China, space tech, and entrepreneurship [Davos day one summary]

January 18, 2017 Tradeshift Editorial Team

Tradeshift Sanctuary 2017

As Davos woke up to a frigid morning on opening day, the state of global trade quickly took hold as the hottest issue alongside the global political landscape and economic inequality and uncertainty. (Not to mention Shakira’s Crystal Award). But not everyone points to globalization as the cause for economic woes. There’s also a bright side brimming with opportunity.


Chinese president Xi Jingping noted in his World Economic Forum (WEF) keynote that economic globalization has, “facilitated commerce, advances in science, technology and civilization, and interactions among peoples spanning the globe.” It has connected us like never before. The new Silk Road, for instance, figuratively puts China next to Europe, and can unleash a wave of new cross-border trade that flies in the face of protectionism.

In the first of a series of panels hosted at the Tradeshift Sanctuary in Davos, Tradeshift experts shared their unique perspectives on China, drawn from the company’s four years of operating in the country. Mikkel Hippe Brun, SVP APAC and Co-founder, Tradeshift, shared a story about how his colleague Tradeshift CEO and Co-founder, Christian Lanng, saw a huge opportunity in China and said,“If we make one bet that bet should be China.” Watch the video below for the complete discussion:


Space tech

After the panel about global supply chains, it was time to venture out of this world. CEO and Co-founder of Planet Labs, Will Marshall, and ex-chief scientist at NASA, Ellen Stofan, joined Christian Lanng for a fascinating conversation about the latest trends in private and public sector space tech.

Stofan said the commercial space ventures are focusing on low earth orbit, opening up an opportunity for NASA and other space agencies worldwide to handle core exploration, such as manned missions to Mars. “NASA has plans to bring humans to Mars in the early 2030s, so that’s where the agency would like to put its focus on,” she said.

Lanng brought up the point that space exploration has been one of the most disruptive forces in terms of contributions to the technology world, with now many business cases supporting the burgeoning private sector.

The panel touched on various topics such data sharing, the cultural and mission shift at NASA, and how having many space agencies around the world can inspire a new generation of engineers, scientists, and explorers.

Marshall pointed out that the sudden decrease in the cost of sending payloads into orbit is a driver for the space boon. Another bigger trend is the miniaturization of technology. “It is incredible how fast changes are happening in the space industry. I have been in the industry for many years and a lot was not changing for a couple of decades, and suddenly a lot of things are taking off. And I think the majority of it is driven by the miniaturization of technology,” he said.

Space exploration and supply chains. Live from #davos #wef17 @christianlanng @tradeshift

— Vishal Patel (@VishalP_) January 17, 2017


Crack the code to extraordinary entrepreneurship

The panels concluded with a spirited session led by Amy Wilkinson, Stanford lecturer and a strategic advisor to startups and large corporations, with entrepreneurs who shared their journeys and challenges they’ve faced as they pursued their creative visions. Wilkinson largely pulled from her book Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs to frame the group’s discussion.

From left to right: Zack Bogue, Co-Managing Partner, Data Collective; Cori Lathan, CEO and founder, AnthroTronix; Rajiv Pant, CTO, Thrive Global; Sean Duffy, CEO and co-founder, Omada Health; Amy Wilkinson, Author & Lecturer, Stanford; Doug Evans, CEO and founder, Juicero.

About the Author

Tradeshift connects buyers, suppliers, and all their processes in one global network. We help you transform the way you work with suppliers today – and adapt to whatever the future brings.

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