What we’ve learned from our 2022-2023 Fellows so far

June 27, 2023

Since August 2022, three Fellows and four Senior Fellows have participated in the Portulans Institute’s Fellowship Program, conducting research and producing content within our focus areas of innovation, technology, and global talent. Below we share some key takeaways from their work so far. 

The global landscape of network readiness is changing 

As Europe grappled with the effects of the COVID pandemic, the continent experienced a ‘digital migration’, with digital adoption among consumers jumping from 81% to 95%. However, differences can be noted in the respective readiness of some European regions compared to others. Senior Fellow Claudia Fini looks at technology access, affordability, trust, and skilling across Norther, Souther, and Eastern Europe.  

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is expected to reach $1 trillion by the end of the decade. The region has seen the rise of multi-service tech unicorns, in addition to being the second fastest growing region in the world in terms of Internet users. Kenddrick Chan analyzed opportunities for the region, as well as areas for improvement and remaining societal gaps.

While digital acceleration has been underway in Africa since the beginning of the last decade, significant divides persist, creating barriers to a holistic digital transformation of the continent. Raymond Onuoha highlights Africa’s most network-ready economies and the best practices they have implemented across regulation, access, and adoption, as a reflection point for other countries realizing the opportunities of digital transformation.

Digital transformation initiatives in Brazil, such as the Strategy for Digital Transformation (e-Digital) aim to harmonize the initiatives of the Federal Executive branch related to the digital environment and to take full advantage of the potential of digital technologies. Gabriel Souto analyzes how the nation’s current digital transformation initiatives contribute to its performance in the 2022 Network Readiness Index, and how the rapid changes in the economy and society brought on by digital transformation pose new challenges to government action, such as the digitization of public services and digital inclusion. 

Younger generations will have a key role in shaping the future as we move into a new digital era 

Digital natives are influencing significant change and disruption across nearly every industry. Senior Fellow Anil Nair took a deeper look at the digital entrepreneurship phenomenon, from what it really means to be a digital native, to how this generation is changing entrepreneurial culture and who is at risk of falling behind as a result of these changes. 

Senior Fellow Vijay Rai looks at the implications of digitalization and the emergence of hybrid and remote work for young people entering the workforce. He also looks at the issue from the angle of education, which is critical to developing the skills demanded by the changing workplace. Educational institutions must understand these changes, and ensure that the talent they produce is compatible with them. Younger generations are also distinguishing themselves from past generations in terms of their aspirations, expectations and values, which brings significant implications for policymakers, hiring teams, and business leaders.

Young people around the world experience a diversity of digital contexts and outcomes

While the increasing adoption and capability of technology provides a number of benefits and opportunities for younger generations, issues related to infrastructure, access, affordability, and upskilling persist across regions. Portulans Institute’s Fellows shared their own regional perspectives on digital transformation, how it is shaping the lives of youth around the world in different ways, and what can be done to ensure positive outcomes.

Gen Z is revolutionizing the capability of social media platforms to address social challenges

Digital natives’ unique world-view allows them to think about new ways in which technology can be used. Today, this means revolutionizing the capability of social media platforms and the connectivity they enable. Senior Fellow Claudia Fini takes a closer look at this phenomenon through the lens of a growing online community of “digital detectives”. As youth represent the most digitally networked group and are skilled in handling and sharing information, their engagement in true crime can be a powerful asset, helping bring forth new evidence, keeping stories trending, and giving a voice to traditionally silenced or marginalized communities. However, it can also result in the spread of misinformed theories ultimately shared by news media to an even broader public.

Inadequate regulatory standards and the high tariffs remain barriers to ICT access in some regions

In a two-part blog series, Gabriel Souto explores ICT tariff policy as a pathway for socioeconomic development in Brazil, and breaks down how tax competition can be a powerful tool for improving access to ICT products in developing countries. 

Emerging technologies will radically change how we work, live, and play

In his podcast “Future of Humanity”, Anand Anandalingam, Professor of Management Science at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland and Senior Fellow at Portulans Institute, explores how emerging technologies and changes in the economic and political landscape will affect humankind in the next 20 to 50 years. Episodes cover a range of topics from AI to synthetic biology, healthcare, big data, social media, blockchain, and more, with expert guests discussing how these technologies will change how we work and live. 

Our staff and fellows share their insights on developments and trends in technology and innovation that may take shape in 2023, including quantum computing, generative AI, 5G, and e-commerce.  

There’s more to come

Interested in being a part of the Portulans Institute Fellowship program? We are now accepting applications for our 2023-2024 cohort. 

The program offers opportunities for graduate students and young professionals to work on novel research related to human capital, technology, and innovation policies. We encourage applications from individuals in any country who are committed to understanding and advancing the inclusive and sustainable development of societies.

Please visit our Fellowship page to learn more about the program and to access the application. 
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 9, 2023. Contact [email protected] with any questions.