How Does Innovation Drive Growth?

I’m excited and honored to be in Vietnam this week for the Top7 Conference - Post-Pandemic Recovery: How Digital Innovation Drives Growth in Our Community, an event that is helping to create a positive, peaceful future for our cities and our world. I would like to thank Binh Duong and Becamex for inviting us here to Vietnam’s first Intelligent Community for the conference. It has been a pleasure to watch Binh Duong continuously making progress and to be here to congratulate the city on its 25th anniversary. It will be good to see my colleagues from the Netherlands and Eindhoven, too. Eindhoven remains, 11 years after its achievement as Intelligent Community of the Year, one of the best examples of what can be done with innovation, cooperation and the power of the Trip Helix.

Our theme today is “How Digital Innovation Drives Growth.” We will ask our guests: what does that mean? And what kind of growth? Economic, social and cultural, political maturity and excellence? Yes, all of these! We should be proud that in Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities, governments also innovate and learn to provide better, timelier and more reliable services to their eager cities and towns.

Bringing Together the Best to Innovate and Grow

At ICF, our approach is to bring together the best people and cities and let them learn from one another. We have invited – and they have accepted – people from Intelligent Communities around the world. Some are here in person, others will use the technologies that have and continue to allow us to be together and share ideas. We will hear from France and Finland, Spain and Ohio in the USA, Germany and Taiwan.

They have all been innovating for many years and are eager to share with you their experiences. They are part of a global family – the global community of Intelligent cities. They recognize Binh Duong as a member of this creative “digital era” family. Hopefully, it is a happy family too, although the last two years have not been a happy time for the world. The spread of COVID has brought on on great disruptions and many changes. The results are far from being fully analyzed.

We have had plagues before, many of them. But we have never been as connected as we were during this one. For millions of people, the digital infrastructure has been like medicine. Good medicine! It helped us work from our homes, remain connected to our families and colleagues. It certainly helped us quickly, miraculously develop vaccines and a new M-RNA platform, test it and distribute it. This was innovation that could not have been done without a digital system.

We say that technology has made things move faster. But I want you to think of this today: It may also help us to go slower, but slower in a good way. The innovation that is coming so fast is allowing workers to be more creative, work in better, more relaxed environments, raise their children, police their cities, manage their resources and create new kinds of businesses, agricultural efficiencies and social wealth. But let’s slow down to dream today.

What is the Dream?

Maybe my own city, my beloved home New York, offers an example. New York is a city where people come to realize their dreams. Sometimes the dream is just to be there. That is often enough. That is a sign of a great city. One that shines and makes people feel good when they are there moving around and enjoying their daily lives.

When we think of Smart Cities and then Intelligent Communities, the idea in this post-COVID world is to make all cities places for great dreams and real achievements. All because we have our smart technology married happily to the human mind. I wish that for your cities and will work with you to make that a reality.

I’m also here to announce the world’s Top7 Communities. We have 21 to choose from and so we will see who is among the 7. (I think you already know the name of at least one of the Smart21!) I can promise you that ICF will continue to tell the world about Vietnam’s achievements and tell the story of Binh Duong. This is a place where dreams and Intelligence and digital innovation will dance together.

Louis Zacharilla
Co-Founder of the Intelligent Community Forum. Louis Zacharilla helped found the Intelligent Community movement. He is the developer of the Intelligent Community Awards program. He is a frequent keynote speaker and a moderator at conferences and events.
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