Jun 9, 2021 - Economy

Bloomberg's plan to take on Davos and the world's greatest challenges

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on February 28, 2020 in Blountville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As the world grapples with the pandemic's impact on globalization, Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday is unveiling the inaugural members of a new group to focus on solving its biggest problems, Axios is the first to report.

Why it matters: COVID-19 spread globally — in an instant shutting borders, disrupting trade and eventually leaving millions dead or sick. What comes next as emerging economies prepare for recovery, will also impact the rest of the world.

What’s happening: Members of the first Bloomberg New Economy Catalysts cohort span six continents and are focused on technology and policy in emerging economies.

  • The group will assemble virtually for a kick-off event on June 30 to discuss the future of climate, agriculture, bio-tech, e-commerce, space and digital money.
  • They will also participate in this year’s in-person Bloomberg New Economy Forum set for November 16-19 in Singapore.
  • The forum, hosted by the former New York City mayor, Henry Kissinger and Hank Paulson, aims to draw roughly 400 business executives, government officials and academics to discuss climate, cities, finance, trade and public health.

Between the lines: Bloomberg's efforts take aim at turf previously dominated by the World Economic Forum's annual V.I.P. event for business and political leaders in Davos. It was cancelled this year after several attempts to set up shop in Singapore this summer.

  • Of note: WEF has a Young Global Leaders program for people younger than 40 from different communities and industries.

What they’re saying: Catalyst will offer startups in places like Africa the opportunity to attract interest and investment, says 25-year-old member Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa.

  • “Startups in Africa strive so hard to get one investor ... which is not the case in Europe, in the U.S., in China, in Japan."
  • She is the founder of the Uganda-based Chil. The group of companies provide services like AI for cancer screenings and drones for transporting cancer specimens from rural areas.

The big picture: The pandemic didn't send globalization back to the dark ages of the financial crisis as initially feared, noted a Harvard Business Review report in March.

  • Aside from the unprecedented collapse in the movement of people to and from, trade has rebounded, along with flows of capital and digital information.

The bottom line: “We certainly are in favor of an open global economy," Andy Browne, the editorial director of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, tells Axios.

"What we’ve seen this year is this really retrograde tendency towards closing borders, towards vaccine nationalism, migrant workers going home and in a sense we feel that the counterforce to that is technology,” Browne says.

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