PASSPORT TO INNOVATION A conversation with Editor in Chief Brett Brune

John Moavenzadeh

Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum


WEF introduces Shaping the Future of Production Systems

Please describe the World Economic Forum’s initia-

tive on the Future of Manufacturing and its involvement and the Forum’s latest annual meeting in Davos. We launched the Future of Manufacturing initiative four

years ago to explore the fundamental shifts in the global manufacturing ecosystem. At that time, multinationals were intensely interested in the impact of emerging technolo- gies on the global production system, as well as the role of government policy. At our most recent annual meeting in Davos, we convened a stellar group of CEOs and ministers from multiple countries to launch the “Shaping the Future of Production Systems” initia- tive, which will stimulate substantive public-private collaboration on how we can drive innovative, sustainable and job-creating manufacturing and production systems globally. What’s really amazing is the interest and en- thusiasm from government leaders to understand the global production system—and to develop an advanced manufacturing strategy. That is a comprehensive set of policies that plays to each nation’s unique strengths. When we started this work four years ago, the interest was driven by the business side. Now we see an incredible rise in interest from the government side. And this is a very wide range of governments, from Germany to Brazil to Japan to China.

Why do you think policymakers are more interested

now than they were four years ago in manufacturing and production? There’s a greater awareness of the concept of global

value chains. That is this concept that products are not made where they’re assembled; they are made in the world. So your iPhone is probably the best example. It is engineered and designed in California. It’s assembled in China but using DRAM chips from Taiwan and Korea and a gyroscope from France and gorilla glass from Kentucky. Now, there is an understanding of that flow of value and how it takes place for many products in very complex supply chains that involve a number of countries around the world. And therefore there is this understanding that “we as a country want to better participate and contribute to global value chains.”

38 For example, if Bangalore, India, has an outstanding

university for computational fluid dynamics and a lot of talented people in that very specific field are emerging in Bangalore, maybe big companies like Boeing and GE and Siemens would want to build facilities in Bangalore to deliver the talent they need in that specific field. So it’s a two-way street between global companies and countries that have certain skills and capabilities to offer for the global production system.

Illustration by Eric Rossbach

Klaus Schwab, the founder of WEF, wrote in his

book The Fourth Industrial Revolution that the fusion of technologies like gene sequencing, nanotechnology, renewables and quantum computing—and their interac- tion across the physical, digital and biological domains— makes the Fourth Industrial Revolution fundamentally dif- ferent from previous revolutions. What evidence did you see at Davos this year that we are ready for this? Or not? We saw plenty of evidence that the Fourth Industrial

Revolution is here. We saw very little evidence that the world is ready for it. And hence our intense focus on this topic at the Forum. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is different from the first three industrial revolutions due to three characteristics: Speed, scope and the systemic na- ture of what is happening now.

Fall 2016

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