This week, the first Tech4Democracy Venture Day was held at the IE Tower in Madrid, with the presence of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand. The Prime Minister delivered a keynote stressing that it is the duty of democratic governments to realize human rights and people’s long-term wellbeing through the constructive use of digital technologies.
“For those of us who remain optimistic about a pluralistic and open internet, you can count on New Zealand’s support in mobilising a global community for action and helping to do what democracies do best – to give a platform to the brightest ideas, to adapt and flex to the challenges we face, and to work together to overcome them.”
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister
Prime Minister Ardern was introduced by IE University CEO Diego del Alcázar Benjumea, who emphasized that “universities have a crucial role to play in global issues, as places of encounter among different stakeholders and exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of complete freedom and respect for disagreement.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter (CEO of New America and Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University) engaged in a conversation with IE University Provost Manuel Muñiz. Provost Muñiz stated: “How we govern emerging technologies will determine our future. If we want more resilient democracies we need to understand and shape how technology evolves. This is why a project like Tech4Democracy is so important.”
Tech4Democracy is a global initiative by IE University in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, with Microsoft as its main strategic supporter.
White House Special Assistant to the President Rob Berschinski highlighted that “it’s imperative that technology be built, deployed, used, and governed in ways that reaffirm democratic values and protect human rights. That is why Advancing Technology for Democracy is a key pillar of the Summit for Democracy and why we are delighted to support the Tech4Democracy initiative.”
Six European startups developing digital solutions that advance democratic values (such as liberty, equality, inclusion, privacy, and transparency) competed at the Tech4Democracy Venture Day Madrid, and Citibeats was selected as the winner. Citibeats (Spain) is a scaleup with the first Artificial Intelligence specialized in active listening of citizens, and the only one yet created specifically to work within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its platform makes it possible to enhance civic engagement, improve citizen participation, and maximize social impact in cities.
The Tech4Democracy event also included a panel with Jeremy Cliffe (Writer at Large, The New Statesman), Daniel Innerarity (Chair, Artificial Intelligence and Democracy, European University Institute), and Amy Larsen, (Director, Democracy Forward, Microsoft), moderated by Irene Blázquez, Director of the Center for the Governance of Change at IE University.
As part of Tech4Democracy, IE University will also run Venture Days in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa to identify the most promising democracy-affirming startups on each continent. A Venture Day is planned this year in New York (September) and in Bogotá(October). A final global Venture Day with the five continental winners is planned to be held in the lead up to President Biden’s second Summit for Democracy.
Tech4Democracy is a global initiative by IE University, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, to support entrepreneurs that develop democracy-affirming technologies. Connected with President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, Tech4Democracy’s purpose is to mobilize democratic governments, the private sector, and civil society to defend democracy today and safeguard it for future generations. Microsoft is IE University’s main strategic supporter on this initiative.