Denmark blazes digital ambassador trail

When Denmark announced the appointment of a digital ambassador at the end of January this year, it certainly started something

Several other countries are showing more than a little interest in the Danish initiative announced earlier in the year when the foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, revealed his intention to appoint a digital ambassador – a promise he made good on last week.

Late last week, the UK’s Labour Party announced in its manifesto that if it were elected, it would “appoint a digital ambassador to liaise with technology companies to promote Britain as an attractive place for investment and provide support for start-ups to scale up to become world-class digital businesses”.

The English Labour Party and Denmark’s Liberal Alliance might not be the most obvious of bedfellows, but should Jeremy Corbyn upset the odds in June, they’ll both be singing from the same hymn sheet – or should that be smartphone?

“Our digital ambassador will help to ensure businesses are ready to grow and prosper in the digital age,” the manifesto concluded.

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Singapore sling
Singapore, one of the most high-tech-savvy countries in the world, is also aware of the Danish initiative.

In a lecture reported in Singapore Today, Peter Ho, the senior adviser to the Centre for Strategic Futures, said: “Denmark is reported to be creating the position of technology or digital ambassador – that some have dubbed the ‘Silicon Valley Ambassador’ – in order to better engage digital firms such as Apple, Google and Facebook.”

For Ho, the appointment is clearly a bold step into a future in which corporations and countries will become synonymous.

“This is almost as if technology was its own country, unlike the present and certainly the past,” he continued.

“For Singapore, such an approach would build on our earlier efforts to partner other cities and sub-national regions to plug them into international production networks.”

Ireland got there first, perhaps
However, the idea is perhaps not quite so novel after all. Ireland has in fact had a sort of digital ambassador for at least four years.

Film producer David Puttnam has been the country’s ‘national digital champion’ since 2012.

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His role has been to contribute to the development and implementation of the Irish government’s ‘National Digital Strategy’. He has been attempting to raise the profile of national digital objectives.

He has just stepped down from the post, but the Irish Department of Communications said that it will now begin considering who would be best suited to take over the role, so the Irish evidently realise the importance of the post.

Danish ambassador named
Meanwhile, Denmark has now officially named its digital ambassador as Casper Klynge, who is currently the Danish ambassador to Indonesia.

“Technological development and digitalisation is global by nature – and it has an enormous influence on every part of our society,” commented Samuelsen.

“With the digital ambassador taking the leading role, we will seek a closer dialogue with a broad spectrum of actors in the tech sector – companies, research institutes, countries, authorities and organisations.”

The ambassador will be based in Silicon Valley, but will also have a global mandate.

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