Allan Cannon, Co-Founder & CEO speaks about his time at Dubai Expo 2020:
I was recently lucky enough get the opportunity to travel to the United Arab Emirates to attend Dubai Expo 2020. My trip was supported by Scottish Development International, and the expo saw more than 24 million visits from 178 countries, providing me with the kind of inspiration which comes through networking with people from every corner of the globe. It became clear through my conversations that Krucial’s connectivity platform could contribute significantly to tackling some of society’s biggest challenges, from food security to tackling climate change.
I was given tours of facilities that will be crucial in innovating to overcoming global issues. These included the Masdar Institute, which researches sustainable technologies, and the Heriot Watt University Campus, a state-of-the-art facility illustrating just how much influence Scotland is having on technology and innovation across the world.
Being exposed to thinkers and technology from such a wide array of geographical, cultural and professional backgrounds was invaluable. Here are some of my key takeaways from the trip:
The issues being tackled are existential in nature
The problems being addressed at the Expo went beyond day-to-day comforts and were often existential in nature. During talks from key figures across the UAE, I learned about the difficulties being faced in the region around food security, the role aquaculture can play in tackling that, and the necessity for desalinization in a region with scarce water resources.
Our first event was a pitch to Greenbackers Investment Capital – as the name might suggest, this is ‘Venture Capital for Net Zero’, an organization which, in its own words, ‘is all about catalyzing the investment needed to build a more sustainable society’. We also pitched during Net Zero Day alongside companies such as Space Intelligence, Trade in Space, Intelligent Growth Solutions and D-Cat, attended by Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, and attended a Net Zero event alongside a host of Global Scots. Scottish businesses are at the forefront of innovations geared towards tackling climate change, and I was proud to be among some real game changers.
Technology is central to solving these problems – and everyone knows it
The UAE and wider region faces a huge challenge in managing water resources. A desert climate coupled with more extreme weather could have significant consequences on the people and businesses there, so to reduce water loss and improve sustainability, technological advances will be crucial. I attended the Water Business Forum while in Dubai, which featured talks from senior officials at DEWA (Dubai Energy and Water Authority), and the criticality of water resources was left in no uncertain terms.
The key takeaways were twofold – technology is pivotal for improving processes like desalinisation, on which the region relies, and focus will also continue to turn on to more efficient water management and loss reduction.
Digitising water systems, transitioning away from traditional oil and gas to more sustainable alternatives, better management of finite resources – all will require connectivity, more data, slicker processes and less waste. Reaching net zero is the goal, and those I met from the UAE and elsewhere in the world were clear that innovation will drive that effort. The pace of innovation and scale of ambition, especially in the UAE, is very exciting.
The Krucial solution will support efforts across the globe to tackle big issues
One thing you learn as a founder is that when people tell you they’re excited about the work you’re doing, want to keep in touch and be kept up to date – it’s not just to be polite.
There’s a reason our unique solution is catching the attention of such a wide variety of stakeholders. In order to digitise and solve the challenges being discussed, reliable and resilient connectivity isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Accessing data is essential, whether in the middle of a city or the middle of a desert. The knock-on effect of more data is a better understanding of resource usage, environmental impact and asset conditions.
People are excited about being able to leverage space technology: they’re aware of satellite constellations on orbit, but not how they can benefit. What we ask people all over the world to do is imagine a world where resilient digital services can be deployed anywhere, no matter the local infrastructure. This is as relevant for a water management system in Dubai as it is for a fish farm in Shetland.
To find solutions to global challenges, we need to work with people from all over the world. In my experience, there’s a consensus among people regardless of background – that reliable connectivity and access to data will play a huge role.