As you read this, two and a half thousand business leaders and politicians from 88 countries will have finished a week of discussions at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland.
First conceived thirty seven years ago as a meeting for European industrial associations, it has become the main global event at which the powerful, the bright and the popular meet every year to discuss the challenges facing the world economy.
Tony Blair, Bono, Henry Kissinger and even Barbara Streisand are amongst the luminaries rubbing shoulders with the chief executives of the most innovative businesses from five continents, including Bill Gates (above) and Richard Branson.
In terms of Welsh representation at this august gathering, it is not surprising to see Sony’s Barry-born chief executive, Sir Howard Stringer, mixing it with the other leaders of world business.
However, it is also fantastic to see the founder of one of Wales’ most exciting new companies at this event. Mark Crozier, managing director of Bangor-based Deepstream Technologies, was named as one of the WEF’s Technology Pioneers for 2007 and is present again this year to represent the best of innovative businesses worldwide.
Click here to see an interview with Mark.
The timing of the event couldn’t have been more appropriate, given the meltdown in stock markets across the world and the ongoing crisis in the banking sector. I am sure the ‘R’ word is being bandied around every lecture, meeting and cocktail party but whether recession is actually around the corner is still open to debate.
Of course, the issue of economic insecurity was already a key theme of the Forum, especially in mitigating against further risks following the meltdown in the US sub-prime market and the ensuing international credit drought.
However, in the scrum to see whether any leading economist, businessman or politician has any solution to clear the dark clouds of economic gloom other key themes of the forum have been forgotten.
The continuing globalisation of the economy will reward those organisations that can collaborate successfully both within their sectors and externally, especially as introducing new products and services quickly to market will depend on individuals and firms being able to work in partnership across corporate and national boundaries. This will not only include business to business relationships but also links between industry and civic society, with corporate social responsibility becoming the norm, rather than the exception.
In addition, issues such as terrorism, climate change, non-proliferation, poverty, scarcity of natural resources, and an ageing population are changing the pattern of global influence. For example, all businesses and politicians are becoming acutely aware of the growing influence of those countries which have natural resources such as the Arab Gulf States, Iran, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and South Africa. As a result, it is vital that organisations and governments from the European Union, Japan and the United States are able to facilitate and manage their relationships with counterparts in such nations.
Finally, the delegates will have been exploring the future impact of science and technology, especially as every major global problem, from climate change to disease eradication to ageing societies, can potentially be solved through advances in technologies such as nanotechnologies, genetics and computer science.
In the midst of such discussions, I am sure that Mark Crozier is having a great time. Indeed, as he told me last year, where else could you be ordering a drink at a bar whilst standing next to Claudia Schiffer before turning to discuss the state of the computer industry with Michael Dell!
He also believed that staging a similar event in the UK, albeit on a smaller scale, could be of enormous benefit to organisations in the public and private sector, as it would give them the opportunity to get out of the office and the factory to network with other leaders and consider some of the real issues facing the world today.
If that could be done, then why not have Wales as its location? If a sleepy ski resort in the Swiss Alps can become the centre of the world economy for a week, then why can’t somewhere like Llandudno or Portmeirion perform a similar role for the UK?
Certainly, the Assembly Government could, if it wanted to, act as a catalyst in establishing such an event and ensuring that, for a few days of the year, the best of the UK’s businesses come over to Wales.
I personally cannot think of a better way to sell our wonderful nation to the rest of Britain and, indeed, the world.