I usually come back from WEF events with lots of stories to share and a great new view of the world. This year however I had no time to get to a single session (well, other than 20 minutes in a Gordon Brown impressive presentation on the state of the world - the man is the most cerebral leader I have ever seen).
The general conversation around us buzzed regarding the announcement in Israel, with many participants from around the world asking us how to get the project replicated to their own country. There is a tremendous amount of good will towards project Better Place, and all people wished us the best of success and offered help with whatever we needed. The articles from around the world, in particular the New York Times article (or as most Europeans called it the IHT article, which is the same only under a different name) set the tone for all car, environment and oil discussions at the conference. Towards the end of the event we started getting feedback regarding the amazing BusinessWeek article, written by Steve Hamm, who was at Davos with us this year.
We had a very interesting panel moderated by Peter Schwartz of GBN where he brought together the entire supply chain for a virtual oil field. We started with Mike Splinter, Applied Material's CEO, who talked about solar panels and their very interesting business model of building the tools for the makers, much like they did with silicon used for consumer electronics. He predicted a cost of $0.70/W pre-installation, which in my opinion will tip the power generation market. (I probably need to run a post on that side of our solution framework - the clean generation side). He was followed by Prof. Yet-Ming Chiang, who is the founder of A123 Systems - the leader in LiFePO4 batteries. Prof Chiang is a great inventor who has worked on a number of material science issues - including one that will be key in the future - super conductivity. I followed up with a presentation that tied the generation and batteries together on "how to build a virtual oil field", which got me a few friendly jests from Peter, but I brought some support from my friend Geoff Moore, all members of the great secret tradition of Davos - the Geek dinner.
Interesting twist to the discussion was provided by Craig Venter - of Human Genome sequencing fame. Craig is sequencing thousands of living organisms around the planet which he finds in the oceans, looking for the best energy conversion mechanism. His hope is to find the most optimized way nature converts CO2 and sunlight into chemical bonds, make those chemical leftovers float to the surface as a collectable gas and generate a living refinery that can make liquid/gas energy by use of "living solar collectors". The question that was left unanswered was posed by Peter - whether the physicists or the biologists will solve the energy problem for all of us. I believe the problem is so large that all scientists will have their place in he sun (pun-intended).
Apart from that, I had the most amazing time to be together with my fellow YGLs. What an impressive group of people, so focused on making the world a better place. More important though is the spirit of friendship that this group created and maintains over the years. Whenever two YGLs crossed paths in Davos you could hear the greetings miles away, and if you saw two grown up people hug each other, it must be a couple of YGL men greeting after a few months of not seeing each other. Definitely a very different crew than the usual, serious and business like behavior around Davos. For all of you wanting to learn more about the YGLs and their amazing life stories, there is a bit of good news - one of my friends in the forum, John Hope Bryant is writing a book which will have a lot of these stories in it, but I will not give up the spoiler too early!