In the wake of the current economic and financial crisis, it has become clear that technological innovation is a major, if not the driving force in economic growth. In this era of the DIGITAL REVOLUTION, the link between the digital economy and the GDP is now more obvious than ever. Economies that have invested more heavily in introducing R+D in key, productive sectors and that have understood the need to move towards a Society of Information, not only have suffered less during the economic and financial crisis. They are currently growing better and faster than all the rest. Yet, we need to ask ourselves if governments, society and private sector alike are doing the necessary, taking full advantage of the computing age and new technologies available to increase the output of our economies and, ultimately, to improve the living standards of our citizens.
The crucial question is neither technical nor financial. It is a strategic one, which ultimately has to do with the capacity of governments to understand the process and seize the moment, and the willingness take a decisive leap into the digital era. It is mostly a political issue. If an economy wants to be successfully on the global stage, government, business and civil society must take active steps. For the Spanish economy, the opportunities and challenges ahead in this new digital era are very much the same as everywhere else. In a moment when our Economy appears to be emerging at full throttle from one of the longest and deepest recessions it has ever suffered, the task ahead in R+D and insuring the competitiveness of it’s economy, because of historical contradictions, is surely enormous, but I am confident we are on the right track.
About the Speaker:
Born in Madrid (1944), Mr Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros is a lawyer and economist who has worked both for the public and the private sector. As a State economist he joined the Ministry of Trade in 1969 and was appointed in 1972 Commercial Counsellor of Spain for the US Midwest based in Chicago until 1976. He returned to Madrid as Commercial Director of Instituto Nacional de Industria (INI), the most important industrial group of Companies in Spain (including at that time firms like Endesa, Enagas, Iberia or Repsol).
He served as Executive Vicepresident of INI between 1979 and 1982, when he was appointed President and CEO of Iberia Airlines until 1985. In that year, he founded a consulting firm and was adviser to the European Community and NATO on programmes concerning the future of the military and aeronautical Industry. In 1988, he became CEO of Mercedes Benz Spain with the target of setting it up a competitive manufacturer and distributor, employing more than 6000 people. He retired from that position in 2009 after more than 20 years working for Mercedes Benz, Daimler and Chrysler.
For the last two decades he has served on different boards including CASA (part of Airbus), Uralita (construction materials), González Byass (wines and brandies), Yell UK (Directories) and Arcadis (Dutch engineering). At present he is on the Board of Acciona (construction and energy), Inditex (Zara, fashion), Schindler España (elevators) and Fraternidad (labor accidents coverage). He chaired both ANFAC, the cars and trucks manufacturers association, and OICA, the World Car Manufacturers Association, and was a member of IATA Executive Committee during the period he worked at Iberia.
A Professor of International Trade at ICADE, Business School, for several years, he has published a number of books and papers on management, international relations and other subjects.
In July 2012 Mr Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain, appointed Mr. Espinosa de los Monteros, as High Commissioner of the Government for Brand Spain with the main task of promoting the image of Spain abroad.