Editorial: An exciting start to the year

Government venturing often sits at the sharp end of discussion about what technology can create or disrupt.As the venture industry continues to develop, this year will require sophisticated responses to the looming challenges.

China’s decision last month to set up a $6.5bn venture fund has stirred plenty of interest in our inaugural Global Government Venturing Summit at the High-Tech Campus Eindhoven, part of the world’s smartest region – Brainport. We have more than 200 attendees, representing entrepreneurs, governments with more than €27bn ($30bn) committed to venture capital, venture investors from around the world representing more than $10bn in assets, and corporations with more than $1 trillion in aggregate annual revenues.

As demonstrated by China’s decision, from its highest echelons of power, it is an important time to discusshow and why governments can help others in their innovation ecosystem. I look forward to the networking and connections being made as people collaborate and learn more about the industry and just why Eindhoven offers such a rich array of opportunities. It will also be a good opportunity to thank those who have supported Global Government Venturing from its birth, and learn what more we can do to help.

Over the past year’s development of Global Government Venturing as the industry’s first trade paper, we have sought to understand both the scale of what is being done, and by which government organisations, through investing and setting tax and regulatory policies, as well as showcasing the different approaches taken by countries and the reasons behind them.

The separate Global Government Venturing Directory 2015, released at the summit, covers more than 20 such approaches, from states to countries to supranational agencies. These cases are taken from the monthly Global Government Venturing magazine sent to subscribers and builds on the work done by its reporters in tracking the deals and fund launches, as well as people and regulatory and tax changes on a daily basis.

Using empirical research, Global Government Venturing is able to build up the first and most comprehensive attempt to understand this industry and its place in the broader venture eco-system. Highlights of this research are in this directory’s data review as well as online.

But the data and the exemplary leadership from the industry’s stars also creates an opportunity to shine a brighter light on their good work. This month’s issue reviews the winners from the Global Government Venturing Awards presented at the summit. Last year was Global Government Venturing’s first, and the range and sophistication of the industry’s activities have been something of a surprise after my 15 years of covering the broader private and public financial markets.

China’s giant leap to pull together its venture programmes, as well as the national intentions of its peers around the world, indicates that the innovation cycle and funding for disruptive ideas remains strong.

But out of these changes will be those who do increasingly well and others who struggle. The winners of these Global Government Venturing awards and the leaders in the venture industry more generally are often those who show the empathy and insights required to build a collaborative ecosystem to support both sets of actors. Governments also need to be aware that the consequencescan be severe.

As last month’s World Economic Forum concluded in snapshots of risks and risk trends, emerging technolo-gies are one of three “risk constellations”. The report stated: “Disciplines such as synthetic biology and artificialintelligence are creating new fundamental capabilities, which offer tremendous potential for solving the world’smost pressing problems. At the same time, they present hard-to-foresee risks.

“Oversight mechanisms need to more effectively balance likely benefits and commercial demands with a deeper consideration of ethical questions and medium to long-term risks – ranging from economic to environmental and societal. In light of the complexities and rapidly changing nature of emerging technologies, governance should be designed in such a way as to facilitate dialogue among all stakeholders.”

But dialogue is sufficient only if talking leads to action and changes. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and Europe – negotiated alongside a similar agreement between the US and Asia – found 97% of the 149,399 responses voiced either a general rejection or opposition to investor state dispute settlement in the TTIP. 

Government venturing often sits at the sharp end of discussion about what technology can create or disrupt.As the venture industry continues to develop, this year will require sophisticated responses to the looming challenges.

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