Ask the Experts
Ask the Experts is a new Tech 2025 online learning series that offers a unique twist on learning about emerging technologies. Expert guest speakers participate in live video discussion and analysis on recent hot topics in the news and research on emerging technologies that highlight a particular problem or potential of the technology for us to explore through an interactive Q&A session. Then, we turn the tables and our guest speaker will ask questions of participants to help solve the problem (making you the expert).
Our Guest Expert for this session is Enrique Mendizabal (Founder and Director of On Think Tanks). Enrique and his organization (On Think Tanks), founded in 2010, are leaders in defining and reporting on the global think tank ecosystem. In this session, Enrique will define for us what think tanks are, how they differ from country to country, and how think tanks today are being funded to do research (particularly in the emerging tech space) to impact public policy.
"On Think Tanks was founded in 2010 as a personal blog. I wanted to explore a type of organization that increasingly featured in the literature and in efforts to strengthen policymaking in the developing world. I felt (and still feel) they could play a positive role in supporting evidence informed policy-making. Since, the topic has gained notoriety and interest in think tanks and the wider evidence informed policy-making agenda has increased.
Today, OTT is a global platform dedicated to the study and support of policy research centers. The UK and the US make up about 40% of the visitors to our site. The rest of our readership comes from 160 other countries!" -- Enrique Mendizabal
Shining a Light on Think Tanks
We began doing think tanks here at Tech 2025 in January, 2017. But our think tanks are far more informal (and far less funded) than most think tanks around the world that receive millions of dollars in funding from corporations, governments, and philanthropists, to produce research that influences public policy. Most people have no idea what think tanks are and just how much they impact our lives on a daily basis.
With the emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and cryptocurrency/blockchain dominating our global conversation it's no wonder we're seeing more think tanks launching and more technology research being published by them. And big tech companies are becoming big funders of think tanks (Facebook partners with think tank to fight global election meddling):
"Another seismic shift involves the funding for think tanks. Once they lived on broad grants, from foundations and reticent millionaires. But now, the funders are often wealthy business people — in modern jargon, philanthro-capitalists — notably many from the tech industry." -- Peter Overby (NPR)
We are now beginning to see think tanks being embraced by the next generation as well. Below are several articles on the rise of nextgen think tanks and their changing roles:
- Funding, think tanks and the private sector series (On Think Tanks)
- Who Controls Think Tanks? Shift In Funding Highlights Changes In The Industry (NPR)
- U.S. think tank's tiny lab helps Facebook battle fake social media (Reuters)
- Thinking Is Expensive - Who's Supposed to Pay For It (Freakonomics Radio)
- Global Ad, Tech Execs Launching New Think Tank In Cannes (Forbes)
- Chevy And National Millennial Community Lead Mobile Think-Tanks For Aspiring Entrepreneurs (Forbes)
- Facebook partners with think tank to fight global election meddling: The Atlantic Council is helping the social network tackle false info (Engadget)
- Chinese hackers go after think tanks in wave of more surgical strikes (Ars Technica)
- The Technology Think Tank Everyone Wants To Be A Part Of In 2018 (Forbes)
- How Think Tanks Amplify Corporate Influence (NY Times)
What are think tanks really? How are they impacting the development of emerging tech and tech policies? Why are think tanks so controversial? Why are hackers targeting think tanks so aggressively? And should citizens participate in think tank research and discussions? Enrique will answer questions and show us how we can stay up-to-speed on the important research and news coming out of think tanks around the world.
About Enrique Mendizabal
Enrique Mendizabal (Founder and Director of On Think Tanks) is an independent policy entrepreneur. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Until December 2010 he worked for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) where he headed the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme. At ODI he co-founded the Outcome Mapping Learning Community. Enrique is the co-founder of Politics & Ideas, the Peruvian Alliance for the Use of Evidence, and the Premio PODER al Think Tank Peruano del Año. Since 2016, he organizes an annual Evidence Week in Latin America. Enrique is currently adviser to the Multiparty Commission for the Bicentennial of Peru's Independence at the National Congress.
As Director of On Think Tanks, he leads a team of 14 people working on 5 continents, collaborating on a number of initiatives. He lives in Lima (Peru) but spends quite some time in London and traveling to visit think tanks across the world. He combines this with travel writing. Follow Enrique on Twitter at: @qqmendizabal
About On Think Tanks
On Think Tanks (OTT) is the leading platform on think tanks across the world. OTT is a global platform dedicated to the study and support of policy research centers. On Think Tanks is currently based at Universidad del Pacifico in Peru from where we aim to contribute to the development of the policy research community in the country and region. On Think Tanks works with think tanks, funders and policy entrepreneurs in civil society, government and the private sector to promote the generation, communication and use of evidence in policymaking.