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Posted: Sep 23, 2013

'Green future' development: Top 10 priorities for emerging economy countries

(Nanowerk News) Investments in green energy, education, networking opportunities and research top a list of 10 priorities for countries looking to move up the world's financial ranks, according to a leading US expert in innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and economic growth.
Jerry Hultin, Senior Presidential Fellow of New York University, and President Emeritus of the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, says investments in life-long education and entrepreneurial spirit are the primary keys to a country's economic breakthrough.
Mr. Hultin, also a former US Secretary of the Navy, who now advises leaders in both the private and public sectors worldwide, is one of several top US experts attending an international forum Monday Sept. 23 in San Francisco: "Building Sustainable Green Growth and Green Future," followed by an afternoon session with leading American executives detailing "successful growth strategies of innovation-driven companies."
The twin events form central elements of a meeting of Malaysia's Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council, created in 2011 by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak through the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences. GSIAC is comprised of world leaders in economics, business, science and technology, each volunteering to help Malaysia pioneer a development path in a sustainable manner. Prime Minister Razak chairs the GSIAC.
According to Mr. Hultin, the top 10 "Green Future" priorities for emerging economy nations:
Support green energy development and policies
Mr. Hultin says energy security is an essential investment in every economy, simultaneously promoting entrepreneurship, the growth of human capital, and businesses of every size -- from small scale to large public-private partnerships.
Mr. Hultin cited as a model Malaysia's National Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan, established in 2009, and urged its full implementation.
Provide "cradle to career" education opportunity
Reinforcing views of fellow GSIAC members, Mr. Hultin prescribes the start of educational activities from the earliest possible age, with emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, to increase the supply of bright entrepreneurial employees available in the national work pool.
Re-envision universities
Enable university researchers to exit the system, run businesses, and return, says Mr. Hultin, and foster collaborations between science / technology students and business students.
As well, he says, governments should help develop university-run business incubators, facilitate the evolution of research to marketable products, and be a "market-making customer" for new technologies.
Create a culture of national networking for innovation with special purpose incubators
Mr. Hultin cites several \ global examples of networking incubators that promote innovation and its financing, including:
  • VC4Africa (East Africa's Venture Capital for Africa: vc4africa.biz)
  • MediaX in Palo Alto, which connects businesses with Stanford University's world-renowned faculty: mediax.stanford.edu
  • Media Lab of New York, a collaboration between the city government, the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and Columbia University, connecting companies looking to advance new media technologies with academic institutions undertaking relevant research, in order to drive collaborative innovation: nycmedialab.org
  • Mr. Hultin adds that companies in the developing world might use such networking mechanisms to team with firms in need of local expertise to support and grow exports.
    He also pointed to such networking opportunities as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit Oct. 12, officiated by US President Obama and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib, part of the International Greentech and Ecoproducts Exhibition and Conference, in Malaysia Oct. 10 to 13.
    Stress research and development, including living laboratories
    Stressing again the critical importance of energy, Mr. Hultin advocates smart electricity initiatives essential to cities of the future, developing and demonstrating energy-saving technologies for the creation of smart transportation, smart buildings and 'microgrids' (local power generation via small urban wind turbines), which together will offer the highest returns on green energy investments.
    China is planning cities for 250 million people, he noted, creating enormous opportunity for companies worldwide with relevant high efficiency technologies and expertise.
    He points also to the potential of bio-mass in a country like Malaysia with its enormous palm oil industry, the waste from which represents a major Malaysian asset, though its use involves challenges and shale oil will be a very competitive energy option.
    Help other developing nations increase their green energy programs
    To help create "a robust, energetic active network of ideas, young people and capital," engage young people and learn from innovative efforts in other parts of the world, says Mr. Hultin, such as the creation of Africa's Konsa Techno City in Kenya (http://www.konzacity.co.ke), described as "a sustainable, world-class technology hub and a major economic driver for the nation with a vibrant mix of businesses, workers, residents, and urban amenities."
    Says Mr. Hultin: "Get out of your home. Help. Learn. Get excited. Bring back ideas."
    Strongly support small and medium enterprises
    "A lot of new ideas will come at this level, so pay attention," says Mr. Hultin.
    Malaysia's IRIS Corporation, for example, has developed and demonstrated a "smart village," featuring a self-sustaining agriculture system and small homes built with a mixture of styrofoam and cement as its base, "thus lowering development cost without compromising quality," says IRIS. Offering a dignified exit from rural poverty, the first village was inaugurated earlier this year by Prime Minister Najib and attracted world attention, with the Malaysian innovators invited to create a smart village in rural South Africa.
    Seed small commercial developments in rural areas
    Mr. Hultin suggests emulating creative enterprises like the Green Energy Park in South Africa, which deploys simple, profitable applications for transforming biomass into energy and/or chemicals.
    Another example: mobile kiosks for charging cell phones with solar power to help build wireless networks in pockets of the world that are still off-grid.
    Invest in long-term, game-changing breakthrough research
    "Support a long-term transformative breakthrough in science that will completely disrupt and revolutionize the energy equation, even if it may take 30 years to see the results," Mr. Hultin counsels. "Team up with US, European, Indian and/or Chinese universities and corporations."
    Examples of such research: Large storage battery technology or high efficiency solar power.
    Identify new opportunities in the global market place
    The modular construction of buildings and bridges for export, an innovation being pioneered in the Philippines, is a great example of an emerging opportunity, Mr. Hultin says, as are opportunities related to the world's ever-rising need for resources -- especially food and water -- over the next 30 years.
    "Finding money for game-changing ideas will not be an issue," he adds. "Money will find big ideas that work."
    "Malaysia has made real progress in creating an innovation economy and focusing on green energy. Now is the time to connect entrepreneurial young people into a fertile network that produces new solutions, new businesses, and new jobs. To use an analogy: The water is hot; now is the time to make the water boil!"
    Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to Prime Minister Najib, says recommended reforms in the national educational and other human capacity-building systems, finding additional value in Malaysia's oil palm tree resources, and the creation of "smart" communities large and small, are among the ways in which the international council has made a valued contribution to Malaysia's sustainable development in the two and a half years since its creation.
    "The GSIAC provides an important international sounding board for the Prime Minister in his leadership of Malaysia's efforts to create a sustainable, high income economy through science, technology and innovation, and we are grateful to all those from other countries such as Jerry Hultin contributing their time and expertise to benefit the Malaysian people."
    Source: Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology
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