News In Context

The 2021 Davos Agenda

The 2021 Davos Agenda

Starting Monday, 25 January, more than 1,200 leaders from business, government and civil society from 60 countries will convene virtually for The Davos Agenda, a week of high-level talks hosted by the World Economic Forum to discuss the overarching theme of “A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust”.  Sessions will focus on critical issues such as COVID-19 vaccination programs, job creation, artificial intelligence, data privacy, climate change and stakeholder capitalism.  The Innovator’s Editor-in-Chief will moderate a January 28th session entitled “Resetting the Business of Data and AI in Healthcare” with Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, South Centre Executive Director Carlos María Correa, and Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services of South Africa.

The virtual meet-up is taking place during the week that world leaders usually convene in Davos, Switzerland for the Forum’s annual meeting. Due to the pandemic the meeting is taking place online, with a physical meeting planned in Singapore planned as a follow-up in late May.

During a pre-meeting press conference this week with senior Forum staff (see the photo) Klaus Schwab, the Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman, talked about how important it will be in a post-pandemic world to not just to establish sound economic growth but also ensure that the world is “more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable, and above all to restore trust.”   Tackling the climate crisis, designing fairer economic and social systems and ensuring technology will be used for good, will require multilateral systems that are fit to meet the challenges of the 21st century, he said. “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to reset priorities and the urgency to reform systems have been growing stronger around the world,” said Schwab. “Rebuilding trust and increasing global cooperation are crucial to foster innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery. This unique meeting will be an opportunity for leaders to outline their vision and address the most important issues of our time, such as the need to accelerate job creation and to protect the environment.”

Each day of the five-day program will have its own in-depth focus:

* Designing cohesive, sustainable, resilient economic systems (25 January)

*. Driving responsible industry transformation and growth (26 January)

*. Enhancing stewardship of the global commons (27 January)

*. Harnessing the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (28 January)

* Advancing global and regional cooperation (29 January)

Sessions that promise to be of interest to our readers include “Skilling The Global Workforce, “Averting A Cyber Pandemic”, “Fostering AI Leadership”, “Implementing Stakeholder Capitalism”, “Unlocking Innovation To Transform Food Systems” and “Accelerating Green Energy Transition.”

Taking part in the discussions next week will be heads of state and government including Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany;Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; and Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China.

They will be joined by business leaders and the heads of international organizations, including Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization; Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; and Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank.

Here’s how you can follow the Davos Agenda. During the Davos Agenda the Forum is expected to launch several new initiatives to accelerate the race to net-zero emissions, ensure the ethical use of technology, champion new standards for social justice and to close the digital divide. The Innovator will provide in-depth coverage of the meeting on Friday January 29.



Microsoft Invests In Driverless Car Company Cruise

Microsoft has invested in Cruise, the General Motors driverless car unit, in a $2bn funding round that gives the autonomous driving company a $30bn valuation. Cruise, which was bought by GM for “more than $1bn” in 2016, when it had just 40 employees, now has almost 2,000 staff and accounts for more than 40 per cent of GM’s $71.5bn market capitalisation. Its latest investment round puts it head-to-head with Waymo, the Google sister company, as the world’s most valuable autonomous driving start-up. Waymo raised $3.2bn last year at an undisclosed valuation that two people said to the FT was “more than $30bn”. The investment in Cruise is Microsoft’s first major foray into driverless cars, although the software company does have a “connected car” business that supplies “digital chassis” and cloud services to the likes of Volkswagen, BMW and Ford.

China’s Geely Teams With Tencent On Smart Car Tech

China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which owns Volvo Cars and holds 9.7% of Daimler, said it has signed an agreement with Tencent Holding to develop smart vehicle cockpit and autonomous driving.The deal with Tencent, which has investments in EV makers including Tesla and Nio, is the third recent partnership by Hangzhou-based Geely with companies involved in the tech sector.Geely said this month it would launch a smart electric vehicle company with Baidu and later that it would form a separate venture with Foxconn to provide contract manufacturing for automakers.


Spanish Food Delivery Startup Glovo To Expand Network Of “Dark Stores”

Spanish food delivery startup Glovo has struck a deal with Swiss real estate firm Stoneweg to invest €100 million to expand its network of convenience stores.Stoneweg will build and refurbish real estate for the “dark stores,” which are delivery-only convenience markets, in countries where Glovo is already operating, such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Romania, Glovo said in a statement. Glovo has agreed to occupy the sites for an unspecified period of time and the Barcelona-based company aims to have 100 of the units by the end of the year, up from 18 now.“We see this as the third generation of commerce as there is the traditional way of shopping, then e-commerce and now the quick commerce in which delivery comes to your house in 30 minutes,” Glovo Chief Executive Officer Oscar Pierre said in an interview. The closely held company started operating dark-supermarkets in late 2019 to diversify away from restaurant deliveries.


Pizza Hut To Launch Delivery By Drone In Israel

Restaurant tech company Dragontail Systems has joined up with Pizza Hut for pizza delivery by drone in Israel. To make this type of airborne delivery happen, Dragontail is integrating drones into its Algo Dispatching System, which uses AI to manage food preparation and delivery workflow. The delivery drones won’t be dropping pizzas off at people’s front doors, however. Rather, they will fly pizzas to remote designated landing zones where delivery drivers will pick them up for last mile of the delivery. This remote drop-off hub approach is gaining traction with delivery companies around the world. IFood is using this model in Brazil, and in the U.S., Uber is taking this approach with its drone delivery program. 


Ais That Read Sentences Are Now Spotting Corona Virus Variants

NLP algorithms designed for words and sentences can also be used to interpret genetic changes in viruses—speeding up lab work to spot new variants.

British Hospitals Use Blockchain To Keep Track Of COVID-19 Vaccines

Two British hospitals are using blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines, the companies behind the initiative said. It is one of the first such initiatives in the world.

Blind Man Regains Sight After First Artificial Cornea Implant

An Israeli man regained his sight after a decade of blindness following the first artificial cornea implantation developed by Israeli medical tech company CorNeat Vision.


EC And ECB Join Forces To Investigate Intro Of Digital Euro

The European Commission and European Central Bank are working together to investigate the policy, legal and technical questions emerging from a possible introduction of a digital euro.

Software Developer Is Now Allowing Employees To Opt To Receive Part Of Their Salaries In Cryptocurrencies

Software development services provider Sequoia Holdings said its employees can now receive a part of their salary in cryptocurrencies, should they choose to.


Google Shutting Down Loon, Which Used Balloons Instead Of Cell Towers For Internet Connectivity

Google parent Alphabet is shutting down its Internet balloon business, Loon, which aimed to provide a less expensive alternative to cell towers, said “the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped.” Founded in 2011, Loon aimed to bring connectivity to areas of the world where building cell towers is too expensive or treacherous by using balloons the length of tennis courts to float solar-powered networking gear high above the Earth. But the wireless carriers that Loon saw as buyers of its technology have questioned its technical and political viability.


Intel Says Hacker Obtained Financially Sensitive Information

Intel said it was the victim of a hacker who stole financially sensitive information from its corporate website on January 21, prompting the company to release its earnings statement ahead of schedule.  

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.