by Nitin Dahad
The latest report from the World Economic Forum says the USA still leads the list of its annual Technology Pioneers list, due largely to its entrepreneurs with millennial mindsets, availability of large domestic markets, and access to venture capital funding. Its list of tech pioneers consists of 49 companies from 10 countries.
Its main conclusion is that entrepreneurs are using their ‘millennial mindset’ and the record amount of venture capital available to address challenges in fields such as medtech, fintech, digital security and energy. While this millennial mindset is developing globally, American-based entrepreneurs continue to dominate the list of Technology Pioneers, accounting for more than two-thirds of the recipients, followed by the UK (4), Israel and the Netherlands (2), and individual recipients of Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and Taiwan, China. France and Spain were among the countries not counting a recipient.
Among those awarded are UK-based TransferWise, which revolutionized money transfers; Holland-based Plant-e, which generates electricity from plants; and US-based Editas Medicine, which is exploring genomic editing applications. They are part of a broader group of entrepreneurs who operate in sectors with high entry costs and at the centre of some of the world’s challenges, including energy production, healthcare, finance and digital security.
Fulvia Montresor, Head of Technology Pioneers at the World Economic Forum. “Today’s Technology Pioneers want to have their cake and eat it, too. Knowing the world has pressing challenges, they are following both their entrepreneurial passions and fulfilling their civic roles at the same time.”
The dominance of the USA can be linked to the available funding (see chart), large domestic market with uniform regulations and welcoming environment, says Montresor. “Money and a big market remain decisive, and the US has those to an extent that other regions can’t match.” It is a reason why some of the Tech Pioneers founded elsewhere, such as Avellino Labs with its Korean roots, have decided to build their companies in the US.
According to Ernst & Young data, featured in a recent Forum report on Alternative Investments, 2014 was the best year for venture capital since 2001, with investments of almost $87 billion. That constituted a rise of some 60% compared to 2013. US tech hubs in Silicon Valley, New York and Boston together accounted for more than 60% of the total, but other regions, particularly China and India, did see a dramatic rise.
The Technology Pioneers were selected from among hundreds of applicants by a selection committee of 68 academics, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporate executives. Members of the committee include Arianna Huffington (founder, Huffington Post) and Henry Blodget (editor-in-chief, Business Insider). The committee based its decisions on criteria including innovation, potential impact, working prototype, viability and leadership. Past recipients include Google (2001), Wikimedia (2007), Mozilla (2007), Kickstarter (2011) and Dropbox (2011).