R&D: An emergency brake for coronavirus?
Just a few days before the third deadline for the EIC Accelerator program closed, the European Commission encouraged companies with solutions to fight COVID-19 to present their projects, seeking to boost financing of initiatives that can support the resolution of the current world crisis.
This has been one of the first measures taken by the EU to support the resolution of this international pandemic that threatens to change the world as we know it. It is still early to know the extent of the effects that this crisis will have in the long term, but as an innovation consultant I cannot help but wonder what role we will play in all of this.
Coronavirus: “Chronicle of an announced death”
Let’s start from the beginning, in early 2020, when the world’s news and newspaper channels were already beginning to talk about a mysterious new disease in China. China, a country that is “only” half a day away, sneaked into our day to day through news that seemed foreign and distant to us. However, in a very short time, its echo reverberated and began to be heard closely, with the confirmation of the first cases in Italy, Spain. Soon after it had spread to the rest of the world. Its impact on our society was immediate: in recent weeks, measures of social distancing and even the “state of alarm” have been implemented throughout the five continents, in an attempt to slow down the advance of the virus.
R&D: It’s everywhere!
We are facing an extraordinary circumstance at a global level, which keeps us waiting. We are facing a situation that forces us to a time of reflection and learning. It is time to take action and implement changes. It is time to reflect on the positive reading that should come out of this situation. How can we contribute to the improvement of the situation? What role do research and development play, and why is it a necessary bet? Throughout human history, innovations have been our best allies, so what do we need to ensure their continuity?
The basis for the answers to these questions undoubtedly is education, which should not be neglected despite the eventualities that may arise along the way. A good educational base is the pillar of society, and very much essential regardless of the chosen career path for future generations. A solid foundation encourages creativity and curiosity to act as learning catalyzers, helping to keep the flame of knowledge alive. Furthermore, education is also the key to critical thinking, which in turn helps us to better discern information and face the reality of the world in which we live. This is key to avoid falling into the famous fake news and hoax, among others.
Today, education has returned to homes, together with the parents who try to combine their jobs and the task of supporting teachers to finish this school year. We also find teachers doing their best to stay on schedule, adapt the content, teach online and adjust the needs of the students to the circumstances. Fortunately, being part of an increasingly digital society makes information much more accessible, but it comes with the challenge of turning access to the internet and computer equipment into a basic need. This leads to the fact that digitization is an important innovation for transformation, not only at an educational level, but also in a working environment.
Since last March, many jobs in Spain have been “forced” to an express digitization. For some of us (the luckiest ones), teleworking was already part of the day to day; for others, it was something they longed for but had never had the opportunity to experience. The less fortunate ones thought of it as so unattainable that they had not even considered it. Regardless of which one of the former is your case, what is clear now is the need to give a Copernican turn to the way we thought of our jobs. Flexibility, adaptability and digitization should be common terms for many of the industries and companies in this modern society.
If we return to the main topic of our article and go back to the pandemic caused by COVID-19, it is not a surprise that we can say that “health is everything”. It is an old saying, but it is now more applicable than ever. Our health, given the current situation, can become fragile and highly vulnerable, even when you have been leading a healthy lifestyle. This new invisible enemy has come to make it very clear that what once worked, doesn’t cut it anymore.
The need for new solutions for the preservation of health becomes even more urgent. The importance of R&D s more than evident for the development of new vaccines and treatments, but as we have already seen, innovation will not only happen in the medical field. Technological innovations, for example, will help accelerate the creation of other solutions, which in turn will help to solve this and other future threats of the modern era. This current health crisis reminds us that no contingency plan is truly effective if R&D advances are not taken into consideration.
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned the announcement made by the European Commission within the H2020 program before the last call of the EIC Accelerator Pilot. This was not the only measure by the Commission directly related to R&D. The final dates for the participation of various programs have been extended by at least one week, and new initiatives have also emerged that seek to solve the problem, such as the Hackaton EUvsVirus, which will take place from April 24 to 26.
Specifically, in the last call for the EIC Accelerator, after granting an extension of 48 hours, the final number of proposals received by the Commission was 3,968, a new record of participation, which represents more than double the average number of proposals received in previous calls. Of these 3,968 projects, more than 1,000 are focused on solving the problems caused by the coronavirus.
The high participation in this last call gives some guidance on the way forward for other public and private institutions. Now more than ever, everyone’s support is necessary to mitigate the effects that this crisis is having. It is clear that R&D already plays an essential role in the solution to this pandemic.
At Evolution, we have been dedicated to supporting innovative companies in the search for funding. Now more than ever, we want to give it our all. If you want to evaluate your project’s chances of success, we offer a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you!