Taking a whole economy, whole society approach - Policy choices for a digital age

Reflecting the themes of the Net Futures 2017 conference, this closing plenary session will explore what policymakers, industry and citizens can do, starting in 2017, to ensure that by 2027 Europe is better prepared for and engaged with the digital economy and society? 

Taking a ‘whole economy, whole society’ perspective we will discuss how we can plan, prepare and be ready for the digital revolution that is already shaping our lives. 

• What kind of economic models will serve us into the digital future? 
• What do we need to do to ensure education provision can meet the demands of future employment skills that will be required?
• Is business ready for the challenges and opportunities that increasing automation and the internet of things will bring? 
• How can policymakers collaborate better with the private sector to foster entrepreneurship? 
• What can be done to empower citizens to benefit from a digital future?

Panellists will draw on the ideas and recommendations set out in the discussion paper ‘Policy Choices for a Digital Age’, to be launched by leading independent think-tank Friends of Europe on 29 June. For information about Friends of Europe's work on digitalisation please see: www.friendsofeurope.org.

Detailed Outline


opening remarks from Dharmendra Kanani, Moderator


panel debate ‘taking a whole economy, whole society approach – policy choices for a digital age’


Q&A discussion with audience 

Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Strategy, Friends of Europe 


Wrap-up & send-off message – Pearse O'Donohue.


Sébastien Deletaille

CEO and co-founder

Sébastien is the CEO and co-founder of Real Impact Analytics (RIA). He is a rare blend of thinker and doer with a passion for transforming data into action for both business and philanthropic purposes.
Sébastien earned his MSc from Solvay Brussels School (summa cum laude). After graduating, he joined McKinsey & Company and now serves on one of the company’s boards.
RIA was launched in 2009, with the mission to give businesses the ability to mine, analyze and act upon massive inflows of data, easing workers’ daily jobs. Sébastien has facilitated over 100 implementations across Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. He’s also been instrumental in the development of Data for Good, which helps governments and international agencies alleviate poverty, food crises and provide disaster relief.
Under Sébastien’s leadership, RIA has grown to a thriving team of 120+ employees around the world. He was recently selected to be part of the MIT Innovators Under 35 community.

Dharmendra Kanani

Director of Strategy, Friends of Europe

Dharmendra Kanani is Director of Strategy at Friends of Europe. Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Kanani was Director of Policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). Previously, he was the England Director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. He has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and adviser to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.

Michael Mandel

Chief Economic Strategist, Progressive Policy Institute

Dr. Michael Mandel is chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) in Washington, where he supervises PPI’s global research portfolio, focusing mainly on policy measures to stimulate innovation and growth. His research has been cited by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times. His recent Wall Street Journal op-ed was called “Robots Will Save the Economy.”

Before joining PPI, Dr. Mandel was Chief Economist at BusinessWeek, where he was recognized as one of the top 100 business journalists of the 20th century for his work on innovation and growth. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School. Dr. Mandel is the author of four books, including Rational Exuberance: Silencing the Enemies of Growth and Why the Future Is Better Than You Think. His textbook, Economics:The Basics, is in its third edition. Dr. Mandel received a PhD in economics from Harvard University.

Pearse O'Donohue

Director "Future Networks" in DG CONNECT

Pearse O'Donohue is the Head of Unit for Software & Services in Cloud Computing, European Commission (DG CONNECT), where he is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of policy on cloud computing and on software and services.

Until the end of October 2014, Pearse was Deputy Head of Cabinet of Vice-President Neelie Kroes, outgoing European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. He was responsible for advising the Vice-President on the development and implementation of policy on electronic communications, networks and services, as well as broadband, spectrum and other related policies.

Prior to that, Pearse was Head of the Radio Spectrum Policy Unit in the European Commission, DG CONNECT. He was responsible for the development and implementation of policies for efficient spectrum use and a coordinated approach to frequency management in the EU. This also involved the development of spectrum harmonisation measures in the electronic communications field, including the digital dividend, and in other internal market sectors such as transport and research

Pearse O'Donohue began his career in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, following which he was posted to the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU in Brussels. Before joining the European Commission he worked as Assistant Director at the Brussels office of the Irish Business & Employers' Confederation. He was a member of the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Social Affairs and Employment before joining DG INFSO (now DG CONNECT) in 1999. There he held several posts, including as Assistant to the Director-General and as Deputy Head of the Unit responsible for monitoring and enforcing implementation of the EU regulatory framework in electronic communications.

Julie Foulon

Director and Co-Founder of MolenGeek

Julie Foulon is a tireless community builder and tech enthusiast whose name could easily be a synonym for start-ups in Belgium. Among many other things, Foulon is the founder of Girleek, a platform aiming at inspiring and empowering women in the ICT sector, as well as the director and co-founder of MolenGeek, an incubator seeking to open new opportunities and to encourage entrepreneurship in the light of cultural diversity, gender, generation and competence in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek. For her endless efforts and dedication in supporting women in the field of technologies, Foulon has been recently awarded the “Gender Award” by Good Planet.

Caroline Hillegeer

Senior Vice-President of Strategy and Technology Watch at ENGIE

As one of the world’s leading energy companies, ENGIE’s key priorities include decentralising the energy generation, developing the hydrogen sector as well as implementing storage solutions to remedy the intermittence of decentralised energy production and guarantee consumers continuous electricity supply. Within ENGIE Fab, the ENGIE innovation booster, Caroline Hillegeer is developing mass scale, disruptive hydrogen businesses by anticipating and integrating new technologies of tomorrow.