This year marks the third annual Innovation and Breakthrough Forum (IBF), hosted by the Cooperative of Innovative Intellectuals in Hong Kong. “Investment: From Growth to Sustainability” featured many esteemed and distinguished guest speakers, notably Chief Guest of Honour, former US vice president and Nobel Laureate Hon. Al Gore. Other industry leaders and decision makers, and those responsible for driving innovation and new development, included Dr. Jacqueline Lui, President of Eagle IP Group Limited; Mr. Andrew Weir, Senior Partner and Vice Chairman of KPMG China; and Dr. Claudia Xu, CEO of HKUST R and D Corporation, Director for Technology Transfer, HKUST.
Mr. Ian Huang is IBF Founder and Chairman; Chairman of Co-operatives of Innovative Intellectuals; Chairman of EXCEL Capital Strategy; and CEO of InnoTech Venture.
Past IBF conferences have covered topics such as “How to Break Innovation” and “Leap to Success”. With introspective keynote speakers from different backgrounds and disciplines, IBF aims to unravel the mysteries of technology and innovation in business.
Can we change? It’s a global emergency, says Gore
In the face of scepticism, former US vice-president and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore continues to be the world’s leading voice about climate change. He is the founder and chairman of the non-profit Climate Reality Project (formerly the Alliance for Climate Protection), created in 2005 to tackle the climate crisis.
He has written multiple books, including the number 1 international bestseller An Inconvenient Truth, the movie version of which won two Oscars. Other books include The Assault on Reason: 2017 Edition; The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change; Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis; and the follow up to An Inconvenient Truth, called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
Mr. Gore has been to Hong Kong, a long time ago. And his message is: shame on us, all of us, for putting up with such unacceptable levels of pollution. It was embarrassing to have the most famous climate change expert berate us about the sorry state of our city, but we all knew he was right.
IBF guests of honour and speakers
Dr. Bernard Chan—the role of IP
Dr Bernard Chan, Principal Guest of Honour and Under Secretary of Commerce & Economic Development in Hong Kong, talked about the importance of intellectual property (IP) as a key to driving innovation. IP refers to creations of the mind, both industrial property and copyrights. Dr. Chan believes that Hong Kong is ripe for IP opportunities—he sees it as the new growth sector—capable of boosting the economy and jobs.
Dr. Radia Perlman—Blockchain technology
Principal Guest of Honour and Dell EMC Fellow, Dr. Radia Perlman, is a trailblazer in computer networks systems and security. She is also an expert on Blockchain—most commonly known for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. This emerging technology is a new type of Internet that allows information to be distributed but not copied, and it could revolutionise all manners of both financial non-financial transactions. It’s effectively a decentralised database, or digital ledger, capable of recording transactions and enforcing contracts related to them.
Globalisation has created a centrifugal force and we’re seeing a reversion of long-term mean.
Do we have the accumulated wisdom to substitute our judgement for the judgement of evolution?
—Al Gore, Nobel Laureate
Compared to the Industrial Revolution, entire fields of science are being revolutionised simultaneously and “at the speed of the Digital Revolution”. Innovation and regulation need to go hand in hand to go forward responsibly. How should investors navigate a world with such hyper-innovation?
The environment is only one part of sustainable business. Sustainable business “does not rob the future in order to enrich the present,” said Gore. Sustainability means seizing the imagination of investors. He’s not saying that sustainable investing is easy—there’s no short cuts if it’s done the right way. But, it has to be done right to make a difference.
Is Al Gore profiting from climate change, as some suggest?
Well, yes, he is. What he’s also doing is proving to naysayers that sustainable investing and environmental long-term strategies can make you very, very wealthy. There are many businesses out there that are profiting from the destruction of our earth. Let’s change our thinking and find opportunity in this new Green Revolution. Mission-driven businesses will have a greater chance at success, and making climate change the mission seems like a pretty good start.
The will to change
Gore knows his facts, he’s great with anecdotes and he has a way of patiently explaining what we all need to do going forward. It seems that, despite all the obstacles, he still maintains faith in the global community to pull together to face climate change, but first we need to agree that something needs to be done.
I was wrong—he wasn’t berating us earlier. He was taking us aside and saying with conviction, “You can do better than this. You deserve a Hong Kong with fresh air and clean water, and I believe you can do it”. Where will find the energy and resources to make such a big change, though?
The will to change is itself a renewable resource.
Written By: Adriane Rysz