Meridian and Digital Diplomacy Coalition Convene on Foreign Policy and Innovation

His Excellency Dr. Neil Parsan, Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, shares his country’s successes with entrepreneurship
His Excellency Dr. Neil Parsan, Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, shares his country’s successes with entrepreneurship

On November 18, 2014, Meridian in partnership with the Digital Diplomacy Coalition hosted a panel discussion, Can Foreign Policy Foster Innovation and Entrepreneurship? as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is the world’s largest celebration of innovators that occurs one week each November through local, national and global activities. Joining us for the early morning session were local entrepreneurs, Coexist Coffee and Bullfrog Bagels, which created “pop-ups” to bring their terrific coffee and bagels to Meridian—and program attendees.

Bonnie Glick, Meridian’s Senior Vice President of GlobalConnect, kicked off the morning program with welcome remarks, before introducing Lona Stoll, Acting Executive Director of USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab. Ms. Stoll highlighted the role of the USAID’s Global Development Lab in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship while attempting to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. In discussing the Global Development Lab’s evidence-based open development approach to produce breakthrough development innovations, Ms. Stoll underscored the importance of engaging problem solvers from across the world, promoting new and deepening existing partnerships, bringing data and evidence to bear, and harnessing scientific and technological advances. She stated that USAID, through the Global Development Lab, is working with private sector partners in co-creating a sustainable future for people around the world.

The well-attended gathering featured a stimulating discussion on the challenges in fostering entrepreneurship and the opportunities for U.S. foreign policy to make a difference in this space, which was moderated by J.D. Harrison, Reporter and Digital Editor of The Washington Post. Joining Mr. Harrison on the panel were featured speakers H.E. Dr. Neil Parsan, Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to the U.S., Christopher Schroeder, Entrepreneur and Venture Investor, and Adam Zuckerman, Founder of Fosterly, a community of entrepreneurs, creators, and collaborators. The conversation centered on the importance of immigration reform, access to capital, data and information sharing, and public-private partnerships in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and on the critical role of both the public sector and the private sector in supporting entrepreneurs to bring new ideas to development interventions.

Before opening the discussion more widely, Mr. Harrison called on select members of the audience to share remarks—including H.E. Roman Macaya, the newly arrived Ambassador of Costa Rica (and entrepreneur), local business owner Warren Brown of Cake Love, and Shelly Porges, currently Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Georgetown University and formerly with State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program, who reminded us to remember the importance of women in entrepreneurship and that entrepreneurship isn’t all about technology. These remarks were followed by a Q&A session with the audience which ranged from members of the diplomatic community, to entrepreneurs and investors, and foreign policy wonks.

Scott Nolan Smith, Co-Founder and Board Member of the Digital Diplomacy Coalition, shared closing remarks and thanked all of the speakers and participants, along with the attendees. The program was a part of the Insights at Meridian series, which is supported by The Walter and Isabel Cutler Endowment for Global Understanding.

Follow this link for coverage of the panel discussion in The Washington Post.

For a timeline recap of the event on Twitter, click here.


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