Last week, PC giant HP and UNESCO announced a big expansion of their 'Brain Gain Initiative' in the Middle East and Africa. The program provides universities with equipment, training and support to foster collaboration with experts worldwide on innovative projects via grid and cloud computing. The program is expected to grow from five universities to 20 this year, with 100 higher-education institutions projected to be enrolled by 2011. The program's backers believe that extending advanced computing resources to university students will empower them to stay in their home countries.
This project highlights the way in which multinational corporations are taking a growing interest in the development of human capital in emerging markets. In recent months, executives from companies such as GE, IBM and Intel have discussed the 'internationalization' of their research and development strategies. Corporations are investing in research and innovation centers in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil to capitalize on expanding local economies, qualified engineering and science graduates, and highly-skilled migrants returning home. Better protections for intellectual property globally and restrictions on immigration in many developed countries have added momentum to these trends.
These developments have major implications for both individual companies and entire nations. Developed nations will find their position as knowledge leaders challenged. And as emerging markets grow, companies can increasingly tap these nations' minds as well as their markets for competitive growth. Firms that find ways to partner with local research institutions and other incubators will be poised to capitalize on new sources of innovation potential.
In the coming months, Vital Wave Consulting will be conducting original research on the globalization of intellectual capital. Stay tuned for further insights.