The Startup4IR initiative was created after the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in 2016. A part of this initiative is to look for the best 100 Arab startups. International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is a part of the World Bank Group partnered with WEF in creating this startup initiative with the goal to engage a new generation of entrepreneurs. This has been heralded as the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’
The idea of the fourth industrial revolution was adopted as a concept and according to it, changes that are about to happen will shake up the entire system, affecting all areas of life. The negative aftermaths of this revolution are expected to happen mostly in the job market with over 5 million jobs lost.
Much like the third industrial revolution that started during the sixties and inevitably changed everything with the internet and digital technology, the fourth revolution that will have even greater impact. According to WEF founder Klaus Schwab, the fourth industrial revolution is just around the corner and it will affect physical, digital and biological worlds to create an unprecedented system.
The initiative aims to engage MENA region startups into the rising industrial revolution and to include them in global innovation. Head of WEF MENA Mirek Dusek underlines the importance of the interactions between startups and politicians. This is mainly in order to provide a different perspective for both sides. While entrepreneurs will realize they could not only increase profits but also their countries’ GDP. On the other hand, politicians should meet startups’ representatives with the idea of implementing innovative solutions as responses to large-scale national problems.
The conference is scheduled for May this year and it will take place at the Dead Sea. This will also be a great opportunity for the participants to partner with WEF members on the future projects in the region. This annual regional event usually has around 1,000 participants. As organizers said this year’s priority in the selection process will have startups that work with artificial intelligence, 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Dusek said that they chose startups from MENA region since it has so much going on, and they want to be a part of the change. He also added that hopefully, the initiative will have the impact on other regions as well.
This won’t be the first activity of the forum in terms of promoting entrepreneurship. It was the co-founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, that is in charge of selecting social enterprises from all over the world. Furthermore, it runs the Technology Pioneers that is in charge for selection of 30 startups prominent in the ecosystem.