Tenerife, a knowledge-based island

Leif Edvinsson at his talk. Credit: Alejandra Rueda Moral (IAC).

The New Club of Paris, (NCP) whose objective is to support the regions towards transformation to a knowledge-based society, celebrated on Wednesday a panel discussion at the Headquarters of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), organized by the Humboldt Cosmos Multiversity in collaboration with the IAC, which centred on the possibilities for Tenerife to improve its current socio-economic situation and transform itself into a knowedge-based island, with support from the research and the technical infrastructures in the region.

The initial presentation was by Campbell Warden, Executive Secretaryh of the IAC, Isabel León Pérez, the manager of the University Extenson and Social Projection of the University of La Laguna, José Alfonso López Aguerri, an IAC researcher, Pablo Redondo, the technical manager of IACTEC, and Günter Koch, founder and secretary general of the New Club of Paris until 2014 and, since 2012, of the Cosmos  Humboldt Multiversity Foundation. After this presentation there was a series of talks, followed by a final debate among those present.

Rodrigo Trujillo, Professor at the University of La Laguna and vice-President of the Humboldt Cosmos Multiveristy, gave the inaugural speech of the afternoon, in which he presented regional and national data, comparing these with their European and world equivalents, and giving a picture of the social and economic situation in Tenerife, in the Canaries, and in Spain. He reminded those present that “We must avoid using antiquated solutions to solve new problems” in relation to unemployment and low economic growth compared to other regions with similar characteristics, such as the Balearics. In his opinion to change these data it will be necessary to créate XXI century jobs, based on innovation, research and development, and business initiative, in short to bring the Canariesin the Knowledge-based economy.

In his speech Koch used the opportunity to run through the history of the organization of which he is the director (Humboldt Cosmos Multiversity) and to talk about the New Club of Pairs. He expressed the importance of empowering intellectual capital, and the need to research for the future, and he also listed the reasons why he considered that the Island can achieve this social and economic model based on innovation and technology.

The last to speak was Leif Edvinsson, Emeritus Professor at the University of Lund (Sweden) and founder-President of the New Club of Paris (NPC) who told the audience that we are in the age of the mind. He also talked about the origin of the NCP, the RICARDIS ((Reporting Intellectual Capital to Augment Research Development and Innovation in SME’s) report. He mentioned one of the authors of that report, Carmen Vela, at present Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation. In the same way as his colleagues, Edvinsson referred to the intangibles in the Islands, and the need to empower them, increasing the number of scientists and researchers in the Canaries, in the same way as the IAC has done. He chose Barcelona as a good example of a city transformed by knowlege, which Tenerife could take as a model, and added other examples from industry, such as Tesla, which are inspiring the way to the future. The competitive advantage of the Island would be the 6 million visitors who come here per year, a factor 6 bigger than the residents, and which could be an added value to evolve towards this new Knowledge-based Island.

After the meeting and the debate among those present which followed, the conclusion was reached that political empresarial leadership is needed in order to achieve this change to a Knowledge based society. Also that the changes sought are not aimed at improving the life of those presently active, but for future generations, and that it will be necessary to have a vision extending over 15 to 20 years, at least, to achieve them. The pillars needed to bring about these changes are just those needed to sustain Intellectual Capital (IC) within organizations: human capital (training, knowledge, specialization, commitment, etc.), structural capital (resources, processes, intellectual property, efficient organization and management, quality, etc.) and relational capital (network of contacts, collaborators and customers, strategic partners, ability to make agreement and synergies, ability to attract tallent, etc.).

During the meeting several ways to give an impulse to regional economic development were proposed, whose basis is related to the model of Intellectual Capital expressed in terms of intangible assets. Edvinsson and Koch suggest applying the Method of IC to the development of the Canary Islands as Knowledge-based island. Furthermore, those who took part in the meeting committed themselves to arrange futher similar meetings, with the IAC (specifically with IACTEc) and with the Humboldt Cosmos Multiversity. One of these activities will be a meeting on knowledge transfer and the creation of employment, foreseen for the end of 2018.

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