Gal Ehrlich,Founder and Managing Director Of the Ehrlich Group

Necessity is the Mother of Invention – How the Covid-19 Pandemic Became a Catalyst for Global Innovation

 (photo credit: EHRLICH GROUP)
(photo credit: EHRLICH GROUP)
 
The severe ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy will be studied extensively. But if there’s anything history has taught us, is that there’s innovation and growth during and following every crisis. Crises force societies, companies and individuals to focus, to be creative, and make something out of nothing, in a way that constitutes a catalyst for global innovation in almost every possible field. During the last year, we are witnessing unique and unprecedented co-operations among scientists, technology experts, industry leaders, venture capital and governments around the world, in response to the emergency the pandemic has brought and to eradicate it in the best possible way, so that humanity can “return” to its course, or as the Americans refer to it – “The New Normal.” No one knows what the post-pandemic world would look like, but it seems there’s international consensus on the fact that the world as we know it is going to change and set new challenges and opportunities for humanity that did not exist up until now. These challenges stress the crucial importance of science, technology, and innovation as decisive factors in the recovery of the global economy.

Throughout 2020, the fields of science, technology, and innovation were quickly drafted to the effort of finding a vaccine for the Worl’s population and medical treatments for those who contracted Covid-19 and became ill. Furthermore, great efforts were made to come up with innovative solutions that will lessen the financial and social costs of the social distancing measures. These efforts led to far-reaching innovation and brought forth futuristic technologies by decades. The social distancing protocols, which were enforced in one way or another in most of the World’s countries, put a strong emphasis on digitization, especially in the workforce. Alongside the changes in how we work and employ people, the pandemic led companies to critically examine their corporate culture, methods of hiring human resources, employee management, etc. – all leading the way to significant economic streamlining. Furthermore, the pandemic led to considerable advancement in online-learning due to the investment in infrastructure that enables students to take an active part in the lesson, without leaving their homes. The skills and innovative means which allow students to prosper in those virtual spaces will be translated to other fields.

The impulse toward innovation is also expressed in the unprecedented speed of developing effective vaccines against Covid-19. In a matter of mere months, several vaccines were developed that have proven effective against the pandemic, while using innovative technology that hasn’t been in widespread use before; compared to the 10 years on average, it normally takes to develop an effective vaccine. In November 2020, about eight months following the outbreak of the global pandemic, over 220 research bodies from around the world announced that the vaccine they developed has an efficacy of 90% against the Covid-19 virus. Innovation also touched upon the method of distributing and vaccinating – an Israeli artificial-learning technology was recently developed to help countries decide which part of the population needs to be vaccinated early and before the rest of the population, and how to do it in the most effective way that will stop the spread of the virus.

Despite the global nature of the pandemic, most of the economic solutions for coming out of this crisis were not universally effective and depend on the local market, the GDP, and the level of damage caused by the pandemic. The efficiency of any economic policy depends in part on the culture in which it operates. However, economists around the world agree that the only way to rehabilitate the global economy is by the transfer of financing to small and medium-sized companies in ways that support innovation. Without this financing and the emphasis on innovation, many companies may not survive the pandemic and the crisis will only worsen. Innovation is both the means and the goal. The economic crisis creates innovation, and with its aid, it will be possible to traverse the global economic crisis in the best possible way.