Imagine a place where the cops on the street out-number the pedestrians; where endless black Audi sedans compete head to head with TV remote broadcast trucks for a few precious meters of parking space; where every restaurant and every hotel is bursting at the seams. You might be thinking of Cannes during the summer film festival but in this town the celebrities don’t win Oscars, they win elections. This is Davos, a small mountain village in the Swiss Alps that for 4 days every winter is vaulted into the global spotlight as host to the World Economic Forum. The Forum’s goals are modest – merely to “improve the state of the world.”Intel became a strategic partner to WEF in 2006 as a natural adjunct to our increased focus on global education and the World Ahead program. The Davos experience can be pretty overwhelming at first. The day typically begins at 7:00 with a wide selection of public and private breakfasts where delegates gather to discuss specific problems, to plan future programs, or just to network and scope out business opportunities. The main program starts about 8:30 at the Congress Center, a massive building in the middle of town commissioned exclusively for the Forum’s annual meeting. At any given time during the day there are upwards of 30 separate sessions underway. This smorgasbord of meetings can run at least through dinner, and for some on to midnight. Then the next day everyone gets up and starts the process again. The scope of the agenda at Davos is hard to summarize. Of particular interest to Intel are is global education, the role of technology in changing the fate of under-developed countries; corruption and its impact on global business; climate change; the politics of the middle-east and business risk factors associated with geopolitical instability; intellectual property; trade; and a dozen other topics. We divide up the focus for maximum coverage between Craig Barrett and myself, along with Will Swope who is the vice-president of our Corporate Affairs Group and Brenda Musili who is president of our Intel Foundation. And we bring along a staff team of 4 to keep the wheels from falling off the wagon. By Sunday morning – day 4 and the end of the event – everyone will be beat and ready to get some serious sleep. Hopefully Intel will have been a relevant contributor to the debate and demonstrated how governments and private industry can catalyze improvements in education, healthcare and access to ICT in emerging markets. I’ll try to get in another blog before I fall asleep on the way down the hill on Sunday and let you all know how it went.
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