4 minute read 11 Jan 2021
doctors examining x rays in video conference

How collaboration is leading to new innovation in emerging markets

By Carmine Di Sibio

EY Global Chairman and CEO

Passionate about clients and the power of the global EY organization. Driver of growth and innovation. Relationship builder. Sports fan.

4 minute read 11 Jan 2021

Emerging technologies are presenting emerging markets with new opportunities to innovate.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen nationalist rhetoric make headway into mainstream politics and fragmentation has been a big topic in the media and among leaders of business and institutions, as it is at this year’s World Economic Forum. Discussions have often focused on the impact of stronger borders on trade and migration, but we shouldn’t overlook globalization as a continuing force driving innovation. More and more, emerging markets are leading the way setting partnerships to drive transformative innovation.

Technologies, such as cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, are laying the foundation for a whole new wave of disruption, which is dramatically altering how business is conducted and how governments serve citizens. New applications of these technologies represent the promise of unprecedented disruptive innovations, where no geography and industry will remain untouched. Business communities around the world are rethinking the way to fuel the next wave of new ideas, new businesses and new markets.

I’m a firm believer that technology will continue to draw the world closer together. The implementation of new, disruptive technologies is requiring stronger collaboration – be it between the public and private sectors, developed and developing countries, corporates and start-ups. Some very exciting examples are coming from emerging markets – what is allowing them to break new ground?

Open source movements are enabling faster adoption

Until recently, many innovations had been fueled by a few disconnected pockets of entrepreneurial activity, limiting speedy, large-scale adoption. Today, there are a growing number of collaborations by big and small companies around the globe openly sharing their technologies and ideas that spur faster innovation and wider adoption.

Open source movements such as Hyperledger are making it possible to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, and its members include organizations from all continents. OpenAI are leading the way to useful applications of AI, encouraging its researchers to publish their work, papers, code and share their patents with the world.

As more entrepreneurs around the globe gain access to these technologies and combine their talents with others, the faster these technologies will develop and spread, accelerating exponentially the pace of innovation, development and adoption of AI, blockchain and automation.

Emerging markets are a hotbed for disruptive innovation

Beyond economic growth, the greatest value of innovation in the emerging markets is its ability to create prosperity, social equality and a stronger foothold in the global economy. Emerging markets enjoy three distinct advantages for adopting new technologies compared with developed economies:

  1. They likely won’t have to upend existing costly infrastructure or deeply embedded legacy systems.
  2. They have huge young populations that are very digitally savvy, have a real thirst to embrace change and are open to experiment and implement these technologies.
  3. Their governments are playing a key role. While the private sector in mature markets tends to drive innovation, governments in emerging markets are actively partnering and supporting entrepreneurial efforts in new technologies as a way to nurture local talent and skills. The SIDBI Startup Mitra (India) and the US$5 billion fund to support the AI industry set up by the government of Tianjin (China), are great examples. Public/private sector collaboration is giving entrepreneurs room to experiment and grow.

Attracting international expertise

Entrepreneurs, businesses and governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America are implementing radical innovations by partnering with organizations from the developed world.

For example, the government of Rwanda worked with a Silicon Valley–based robotics firm and local hospitals to launch the world’s first national drone delivery system, which will be used to deliver blood to patients in remote areas of the country. Hospitals can order blood via text message and have it parachuted to their location in an average of 15 minutes, eliminating the need for onboard refrigeration or insulation. This project’s most important advantage is it has cut down in the time taken in delivering blood supplies to the hospitals saving lives and resources.

The Real Estate Registry Office in Brazil has worked with a US East Coast-based startup to develop a blockchain-based land management system that allows people to register property ownership online, alleviating the dependence on government bureaucracy to guarantee property rights and confirm transactions. This will help to demonstrate to government municipalities the power and benefits of using blockchain-powered recordkeeping. Furthermore, any ownership and title disputes can now be handled in a fair and transparent fashion.

A bright future for emerging markets… and the world

These examples and many others demonstrate a renewed sense of hope that the inherent attributes that inspire innovation – collaboration, openness, inclusiveness and diversity – still hold true and will push pass a world of political uncertainty.

Innovation does not happen in a vacuum – collaboration is at the heart of truly transformative innovation. In order to continue to thrive, it is critical that governments in emerging markets continue to:

  • Progress integration with the global economy to attract investments and expertise.
  • Improve the tax, legal and regulatory environment to protect intellectual property rights for innovators to realize the benefit of their inventions.
  • Engage with the startup communities to experiment with disruptive technologies to provide government services more efficiently and effectively.
  • Identify, promote and invest in initiatives that will contribute to inclusive growth, driving social progress.

EY wavespace is a highly connected global network of growth and innovation centers in some of the most well-recognized innovation cities. Join us at EY wavespace to explore innovative ideas that will help you successfully navigate the Transformative Age.


Emerging markets are a hotbed for disruptive innovation. Organizations around the world should follow their lead to drive inclusive growth.

About this article

By Carmine Di Sibio

EY Global Chairman and CEO

Passionate about clients and the power of the global EY organization. Driver of growth and innovation. Relationship builder. Sports fan.