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What does COVID-19 mean for the future of health research and innovation? 

COVID-19 is altering—perhaps irreversibly—the health research and innovation ecosystem by compressing into mere weeks structural and system-level adaptations that might otherwise have evolved over a multi-year, or even generational, timescale. 

Do these adaptations represent transient ‘wartime’ improvisation, or do they signal a new mindset that will fundamentally reshape research and innovation in ‘peacetime’?

In our new report, COVID-19 and the Future of Health Research and Innovation, we argue that the pandemic represents an inflection point for the health research and innovation system. There has never been greater recognition that “science is the solution”. Therefore there has never been a more fertile moment to reinvigorate investment in health research and innovation and create the best system possible.

In the report, we explore five specific phenomena to better understand and prepare for the future of our health research and innovation system: 

  1. Data: The COVID-19 crisis has become a data crisis, sparking invention and improvisation across the health data ecosystem and presenting an opportunity to futureproof our data ecosystem and enhance long-term productivity and impact of health research and innovation. 
  2. Regulation: Current regulatory exceptions could become the new standard, as we rethink the way that we assess scientific research to develop, test, and procure health technologies and innovations. 
  3. Co-operation: The challenges in developing, sustaining, and embedding new models of collaboration will require us to re-evaluate how we share risk, reward and recognition.
  4. Democracy: We are at a turning point for science and truth and we must seize this opportunity afforded by a resurgence in the public’s faith in fact to foster accountable, citizen-engaged science.   
  5. Globalization: While our connectivity may have contributed to the pandemic, it will also be fundamental to resolving it, as we must not underestimate the economic and practical advantages that our interconnected innovation systems afford us in terms of resource efficiency, competitiveness and access to medicines.

Learn more about the impact COVID-19 is having on the future of health research and innovation in our report here.