Andrew Schapiro: From innovation to prosperity to peace

Andrew Schapiro: From innovation to prosperity to peace
7. září 2016 • 09:25
The Czech economy is strong and dynamic. It is an industrial powerhouse and, increasingly, a centre of innovation and entrepreneurship. These trends are great news, not only for the Czech citizens reaping the benefits of growth, but also for the world, because prosperous countries tend to be stable and peaceful.

First, openness and accessibility are essential. While talent may be everywhere, opportunity is not. We never know from where – or whom - the next great idea will come. An education system that helps everyone – including women and minorities – achieve their potential, develops critical thinking skills and challenges conventional wisdom is critical to an innovation-based economy.

Our experience has also shown that openness to immigration can be an important contributor to economic growth. In the United States we have learned that several factors help to create an environment in which innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish. I am excited to see that these features of an innovation environment are taking root here, as well. Immigrants bring talent, determination, and deliver an immensely positive economic impact to the US economy: The Partnership for a New American Economy found that immigrants started 28 percent of all new US businesses in 2011, and employ one out of every 10 private-sector workers. Nearly half the technology startups in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants.

Two factors play an important role: a willingness to take risks, and the “freedom to fail”

Additionally, a level playing field with clear and consistently enforced rules is also critical to success. Transparency in government and the private sector makes it easier to start and maintain a business, and a fair legal system gives innovators – and the investors who support them - the confidence to take risks, knowing that their achievements and rewards will be protected. Finally, two related cultural factors play an important role: a willingness to take risks, and the “freedom to fail”. Many outstanding US entrepreneurs had multiple failures before they achieved success; they learned from their mistakes, picked themselves up, and doubled their efforts the second time around. It can be frightening to take a risk without certainty of success, but more and more young Czechs whom I meet are willing to do just that, and it is they who will be the creators of the next wave of great companies in this country.

This November will mark the fourth Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in the Czech Republic, and I am proud that our embassy will once again host several events aimed at helping innovators and entrepreneurs to flourish. Because when they succeed, all of us benefit.

The author is the US ambassador to the Czech Republic

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