In brief, our founder and CEO is Eric van der Kleij, a pioneering technology entrepreneur who founded FinTech company Adeptra (sold to NYSE FICO.) In February 2011 he was appointed by the UK Prime Minister as Chief Executive of the UK’s Tech City initiative, after which he created Level39, one of the largest Fintech and Smart City hubs in Europe.
Eric gained hands-on entrepreneurial experience in launching, raising seed funding, pivoting, restarting, and finally building and selling Adeptra. He was appointed by a David Cameron to help create the strategy for and become the first Chief Executive of the UK’s Tech City initiative created by 10 Downing Street. After establishing the Tech City organisation he moved to Canary Wharf in 2012 where he created and led Europe’s largest FinTech and Smart City hub Level39 for real estate giant Canary Wharf Group.
His current engagements are as Chairman of the Advisory Group and Adviser for FinTech and Blockchain for the Global Entrepreneur Programme at the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, and he is also Special Adviser to clients such as the Swiss Kickstart Accelerator in Zurich. He is a volunteer member of the Tech London Advocates Advisory Board.
These are perfectly encapsulated when we say: “For Opportunity, For Society.” This means we will help corporates and startups figure out how to take advantage of these technologies, while at the same time using our expertise to run custom Digital Insight Challenges to help government and society learn how to cope and thrive with the changes. We will be demonstrating this in custom centres we’re establishing in five countries over the next three years.
HOW DO WE WORK?
Our view is that technology should be a servant, not a master, of the Digital Revolution, or as some would call it, the Fourth, or Modern Industrial Revolution. The combination of next generation technology such as enhanced computing, machine learning, communications, cyber, robotics and big data technologies (amongst others) are enabling us to do things that were science fiction until recently, from allowing paraplegics to walk to self-driving cars, or using artificial intelligence to upskill workers faster than ever before. (That last one is a technology we’re supporting at C4DR, by the way.)
We’re creating custom “Opportunity Programmes” to capture emerging breakthroughs in the application of four key technologies of the future – Artificial Intelligence, robotics, Blockchain and the Internet of Things. Our goal is to invite innovators and startups to join us in themed programmes and we will help turn them into viable businesses. These aren’t the run of the mill 12 week “cookie cutter” accelerators of old. Each programme is co-created with the sponsor and custom designed to meet the goals of the partner. They could be one week, one year or even a decade! This is a revolution in programme design itself and will be shaped to reflect the goals and attributes of our partners and of each city we set up in.
The digital transformation of industries from money to music to media has some giants genuinely concerned for the future. So we’ve created a corporate foundry to help them stay future-ready. It will offer access to digital skills through our global portfolio of companies operating in our four technology pillars, as well as in-house C4DR expertise. For those ready to go the distance, C4DR can also help co-create a company’s most deadly competitor. This, we’ve shown, will open new business opportunities. We co-invest with corporates sharing risk and rewards, which focused all involved on success.
DIGITAL INSIGHT CHALLENGES
Many people fear the Digital Revolution will destroy more jobs than it creates. This stems from previous revolutions, where machines powered by steam, then electricity, then silicon replaced workers who had to figure out what to do.
At C4DR we believe the Digital Revolution doesn’t need to repeat the mistakes of the past and we can be better prepared to face new challenges. When machines or robots replace jobs, as they will, we should know how to help manage that transition in a sustainable way, that could genuinely liberate people to do something equally valuable or even more interesting. Letting people who were once productive stand idle is not only incredibly inefficient, it is devastating to the individual and we aim to help head this off with our our Insight challenges.
We are creating an open, digital think tank which our research and insight team will use to help governments and corporates avoid wasted human capital. Whether it’s an industry that feels under threat, or a part of society that needs to up-skill, we will harness new learning technologies and ideas from the wider community through our Insight Challenges. For example using next generation learning technology we’re supporting the development of training methods that can up-skill people fast, and prepare them for two or three careers throughout a lifetime. Winning challenge ideas will be sponsored into Foundry projects, where we will build and test the digital solutions that will help address these challenges.