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Addressing the Innovation Paradox: How can Developing Countries Move Closer to the Technological Frontier?

October 12, 2017

International Finance Corporation auditorium, 2121 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037


  • Innovation can boost incomes, jobs, and economic growth significantly. However, developing countries do surprisingly little when it comes to adopting advanced-country experience to upgrading their products, technologies, and business processes. This event during the World Bank Group Annual Meetings in Washington, DC  will bring together diverse perspectives to discuss the challenge of low innovation and weak capabilities in developing countries and propose new approaches to boost innovation in these environments.

    This session will be open to a global audience of Ministers, top officials from member countries, private sector executives and media.

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    Danny Leipziger


    Mr. Leipziger is the Managing Director of the Growth Dialogue and a former Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM). He provided strategic leadership and direction to Regional PREM units as well as groups working on economic policy formulation in the area of growth and poverty, debt, trade, gender, and public sector management and governance. Additional Bank assignments included Director for Finance, Private Sector and Infrastructure in the Latin America and Caribbean Region and managerial assignments at the World Bank Institute and in the East Asia and Pacific Region of the Bank. Mr. Leipziger, a Ph. D. in economics from Brown University, has written extensively on development economics and finance.


    Ahmed El Alfi

    Founder & Chairman, Sawari Ventures

    Named one of the most creative people in the world by Fast Company, Ahmed El Alfi has been an early/growth stage investor for the past 30 years. Alfi founded Hybrid Capital Partners in 1990, a private investment partnership, which funded, grew and exited several successful companies. In 2010 Alfi founded Sawari Ventures a Cairo based VC firm that aims to transform MENA economies through funding technology based companies. In 2011 Sawari created Flat6Labs, MENA's leading accelerator, with offices in Cairo, Jeddah, Beirut, Tunisia and Abu Dhabi, and opening soon in Bahrain and Morocco, seeding over 130 startups to date. Also founded Nafham, the top Arabic online video educational platform covering the Egyptian, Saudi, Syrian, Kuwaiti and Algerian public school curricula, providing over 85 million free lessons to over 700,000 monthly students. TATP, founded in 2013, took over half of the American University in Cairo's Tahrir Square campus to form the GrEEK Campus; a 25,000 square meter office park where over 130 startups work and collaborate.


    Caroline Freund

    Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute

    Caroline Freund has been a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics since May 2013. Prior to that she was chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, after working for nearly a decade in the international trade unit of the research department at the World Bank. She has also worked in the research departments of the International Monetary Fund and the international finance division of the Federal Reserve Board. Freund’s research examines international trade, trade policy, and economic growth. She is the author of Rich People Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging Market Tycoons and their Mega Firms. She has published many articles on the effects of regional trade agreements and edited a volume on The WTO and Reciprocal Preferential Trading Agreements. Her work has appeared in academic journals, including: American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of International Economics, and Journal of Development Economics. Freund was a member of the EXIM Bank advisory committee from 2014 to 2016. She is on the scientific committees of CEPII (Institute for Research of the International Economy, Paris) and the Economic Research Forum (Cairo), is a member of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, and on the editorial board of the journal Economics and Politics. She received a PhD in economics from Columbia University.


    Christopher MacLennan

    Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Issues and Development, Global Affairs Canada

    Christopher MacLennan is currently the Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Issues and Development at Global Affairs Canada. In this role, he leads on Canada’s development assistance efforts through multilateral and global partners, humanitarian assistance and priority thematic policy issues such as the empowerment of women and girls, health and education and green economic growth. Mr. MacLennan also serves as Canada’s G7 foreign affairs sous-sherpa, working closely with Peter M. Boehm, Deputy Minister for the G7 Summit and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister. Mr. MacLennan has served as acting Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Priorities and Planning and ADM of Policy Innovation at the Privy Council Office. Prior to PCO, Mr. MacLennan was Director General for Health and Nutrition at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). Mr. MacLennan led the team that organized the Prime Minister’s Saving Every Woman, Every Child Summit on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) in 2014. This work followed on his previous work for the G8 Muskoka Initiative on MNCH in 2010. Mr. MacLennan holds a Ph.D. from Western University specializing in constitutional development and international human rights and has numerous publications including Toward the Charter: Canadians and the Demand for a National Bill of Rights, 1929-1960. Mr. MacLennan holds a Ph.D. from Western University specializing in constitutional development and international human rights and has numerous publications including Toward the Charter: Canadians and the Demand for a National Bill of Rights, 1929-1960.


    William Maloney

    Chief Economist, Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions

    William F. Maloney is Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the World Bank Group. Previously he was Chief Economist for Trade and Competitiveness and Global Lead on Innovation and Productivity. Prior to the Bank, he was a Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1990-1997) and then joined, working as Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America until 2009. From 2009 to 2014, he was Lead Economist in the Development Economics Research Group. From 2011 to 2014 he was Visiting Professor at the University of the Andes and worked closely with the Colombian government on innovation and firm upgrading issues. Mr. Maloney received his PhD in economics from the University of California Berkeley (1990), his BA from Harvard University (1981), and he studied at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia (1982-83). He has published on issues related to international trade and finance, developing country labor markets, and innovation and growth as well as several flagship publications of the Latin American division of the Bank, including Informality: Exit and Exclusion. Most recently, he published The innovation paradox: Developing Country Capabilities and the Unrealized Potential of Technological Catch-Up. In addition to publications in academic journals, he coauthored Natural Resources: Neither Curse nor Destiny and Lessons from NAFTA, Does What you Export Matter: In Search of Empirical Guidance for Industrial Policy, as well as several flagship publications of the Latin American division of the Bank, most recently Informality: Exit and Exclusion.


  • DATE: October 12, 2017
  • TIME: 9:30 -11:00 AM EDT
  • LOCATION: International Finance Corporation Auditorium, 2121 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
  • CONTACT: Rebecca Post