Insight | May 20, 2020


Part 1

Ron DabbaghCenergim
Invitation Code: MD86588

In this blog series, we offer some of our insights and research on the COVID-19 pandemic and the top 20 emerging trends that will impact the future of innovation. As we have already witnessed Coronavirus pandemic is sending shockwaves through the world economy and is altering the way business is done in unprecedented ways. One of the notable areas that significant change is happening is in the area of innovation. In this blog, we will examine how innovation will be transformed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic as compared to the previous crises.WHAT IS INNOVATION?Before we dive into our discussion we wish to define innovation in the context that will be examined here. By definition, innovation means “introduction of new things and methods”. However, to many this term has become synonymous with the introduction of new technology products as technological innovation have been at the forefront of innovation in the past few decades. For the purposes of our discussion though, we are using the broader definition of innovation in the business context which encompasses introduction of new ways and things ranging from business models to technologies, processes, and business methods based on novel ways of solving the business and technological challenges at hand.HISTORICAL IMPACT OF CRISES ON INNOVATION

Historically, pandemics and crises have acted as catalysts that accelerated change and innovation by providing an environment for launching and testing new ideas, products, and services. Different types of crises ultimately result in economic crises.  An economic crisis forces incumbents to reduce their investment in innovation in the short-term as the resources become more scarce and long-term visibility in the future of markets become more uncertain and harder to predict. As a result, investing in the long-term future becomes riskier. Therefore, innovators focus on the shorter term horizons with the intention of surviving the crisis as their primary goal.

While incumbents and larger companies reduce their innovation investments smaller firms and new entrants invest in innovation and apply the creative destruction process to cause breakthroughs and disruptions and emerge as contenders. As the crisis passes and the economic cycles change new solutions turn into “a new normal” and the larger firms also increase their investments in innovation to catch up with the new contenders. Hence, in the long-term innovation crises always tend to have a positive impact on innovation with more incremental and breakthrough innovations in the short-term and disruptive innovations in the long-term.HOW COVID-19 IS ALREADY IMPACTING INNOVATIONAccording to the World Economic Forum, the Covid-19 pandemic has already accelerated 10 key technology trends:

    • Online Shopping and Robot Deliveries
    • Digital and Contactless Payments
    • Remote Work
    • Distance Learning
    • Telehealth
    • Online Entertainment
    • Supply Chain 4.0
    • 3D Printing
    • Robotics and Drones
    • 5G and Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

What these innovations will have in common is that they solve specific problems that we are facing today as a result of the pandemic. These technologies can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus while helping businesses stay open. While in the short-term these technologies help in solving the issues at hand, in the long-run they tend to build a resilient society and will change the society’s behavior and perception toward how we do business, how we trade, how we work, how we produce goods, how we learn, how we seek medical services and how we entertain ourselves. (Cont’d…)


  • Why Coronavirus Will Stimulate Innovation: Kumar Mehta, Forbes March 9,2020
  • Corporate America must learn to innovate frugally to get through the coronavirus crisis, Navi Radjou, Fast company, March 27, 2020
  • Crisis as Catalyst: The COVID-19 Impact on Innovation, Shomit Ghose, Berkeley engineering, April 21, 2020
  • The impact of the economic crisis on innovation: Evidence from Europe, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 80, Issue 7, September 2013, Pages 1247-1260
  • BARRIERS AND DRIVERS FOR INNOVATION IN TIMES OF CRISIS, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, 08.08. 2016
  • Economic crisis and innovation: is destruction prevailing over accumulation?, CIMR Research Working Paper Series, University of London, Working Paper No. 6
  • Innovation in a Time of Crisis, Larry Clark, Ideas and insights from Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning, March 26, 2020

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Author Bio

Ron is a seasoned marketer, strategist, and entrepreneur with over 25+ years of experience in developing and marketing 20+ innovative technology solutions with a variety of startups and global market leaders. He is also a serial entrepreneur who has a passion for identifying market inefficiencies and building solutions to address them.