimed at fostering innovation by bringing changes in taxation of intellectual property and patent laws. Rogiński reiterated that his government is determined to support start-ups and maintain the culture of innovation.
Dr Paolo Casini (Economic Analyst, European Commission) discussed how innovation that takes place anywhere in the world impacts industries in other countries. However, he was sceptical about Internet companies and their role in the economy. He has noticed that very few people are employed by Internet companies, unlike the manufacturing sector. He added that while the productivity of Internet companies is by far larger than manufacturing companies, the risk is that this is just scaling without mass. With current innovations benefiting a very limited number of people in the world, Casini added that this might set a bad precedent for further innovations. He emphasised the role of governments in keeping tabs on the innovation industry. While government intervention on strict liability, data portability, and access to data might help users, they can also indirectly affect innovation. Hence, he called for a balance between public interests and the market economy and harmonisation of regulations.
Mr Manuel Costa Cabral (ANACOM, Portugal) explained to the audience the measures taken by his government to facilitate innovation. He added that his government has worked on reducing the cost of investment to bring in more players to compete in the market. His government is also creating several fiscal policies to attract young and dynamic companies.
Addressing a question from the audience on companies moving to Silicon Valley, Mikołaj stated that one of the main problems is a differential tax system that selectively favours big companies and called for harmonisation of the tax system with uniform standards across the region.
Following the policy presentation, Mr Łukasz Czechowski, Polish Post Digital Services; Dr Frederic Pivetta, Dalberg Data Insights; Mr Damian Traczyk, Photon Entertainment; and Mr Radosław Zych, FlyTech UAV, presented their innovative start-up solutions to the public and explained the value their organisations create for the economy.
The start-ups then listed the opportunities and challenges they face within their own countries and organisations. The culture of an organisation in accepting or rejecting newer solutions, a lack of technical knowledge, closed algorithms, a lack of financial support, and poor access to the global market were identified as some of the key challenges.
The panel agreed that the success of a start-up benefits the whole economy and hence to develop the economy, it is essential to support start-ups.
by Krishna Kumar Rajamannar