Digital economy

United Kingdom-OECD Workshop on Innovation and Policy for Virtual Worlds


How can virtual worlds contribute to innovation, to transformation of business, government and public services and to increasing transparency, improving innovative services delivery, and creating employment?

Should public policy frameworks be adapted to support governments, citizens, and businesses using virtual worlds to improve their performance? If so how?


Meeting Chair:

  • Mr. Richard Simpson (Chair, ICCP Committee),

Opening and introduction to virtual worlds


SpeakerMr. Tom Watson, MP (UK Minister for Digital Engagement) 


Speaker:  Mr. Ren Reynolds (Virtual Policy Network, UK)


Purpose:  This session briefly introduced why virtual worlds are important, and what can they add to society, business, government and consumers, their applications and development trends.   


Panel 1: Innovation in private and public sector application of virtual worlds

Purpose:  How can virtual worlds add value? What do virtual worlds mean in terms of practical applications, how can they contribute to policy making, help businesses to improve performance, and how can they enhance the delivery of, e.g. medical services? This session will explore innovative applications of virtual worlds in both public and private sectors to develop and deliver new services to citizens, the public sector and businesses. Panel contributions will highlight the impacts that virtual worlds can have on: international research, collaboration and policy-making e.g. modelling, simulation, virtualisation, scenario-building and evaluation; improving risk-evaluation; and applications in areas such as health, education, the environment and government services, and in general look at the broader social goods and innovation from wider use of virtual worlds. Also examined will be the benefits virtual worlds may have for business e.g. productivity and employment; reducing costs; addressing environmental concerns; and impacts on networking and engaging consumers and users.  Practical challenges raised by the application of virtual worlds will also be discussed.

Moderator: Bill Graham, Internet Society

Speakers and issues:

  • Mr. Richard Allan, Cisco (How firms use virtual worlds internally to enhance innovation, improve productivity, and reduce costs, and externally to engage customers more effectively)
  • Ms. Jessica Mulligan, ImaginVenture (Virtual worlds as an industry; industry size, business models)
  • Mr. Makoto Yokozawa, Nomura Research Institute, Japan (Applications of virtual worlds in Japan)
  • Mr. Oliver Goh, Shaspa (Virtual worlds, real buildings and sustainability)
  • Mr. Dave Taylor, Imperial College, London (Health applications of virtual worlds; engaging young people on science subjects inside virtual worlds)


Panel 2:  Policy and virtual worlds

Purpose: This second panel highlighted policies and governance practices that can affect the development and use of applications of virtual world for consumers, businesses and governments. Governance of virtual worlds raises many national and international issues, e.g. jurisdictional liability across national borders. However, the size of virtual world communities and value of virtual assets has continued to grow. In a global economic downturn, what are the economic benefits which virtual worlds could usefully provide?  What challenges do their governance models have for consumers, business and governments in areas such as: the development of virtual worlds; intellectual property; privacy; taxation and transactions. What can be done to maximise the economic and social benefits of virtual worlds while addressing such challenges? The panel will seek to identify key public policy issues and challenges which could be further studied by OECD/ICCP and by governments.  

Moderator: Kristiina Pietikainen, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Finland

Speakers and issues:

  • Mr. Chris Francis, IBM (Policy and governance opportunities and challenges in adopting virtual worlds)
  • Ms. Melissa de Zwart, University of South Australia (Intellectual property, content regulation and governance)
  • Mr. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, National University of Singapore (Virtual world governance; virtual worlds as regulatory markets)
  • Mr. Patrice Chazerand, Interactive Software Federation of Europe (Online Business models and governance; self-regulation vs. co-regulation)
  • Ms. Jessica Mulligan, ImaginVenture

Concluding remarks and possible next steps

OECD:  Mr. Richard Simpson    

ICCP Delegates, stakeholder representatives.


For further information, please contact Graham Vickery (graham.vickery @ or Sacha Wunsch-Vincent (sacha.wunsch-vincent @


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