Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Billionaire technology and healthcare innovators contribute most to economic recovery, UBS-PwC say

209 billionaires committed $7.2bn between March and June to tackle Covid-19, according to the joint survey

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has praied the work of the UAE in fighting polio in Pakistan. EPA
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has praied the work of the UAE in fighting polio in Pakistan. EPA

Billionaire innovators and disruptors in technology, healthcare and industry sectors are contributing to reshaping the economy at a faster pace than ever before, according to a survey by UBS and PwC.

About 94 per cent of billionaire innovators and disruptors are active in the technology sector and 71 per cent in healthcare. About 54 per cent of billionaires within the industrial sector were identified as innovators and disruptors, while within the consumer and retail sectors 41 per cent were classified as such, according to the survey.

“This is a key moment in economic history. Scientists, computer programmers and engineers are revolutionising industries at a pace never seen before and they are having a profound impact on the whole of the global economy,” said Josef Stadler, head of the global family office unit at UBS Global Wealth Management.

Scientists and serial entrepreneurs ... have the potential to reshape the global economy and create tens, or even hundreds of thousands of new jobs as the world rebuilds after Covid-19

Josef Stadler, UBS

“From AI to 3D printing, from nanotechnology to biotechnology, scientists and serial entrepreneurs are only just beginning to apply and develop radically new products and services that have the potential to reshape the global economy and create tens, or even hundreds of thousands of new jobs as the world rebuilds after Covid-19.”

Of the billionaires analysed in the survey, some 1,542 were found to own or partly own companies that employ over 27.7 million people worldwide, roughly the same as the UK’s working population.

The survey found in addition to the impact billionaires have had through innovation, their philanthropic activities are on the rise, and their generosity is higher than at any time in history.

About 209 billionaires have publicly committed a total of $7.2 billion between March and June 2020 to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, though that is likely to be only a fraction of the overall amount, as per UBS and PwC research.

“Billionaires seemed to have taken the pandemic as a stimulus to reconsider where they stand, what their values are and to re-think their own and their family’s future,” said Marcel Tschanz, head of banking advisory, PwC Switzerland.

“Many … are now laying more focus on securing long-term stability, sustainability and eventually leaving a legacy – for their families, their enterprises and society as a whole.”

On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund said the pandemic-induced economic crisis has made inequality worse because of its disproportionate impact on low-skilled workers, women and young people. This week the World Bank also warned the pandemic may push up to 150 million people into extreme poverty by 2021.

In 2018, 2019 and the first seven months of 2020, billionaire innovators and disruptors saw their wealth increase 17 per cent to $5.3 trillion, while traditional billionaires’ wealth rose 6 per cent to $3.7tn, according to the survey.

Despite the uptick in some people's wealth, the pandemic had a severe impact on the networth of others. The first few weeks in February and March led to a 6.6 per cent decline of wealth to $8tn. The number of individual billionaires fell by 43 to 2,058.

Bucking the trend, the wealth of healthcare industry billionaires climbed 10.2 per cent over the same period. Tech and industrial billionaires grew their wealth 0.8 per cent and 4.8 per cent, respectively. By contrast, materials and real estate billionaires experienced the biggest losses. Their total wealth fell 17.8 per cent and 16.6 per cent, respectively, the report adds.

Updated: October 8, 2020 03:03 PM

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