Richard Attias, CEO of the Future Investment Initiative Institute, said that the Institute seeks to create a journey of realistic solutions to help humanity through an innovative work model that promotes the concept of dialogue to achieve impact, noting that the Institute is currently focusing on 5 main areas.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Attias clarified that the priority of the Future Investment Initiative Institute lies in providing tangible facts and figures to humanity, explaining that it is in the process of launching several indicators to help government policymakers and the private sector move in the right direction.
He pointed out in the dialogue that the fifth edition of the Future Investment Initiative conference will be held in October, which will be the first international gathering with an actual presence since February 2020, pointing out that the focus will be on the most important topics for the benefit of humanity.
The CEO of the Future Investment Initiative Institute touched on the vision of the initiative after its transformation into an institution, its working mechanism, the importance of holding the conference at the post-Covid 19 stages, and other topics in the following dialogue:
* After transforming the Future Investment Initiative Conference into the Future Investment Initiative Institute, what role can the Institute play in the creative movement, and the actual shift that enables it to transform the positive idea into a reality under the slogan “Impact On Humanity”?
The world today is very different from what it was a few months ago. We live in a state of complete uncertainty, which creates opportunities but at the same time raises many fears. Many countries do not even know whether their borders will remain open in a few weeks or months. In addition, there are companies that do not know whether business will be okay or not, despite the benefit of some technology and stock companies from the crisis of “Covid-19” pandemic. At the same time, as the world began to open up and recover a little, we saw retail companies - for example - begin to flourish again. However, with the new virus mutation that has emerged over the past period, we are facing the same problems. I mention this because during times of uncertainty, which happen almost periodically, it becomes very important to think about how we can help humanity, assist those in need, support entrepreneurs and innovators, and those trying to find solutions. This is why we decided to create a highly innovative Foundation, such as the Future Investment Initiative Institute (FII), under the concept of a global not-for-profit organization. It will be a new generation of institutions working in several important areas, under one agenda: humanity. When proceeding with the work of the Institute, the question can be: What can we do for humanity? What can we do in Saudi Arabia or in the region or the world?
In response, we need to take important and comprehensive action, bringing together talents and brilliant minds from around the world and nurturing them, transforming their ideas into realistic solutions. Therefore, we decided to focus at the moment on five main areas of work, namely, Artificial Intelligence, as it will change our way of life, and Robotics that can come up with great solutions for humanity. The third area is Education, which can be the most influential starting from today, especially that we have thousands and millions of children are still unable to access education, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is why do they not have access to education? Because it is now done via the Internet. If you do not have a connection in the Internet, and a computer, how can you get education via the Internet? Therefore, there's a whole generation of kids that won't have access to an education, so it's important that we look at what we can do for them. Fourth, Healthcare, and finally Sustainability represented in the need to take care of our planet.
*These are the five areas in which the Institute wants to have an impact. How is that?
One rule can shorten the executive pillars of the Institute (THINK, XCHANGE, and ACT quickly). The "think" pillar is achieved by bringing together brilliant minds and attempt to find enlightened ideas. Accordingly, we will issue many studies, surveys and indicators. The second pillar is the concept of "xchange", by collecting these ideas together, and discussing them in conferences, summits and events to reach results. Finally, the "act" pillar, which is the most important thing that distinguishes the institution from others, by investing in great projects, which can be pioneering in the future within our five areas of interest. We also believe, in all modesty, that the Future Investment Initiative Institute is now in the right place and time.
*What is the vision of the new Institute in the next stage?
Our priorities lie in practical orientations, through the question: How can we be action-oriented? We need to present some tangible facts and figures to humanity. Therefore, we are launching several indicators to understand this, as it will help government policy makers and the private sector to move in the right direction. For example, if a president or a global leader realizes, thanks to these indicators, that his healthcare system is weak or inaccurate, then this information from the indicators will help him allocate more budget to the private healthcare sector, and compare that to other countries and government initiatives.
Therefore, in the next three months, our priorities are to launch multiple studies and indicators, and publish various reports and surveys, which will have an impact on decision-making. Incidentally, our reports are called "Impact". In addition, we seek to host talks and conferences, with a focus on actual attendance. This is what we hope for during our next event in September in New York, which will be focused on "Health", that will be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, where we will host for three hours of conversations distinguished experts from the private sector and many more decision makers, to understand what we can do for the future of medicine and vaccines. You see, in the past nine months, the world was able to produce five or six vaccines. But we also need to know how to improve the process of vaccination, research and development to combat any negative development, which needs more money, thus we help in any aspects that need to spend that money. In addition, this pillar will be discussed, along with other important topics, during our annual meeting coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Future Investment Initiative Conference, entitled "Investing in Humanity", that will be launched next October.
I remember that last January, we sent a message to the world that we are completely optimistic about seeing recovery in 2021, where we will feel that recovery in many sectors. We were not at all wrong, because tourism returned in many sectors. Today, we are not in the same situation as we were before. Many sectors are starting to work well, but in order to achieve the concept of sustainability, it is necessary to find solutions and invest in humanity in the long term. We need to invest in water, technology, sustainability, food and agriculture. These are the main topics that we will be discussing as well, next October to make sure that we deliver a real work. Our priorities for the next three months are to be innovators of great ideas and to be the first platform where people actually come face to face.
*We hope to obtain more details and information on how to achieve the vision through the three executive pillars of the institution: Think, Xchange and Act; How can these pillars be used to implement your vision?
