The Innovation Enigma

Past Event

09 November 2012, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Oxford Union
The Oxford Union, Frewin Court, Oxford, OX1 3JB

The Innovation Enigma - Is the current growth crisis a result of decades of technological stagnation in a risk-averse society?

This is a special event, co-hosted with the Oxford Union. Seating is limited.

Oxford Union members should contact the Oxford Union for information on how to attend. All others, please contact us to be placed on our registration list.

A dynamic debate about innovation and the coming technological deficit.


  • Garry Kasparov, 13th world chess champion, writer and political activist
  • Peter Thiel, technology entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist

In debate against:

  • Professor Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University
  • Mark Shuttleworth, technology entrepreneur and founder of the Ubuntu project

This event is held in collaboration with the Oxford Union, the world’s most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing internationally renowned guests and speakers to Oxford. Founded in 1823, the Union promotes debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

It takes place in the Oxford Union, Frewin Court, Oxford, OX1 3JB

About the speakers

Garry Kasparov came to fame as the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985 at the age of 22. After twenty years as the world’s top-ranked player, Kasparov retired from chess in 2005 to take up the struggle for Russian democracy with his organization the United Civil Front. He continues to be a prominent voice for human rights in Russia and around the world. Kasparov has been a contributing editor to The Wall Street Journal since 1991 and is a popular keynote speaker on decision-making, technology, and leadership. His 2007 book, “How Life Imitates Chess”, has been published in over 20 languages.

Peter Thiel first gained attention for innovations in banking and startup finance. Today, he is known as the mentor of the PayPal mafia of entrepreneurs, as well as for his warnings of a coming technology deficit with severe economic consequences. Through his wide range of support and investments, Thiel works to accelerate innovation to prevent such a crisis by identifying and funding promising technology ideas and by guiding successful companies to scale and dominate their industries. Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal, was the first outside investor in Facebook and, through his private investing and philanthropic giving, continues to help the next generation of tech visionaries.

Professor Kenneth Rogoff is the co-author of “This Time is Different,” a critically acclaimed and highly influential 2009 book on eight centuries of financial crises in over 65 countries. Rogoff’s academic research includes seminal work on exchange rates, central bank independence and sovereign defaults. His monthly syndicated column on global economic issues is published regularly in over 50 countries. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2001-2003, he served as Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. Rogoff was awarded the life title of international grandmaster of chess in 1978.

Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of Ubuntu, a popular free operating system for desktops and servers. The vision for Ubuntu is part social and part economic: free software, available free of charge to everybody on the same terms, and funded through a portfolio of services provided by Canonical Ltd (which was also founded by Shuttleworth). In 2001, he formed the Shuttleworth Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to social innovation which supports educational, free and open source software projects in South Africa. Shuttleworth gained worldwide fame on 25 April 2002 as the second self-funded space tourist and the first-ever African in space.