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Aug 7, 2020

In 2016, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum wrote that “like the revolutions that preceded it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.”

He continued: “In the future, technological innovation will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.”

And so the term Fourth Revolution was coined as a way of describing a future based on the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It’s a combination of developments in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, digital platforms and other technologies. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about more than just innovation-focused change. It is also an opportunity create an inclusive, human-focused future. According to Schwab, “the changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic is certainly putting this theory on change and the future of the world to the test. It has quickly forced all of us to become more reliant on technology and has put us in the position to be more open to experimenting with inventive solutions to the new problems that this global change has created. 

Even before the pandemic, today’s guest believed that the world of innovation is in need of a refresh. Alexandre (Alex)  Lazarow believes that this refresh comes from what he calls the “frontier” - - the growing constellation of startup ecosystems, outside of the Silicon Valley and other major economic centers, that now stretches across the globe. The frontier is a place where startups often must cope with political or economic instability and lack of infrastructure, and where there might be little or no access to traditional investors.

Alex has spent his career working at the intersection of investing, innovation, and economic development in the private, public, and social sectors. He is a venture capitalist with Cathay Innovation, a global firm that invests across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Previously, Alex worked with Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm that has invested over a billion dollars in hundreds of startups around the world. He has served as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company, a financial regulator with the Bank of Canada, and an M&A investment banker with the Royal Bank of Canada. 

His new book on innovation in the future, Out-Innovate, was published by Harvard Business Review Press. It was one of the three finalists for the best book proposals exploring emerging business themes, a competition co-hosted by McKinsey and The Financial Times, organizers of the Business Book of the Year Award. Out-Innovate was named a "Top Book To Inform Your Technology And Innovation Strategy” by Forbes, “The Hottest New Business Book” by Tech Collective and was the #1 Release in Venture Capital on Amazon.