WEF drives investment into urban innovation

24 October 2023 14:55

Cologny - The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched a global initiative to support the development of innovation ecosystems in key cities. The goal is to connect urban entrepreneurs to new markets while building resilient local economies. San Francisco in the United States will provide the first test case for the work.

The WEF has launched the Alliance for Urban Innovation to connect urban innovators and entrepreneurs to new markets while helping to build more resilient local economies in key cities, according to a statement. “Two years ago, we came together in Detroit to establish the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Urban Transformation, rallying the global business community and key stakeholders to aid cities in their post-COVID recovery,” commented Jeff Merritt, Head of Urban Transformation, WEF, during the launch of the Alliance. “Today, we mark the next phase of this journey.”

San Francisco, whose business district has struggled to rebound post-pandemic, is providing a first test case for how the Alliance can drive investment into local innovation, explains the statement. Mayor of San Francisco London Breed described the challenges faced by the city as an opportunity to think bigger. “We have to be bold. That’s in our DNA. To say yes — yes to new opportunities, yes to new ideas, yes to creativity,” she said. With support from the WEF's innovation platform Uplink, San Francisco has announced the Yes San Fransisco Urban Sustainability Challenge, calling for solutions to enable a green, resilient and inclusive future, according to Rodney Fong, CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, in the statement.

The WEF Alliance will be co-chaired by Bedrock, a real estate firm based in Detroit, and Invest Ottawa, an economic development agency in the Canadian capital. Bedrock’s so-called Urban Tech Xchange will provide a platform for new startups to develop, test and scale their solutions within the company’s portfolio of more than 100 properties across Detroit and Cleveland. Meanwhile, Invest Ottawa has committed to hosting the Alliance’s first global showcase in 2024. It will bring together companies, government leaders and innovation districts from around the world to Area X.O, a research and development facility in Ottawa. ce/em

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