We can turn societal challenges into opportunities.

The Adviser at DG Connect at the EU Commission Ilias Iakovidis

The situation we find ourselves in today is very unique. There are many crises in the areas of ageing, security, health, economy, migration, food and they are all happening simultaneously. In order to solve a problem, we need to look at the bigger picture and consider how each crisis contributes to the problem in question.

At the 2017 edition of Webit.Festival Europe the Adviser at DG Connect at the EU Commission Ilias Iakovidis talked about how these crises should be viewed as opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. It is important to understand the NGOs and social entrepreneurs can’t cope with societal challenges on their own. This is how business opportunities arise and it is up to entrepreneurs to look for them and take advantage of them.

Demographic change has the greatest impact mostly because it happens so slowly that politicians don’t notice it. It is estimated that from 25% of the world population, Europeans will shift to representing only 4%. This is a major problem that will take its toll on people’s minds and way of living.


The Adviser at DG Connect at the EU Commission Ilias Iakovidis

It is important to understand that the time of crisis is the right time to innovate. Even if we are not good at something, we should accept the challenge as an opportunity to grow. Especially when we have the infrastructure and the brains needed, the only road leads to success.

But to get to success, it is vital to know what we are doing and how exactly to do it. At some point, it is necessary to work with public administrations and the key is to understand they are not there to take care only of our issues. In fact, they have their own targets to achieve and problems to solve. If we are clever enough, we should divide the problem in parts and consult a different administration responsible for that particular issue.

“Innovation is not invention!”, Ilias Iakovidis said.

According to him to innovate and obtain both societal and economic benefits, funding is not enough. Many people make the mistake to obsess over funding. And if the ideal for success is becoming an unicorn, then the lack of a single European market will leave many disappointed. But that doesn’t mean other opportunities don’t exist. On the contrary, they do, especially in the work with societal issues.

It is all about ecosystem and in both demographic change and health we have a developed ecosystem. There are already regions putting money in this areas and entrepreneurs who work in health, smart homes, ageing and independent living should check what financial support they can receive from these regions and grab the opportunities for digital innovation. The so called silver economy creates huge opportunities for businesses. Age is a very active lead market which the EU Commission has an interest in approaching.

A lot of consensus and collaboration are needed to build a successful innovation business. The creation of an ecosystem requires people to get out of their comfort zone and to even start doing things they are not very good at. But this is the only way to success.

The worst thing that we witness today is scientists who are behind the invention trying to be inventors, innovators and businessmen all at the same time. The truth is, it doesn’t work that way, they have to choose to be either an inventor or a businessmen. For sure they can’t do both.

You can watch his full lecture here:


If you want to keep up with the latest trends in the world of digital economy and technology, then Webit.Festival is the right place for you. Visit our website and book 2 in 1 of our Super Earlybird tickets for Webit.Festival Europe 2018.

Feel the Webit vibe with some of the best photos from this year’s event!


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