Our vision is how to help our humanity, as our agenda and our mission to support the vision of the Institute is precisely to be creative in supporting great ideas. We are not just theorists, we think to implement!! As for the vision of the Three Pillars, the THINK Pillar serves as an intellectual center that seeks to establish multiple partnerships and real tangible agreements, with universities and various scientific and research institutions in Europe, Africa, the United States and soon Asia and the rest of the world. We will try to work together to achieve multiple ideas and projects based on the principles of environmental, social governance (ESG) that should be always kept in mind. As for XCHANGE Pillar, it is responsible for creating platforms for discussions, conferences and interactive summits that highlight the Institute as a dialogue maker, and not just an organizer of events. Through this pillar, we activate the principle of inclusiveness and openness, especially for the youth of the world. We in the Institute support them, help them, and give them access to information, knowledge and funding by supporting some projects and including them in global discussions. Why should we work for the next generation, if this generation is not a part of our discussions today?
We believe that nothing can be resolved without dialogue, from peace to jobs to gender equality, and other topics. We did this during the Covid-19 pandemic by organizing virtual conferences that contributed to creating effective discussions with a positive impact. This is what we will also do in New York, by carrying out a hybrid event, and what we will also do in Riyadh during the fifth version of the Future Investment Initiative conference.
As for the ACT pillar, I would like to say that one of the most important features of the institute is investment in emerging projects within the five famous areas of interest of the institute, namely Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Education, Sustainability, and Health care. Therefore, we have in the Institute an investment committee, which works as a commercial company or a venture capital company, it selects eligible projects, studies and evaluates them, before investing in them through an amount that supports them for launching, ranging between half a million and two million dollars. We have already invested in four interesting projects.
*We are talking about five areas that the institution focuses on: Sustainability, Healthcare, Education, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics; Why focus on these areas?
It is well known that the Future Investment Initiative Institute was established by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, whom I quote from his speech when I had the privilege to meet his Royal Highness with His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of FII Institute at the beginning of the idea of the Future Investment Initiative, He defined it as the place where people from all over the world should come to know where and how money should be invested in terms of geography and sectors. There are many beneficial and successful fields and investments that achieve this concept, therefore, during the previous sessions of the conference, and through all the discussions and dialogues that took place, we were able to extract the most important current and future areas of interest to humanity and the world. We included them within the Institute’s strategy when it was established in 2019. Thus, we can say that the establishment of the institute, its strategy and its fields of work are nothing but a product and a conclusion of effective dialogues for the world's most important minds and personalities, including heads of states, scientists, thinkers, CEOs and businessmen.
*The Fifth Future Investment Initiative Conference, to be held under the title “Investing in Humanity”, what is new about this session? What inspires you? what is your ambition? And what do you want to achieve?
The 5th Edition Anniversary of the conference is likely to be the first international gathering with actual attendance since February 2020. We already have more than 200+ international speakers and more than 1200+ international participants, who have confirmed their attendance to Riyadh. We are working closely with the Ministry of Health, airlines and logistics companies to ensure that all aspects of attendance are subject to health procedures and precautions, as one of our priorities is to create an appropriate and healthy environment, ensuring the safety of all participants.
About what would be different? The first difference is the actual attendance of this session. The other thing is that we will focus on the most important issues for the benefit of humanity, with the support of sovereign wealth funds, stock companies, major companies, and well-known family offices in important areas of investment, such as health care, sustainability, education, technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics, provided that their outcomes are positive and for the benefit of all humanity. Many other interactive summits will take place discussing needed and important topics like : Into the Metaverse, Hybrid Learning, ESG and others.
The advantage of this session, therefore, is that it is the first major international gathering with one agenda: Humanity.
During these session, we will not only talk about oil and its future, or the future of energy, or manufacturing, or the future of cars, our agenda will be: What can we do for our people and for all the people of the world? Especially after the great suffering from the "Covid-19" pandemic, which has not yet ended. We are in the stage of reshaping and adjusting everything. We just have to learn from what happened, avoid and improve it, especially since the whole world has undergone and will undergo change, with regard to many things, such as work, travel, education, and health. For example, in the field of media that you are a part of, it will not be possible to follow news in the same way as before. You will need to double-check the information, because we used to live in the world of fake news. At the moment, we cannot believe anything we hear or see. We need to get the situation under control, because if you give false news about a vaccine or a pandemic, you are creating panic in the world. Therefore, everyone must be responsible and accountable.
We try to be responsible and accountable in the Institute, with regard to the ESG principles, because we care about our humanity. This is very important. It is our mission that we are committed to. We do not see our job as just a job, as well as all of our colleagues, we view the job as an important goal, and this should be noted to the work team in the Institute, that wonderful team of distinguished competencies and cumulative experiences in multiple sectors, such as finance, investment, legal, academic work, international relations, communication and public relations. All of us in the institute work tirelessly, because we want to have a tangible legacy and this is the most important thing; This legacy is to wake up one day and say: We have done something good for our humanity; Yes it is that simple!
*The convening of this huge international event comes after the "Covid-19" pandemic, what is the important thing about that?
I would like to emphasize that the event comes during the coronavirus pandemic, because we are still in the middle of it, to discuss what is the vision of world leaders? And what did they learn from what happened? It's not just about us, but what world leaders and CEOs have learned from the Covid-19 crisis. We surveyed more than a hundred global CEOs, and we've learned from the past 18 months, that they should listen more. The world is changing drastically and we need to be more open. So, to answer your question, I feel personally for the first time, that FII 5th Edition Anniversary conference, is not just an event, we have a mission , namely to do everything possible to make these open talks and dialogues successful. Therefore, we'll look for the best academics, top researchers, thinkers and activists, the best global businessmen and CEOs; We need government leaders, policy makers, public figures, and innovators, to get the desired results.
As you know, FII 5th Edition this year will come amid global events, including climate conferences and others, which means that we will be at the heart of global talks and dialogue. Therefore, I invite everyone to join us, for those who want to be part of the rule change of the stage, with a view to reach the best results.