Remarks on Supporting and Fostering Innovation in Indonesia

Charles H. Rivkin
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Jakarta, Indonesia
November 4, 2015

As prepared

Thank you for that introduction. I would like to greet Triawan Munaf, the chairman of Indonesia’s Creative Economy Agency, Sheila Timothy, Chairperson of the Indonesian Producers Association, and Ruben Hattari, Director of Corporate Affairs at Microsoft Indonesia.

All three people come from different corners of what we call the creative economy. This is not the economy of your parents and grandparents, which depended largely on raw materials and traditional manufacturing.

The industries of this economy are focused on creating innovative products and services in fields such as software, film or music. They make semiconductors and other high-technology products. Their raw materials are creativity, knowledge and information. And they are among the most powerful generators of economic growth and jobs today.

Here in Indonesia, some exciting new industries are emerging, such as the movie and music industries; and the Muslim fashion industry, which employs more than three million people. Bandung has become one of the most vibrant technological hubs in the region. People are calling it Indonesia’s Bangalore or Silicon Valley.

Here’s another important factor: In Indonesia, today, one half of the population is under the age of 35.

So you are part of a growing force of future builders, innovators, engineers, investors, businessmen and businesswomen who will write the future and fortune of this country.

This is your economy and you come blessed with two of the most powerful economic resources of the future – your innovation and your youth.

Your innovation will be the central component of your software programs, your movies, your songs, your apps, your video games and your microchips. It will help you build your careers and lift whole economies around you.

Your youth is your ticket to participation. It will give you the will, the energy and the creativity to acquire knowledge, develop skills, build contacts, create innovative partnerships, and find venture capital.

And because you are young, you will also have the time ahead of you – not only to build and expand the economies in which you live, but to benefit from them.

You also have the benefit of the latest in technology, including the internet, which can be such a game changer to help you identify capital, partners, investors and markets, especially here in Indonesia.

This country has one of the highest numbers of Facebook and Twitter users in the world. Internet penetration grew by 17 percent last year, according to one report. And there are now more cell phones than people in Indonesia.

Four years ago, on this very stage, one of Indonesia’s biggest music stars, Agnez Mo, sat with our Ambassador and spoke to the young people in the audience about following their own creative visions. She said: “Dream, believe, and make it happen.”

If your generation is going to continue to dream and make things happen, we all need to work together to protect our creativity.

For example, I read one report which estimated that as much as 95 percent of the music consumed here is pirated.

When we make an illegal download or buy a pirated DVD, we might think it doesn’t make a difference – especially to stars like Agnez Mo or companies like Microsoft.

But when we help ourselves to other people’s creativity for free, we don’t just hurt them. We affect whole chains of people: artists and innovators; the investors who support them; and all those who work in the creative industries, including your own family, your friends, and neighbors.

Eventually, at the consumer end, we pay for those losses – either because people don’t want to make those movies any more, or because we’ll be paying more for less choice.

That’s why we have to build an innovation ecosystem that protects our creative industries.

Fortunately, people are coming together from all walks of life – the public and private sectors – to offer support.

Agnez became an ambassador for intellectual property rights in 2012.

President Jokowi established the Creative Economy Agency, which has identified the eradication of film and music piracy as a top goal. And he appointed Pak Triawan and his colleagues to find ways to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in Indonesia.

This is important to our government as well. Two years ago, under President Obama’s leadership, we launched the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative — YSEALI – to help empower young people like you, to give you more of the skills and resources and networks that you need to turn your ideas into action.

Since then, we’ve offered workshops, online networking, exchanges, professional development, hands-on training. And today, the YSEALI network includes nearly 47,000 young people like you, including more than 5,000 Indonesian members.

We are working to protect you so that you have the freedom – and the protections under the law and the support of investors – to think creatively and boldly.

Above all, as the primary stakeholders in Indonesia’s future, we are hoping you will share the recognition that we all have a responsibility to respect the creativity of others.

When we do that, we can all nurture and safeguard the very creativity on which we are banking so much of our shared prosperity.

Thank you for listening to me. And once again, in the words of Agnez Mo, “Dream, believe, and make it happen.”