Perhaps like you, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is disrupting my lifestyle. My conferences and trips are cancelled, my kids’ schools and libraries closed, and I dread the long lines at grocery stores. And, I’m not even looking at my investment portfolio at this point.
I guess it all comes down to perspective. I’m an optimistic person and always like to think of the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.
Thanks to technology, I’m going to be able to teach online next week—hoping that my amazing Case Western Reserve University law students are able to read the assignments and participate in the discussion. My kids will also be home with me, and I’m looking forward to that quality time.
Maybe I have an optimism bias, but I see an opportunity for growth and innovation during this time of fear and uncertainty.
President Trump declared a national emergency, meaning the Federal Government can finally cut some of the red tape, and devote the needed resources to help us deal with the current pandemic. At times of crisis, we need to encourage public-private sectors and civil society collaborations.
In 2017, I wrote the article “The Coalition Model: A Private-Public Strategic Innovation Policy Model for Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth in the Era of New Economic Challenges.”
Cut me some slack on the long title—it was part of my dissertation at Cornell Law School.
The idea is that the Trump administration could mitigate some of the problems caused by the pandemic by intervening in the market to promote policies for innovation strategy in the form of public-private partnership initiatives. Perhaps it is time to take a proactive approach to innovation, scientific testing and manufacturing of needed supplies.
Sound like a flyer for an up-and-coming political campaign? Not so fast. Our government agencies have the capacity to fund research, innovation and manufacturing by identifying specific scientific and technological challenges as well as determining the course of the research that can benefit current needs.
Collaborating with audiences in the public sector, research institutions, universities, and private corporations will facilitate productive action towards meeting these needs and advance commercialization efforts.
We should not only be playing defense in a crisis like this. There are several big payoffs for adopting such a proactive policy approach. Here are a few:
- Encouraging future engineers, scientists and innovators to take a risk and become entrepreneurs.
- Providing direct funding to research and development needs.
- Signaling that there are opportunities for private investors to invest in these ventures, and perhaps even serve as some sort of certification.
- Creating a direct pathway for small firms to access government procurement.
- Fostering relationships between professionals in government, industry and academia.
- Increasing awareness in private industry and academia about the benefits of collaborating with the government.
Times are tough right now, and we are all experiencing a disruption. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d even heard the term “social distancing” until a couple weeks ago.
But perhaps a crisis, like this pandemic, is the catalyst for change. When was the last time there was this type of global collaboration? Half of the planet is working together on a vaccine.
So, yes, I’m optimistic. However, not everyone in the US or around the world is fortunate enough to have the financial, technological, social and healthcare resources, or even safe shelter to weather a storm like this.
All the more reason to take this opportunity to help drive innovation and positive changes to help our fellow human beings. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my kiddos, but I’m also thinking about the next big innovation that will come out 2020.
Remember to keep calm, stay safe, and be kind!