The third day of the 5th Anniversary Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh saw lively debates and discussions focusing on a broad array of topics from digital finance, digital medicine, culture, entertainment, investing in hydrogen, clean energy start-ups, and the future of AI.
The 5th Anniversary FII closed with a session dedicated to building the next generation of leaders.
Led by FII Institute CEO Richard Attias, the Board of the Future explored both the opportunities and the challenges the next generation are facing – and will face – including social media, fake news and further growth in technology and innovation. Mr Attias said it was important that events like FII stay relevant for the next generation and that they work to build the board members of the future.
Feeding Our Minds: the Future of Culture
In this session, the panelists discussed how the creative economy can continue to bring more art to more people, to continue to explore the limits of emergent technologies in the creation and dissemination of art, and to play an active role in sustainable development, including the empowerment of young people and women.
HE Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, Deputy Minister of Culture, KSA, said: “Saudi culture today is being uncovered and energized at an unprecedented scale. This cultural transformation is the most ambitious one, globally. We want to be at the center of global cultural exchange and share the best of our culture and learn from the rest of the world through partnerships.” Jerry Inzerillo, CEO at Diriyah Gate Development Authority, said: “We are not a theme park. The intention is to restore Diriyah to what it always was for hundreds of years. We want it to become the center of culture and heritage for the entire Middle East.”
Talking about sustainable fashion, Her Highness Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud, Founder, Saudi Fashion Week, said the Saudi Fashion Commission’s mandate is all about sustainability, it is embedded across all our projects and value chain. “We are working across the entire fashion industry value chain, from manufacturing to product development, and sustainability is a key priority.”
“Saudi culture today is being uncovered and energized at an unprecedented scale”
FII Infectious Diseases Index Launch
This session touched on the Global Infectious Diseases Index (GIDI), recently launched by FII Institute with Accenture and Metabiota. The FII Institute Global Infectious Diseases Index includes the top five deadliest global endemic diseases, across 204 countries and territories, and tracks up to 60 pathogens, including the Covid-19.
Nathan Wolfe, Founder, Metabiota, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is a deeply critical point for us. The frequency of pandemics is definitely increasing, will increase further and has highlighted the failure of the public health system. That is because we deal with pandemics the way we deal with other diseases like TB and malaria.”
The FII Institute Global Infectious Diseases Index includes the top five deadliest global endemic diseases, across 204 countries and territories
Health is Becoming Smarter
In the Digital Doctors session on investing in medical innovations, the panel examined how investors and leaders from across the healthcare sector can accelerate the pathways to digital health, especially in emerging markets and “health deserts.”
Giorgio Moretti, Founder & Chairman, Dedalus Health Systems, said: “We produce an enormous mountain of data, but we need to help doctors working in a very complex environment to make better decisions.”
Peter Ohnemus, President & CEO, Dacadoo AG, said: “Investors are looking for an integrated healthcare system where people feel motivated to monitor their vital signs using internet of things devices. We call this the digital health engagement industry.”
In a session on how investment can stop the next pandemic,Sara Althari, Advisor for Biotechnology and Healthcare, Ministry of Investment, KSA, said she is very bullish on platform technologies.“We have seen the rapid ascension of these technologies as a direct consequence of the pandemic. They allow us to respond rapidly to new threats, as we have seen with Covid.”
Frederik Kristensen, Deputy CEO, CEP, said the pandemic has made it clear that research, innovation, and development are very much needed.“Today around 50% of the world’s population has received one dose. In low-income countries, it is less than 3%. It demonstrated the failures of the global system at the macro level.”
Speakers engaged in key discussions in the “Investing in Hydrogen” session. Ahmed Al Khowaiter, CTO, Saudi Aramco, said Aramco is leapfrogging from LNG to lower carbon-hydrogen considering that there is no other way to catch up with the global ambition to achieve net zero. Sherif Foda, Chairman of the Board and CEO, National Energy Services Reunited, said: “The key question is how we can leverage the current infrastructure to produce low-carbon hydrogen. The key will be to leverage our gas infrastructure technology to produce that water and make the energy sector greener.”
Talking about intelligent machines, H.E. Dr Abdullah bin Sharaf Alghamdi, President, Saudi Data & AI Authority, said: “Cities may look different after the application of AI and technologies may change society – but humans will still be in control of how that technology is used in the future.
Bruno Maisonnier, Founder & CEO, AnotherBrain, said every facet of humanity will be changed by AI.“Everybody understands we’re facing a huge environmental problem, but we are not moving fast enough to tackle it. We need additional intelligence to solve this existential question and help us make better decisions for the future.”
Addressing the panel on the future of entertainment,Ignace Lahoud, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Group, said: “We felt the impact of the pandemic just like the rest of the world. But we have seen a strong revival. With recent blockbusters such as Bond and Venom…we are back to levels before the pandemic.”
Sanford Climan, President, Entertainment Media Ventures, said:“Saudi Arabia will be the center for content creation – not just in MENA. People are watching high-quality content in any language. The hope is this region will be the true hub of storytelling.”
“Cities may look different after the application of AI and technologies may change society”
The New Formula 1
Martin Whitaker, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Formula 1, said having an event of the nature of Formula 1 in Saudi Arabia is phenomenal. There are 300 staff working on the ground, 40% of them are women. “Jeddah is a fantastic venue that gives us an opportunity to stage a race right on the shores of the Red Sea. It will bring 500 million people to watch this global spectacle and create an opportunity for both Kingdom and the city of Jeddah to create an international profile while creating a platform for business.”
Reinforcing the sustainable theme of the ‘Invest in Humanity’ program there were wide-ranging discussions on the future of electric transport solutions. Peter Rawlinson, CEO, Lucid Motors explained: “If we can go further with fewer batteries, then that’s true environmentalism and we can do that through high technology.”
Alexander Asseily, Vice President, Lilium, said: “What we’re envisioning is electrical vertical take-off and landing in a jet. You can then start to reimagine the modalities of how cities are connected once you can have very light-touch infrastructure that instantly brings life to whole regions.”
Pierre Lahutt, Chief Strategy & Development Officer, Navya, said: “The real revolution is set to be in the commercial vehicle space because in this sector there is a huge scarcity of labor. This is work that people increasingly don’t want to do.”
“What we’re envisioning is electrical vertical take-off and landing in a jet”
Securing the Biotech Ecosystem
Dammam Biotech Valley was launched on the final day to become a cornerstone for new economic sectors in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia.
H.E. Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment, KSA said the new Biotech valley will be fostered by an advanced ecosystem in the eastern province of the Kingdom, where leading hospitals and research centers are allocated, along with Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, Saudi Aramco and several huge facilitators that will expedite the growth of the sector.
“Dammam will be a key center for Biotech and our mission as a ministry is to support and enable all players in the sector, that is why we have seen agreements to support the ecosystem with global players like AstraZeneca, Roche, J&J, and we are confident that many more will come,” Al Falih added.