A supercharged and interactive virtual-reality world is taking shape that will increasingly come to impact our daily lives, or it might just all be a gimmick. We are talking, of course, about the metaverse.
“The metaverse will influence the way, people, governments, companies and society at large think, work, interact and communicate for the purpose of collectively addressing issues on the global agenda.”Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s founder and executive chairman
Ok, there is no simple and agreed definition for summing up what the metaverse is and the label is being thrown around liberally to promote a variety of online products and ideas. Elon Musk has labelled it nothing more than a marketing gimmick – nonetheless huge levels of investment are going into building it.
Well, what we do know is that in rebranding to Meta, Facebook catapulted the concept into the public consciousness.
And earlier this year a new virtual Global Collaboration Village – located in the metaverse – was officially launched at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting Davos, with the goal to be a place where the public and private worlds can come together to explore ways for overcoming the world’s most pressing challenges.
The village is being created by WEF, Accenture and Microsoft, as a virtual world where international organisations, governments and companies can ‘imagine alternative futures’ and ‘envision what the future world could be’.
“While the metaverse is only in its early days, it already holds great promise, not only for redefining how organisations work and interact but also for fostering effective public-private partnerships,” said Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture.
In South Korea, the government has announced plans to invest in that promise through the establishment a ‘world-class metaverse ecosystem’, as part of its digital new deal vision to propel the country towards post-pandemic economic success.
To achieve this South Korea is earmarking hundreds of million of dollars to support projects that will shape this ecosystem. Which includes the establishment of a Metaverse Academy that will ‘intensively train young developers and creators with technical capabilities and arts and humanities skills’ and Metaverse Labs that will ‘promote the development, entrepreneurship, and commercialisation of metaverse-specific technologies’.
South Korea is also committed to funding startups working in the space through a metaverse M&A fund worth $80 million. While a ‘government-wide metaverse committee’ is tasked with ensuring a ‘trustworthy metaverse environment’ is built on ethical foundations.
“We will spare no effort in helping domestic companies, young developers and creators to find new opportunities for growth in the world of digital economy with infinite potential enabled by metaverse, and create a sound metaverse ecosystem,” said Park Yoon-kyu, Deputy Minister of ICT Policy in the South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT.
As the lines between the physical and virtual become increasingly blurred inside the metaverse, gimmick or not, there is clear backing among investment funds and startup initiatives to finance the innovators working to bring this new world to life.