Innovation emergency: Patents and venture capital in the age of Covid

Mario Biagioli (UCLA)

A striking notion of innovation ecology has been recently mobilized by the pharmaceutical companies and venture capital lobbies, one that places significantly greater emphasis on the role of private funding than on the cognitive dimensions of the innovation process. This shift, I argue, reflects a novel and specific temporal framing of innovation based on the claim that pandemics like the one we are currently experiencing require a radically different organization and support of pharmaceutical research. Unless it happens fast enough to control the ecology of the pandemic and suppress its spread, the development of vaccines does not really amount to innovation. Innovation is no longer conceptualized as the delivery of an invention to market, but the delivery of a new powerful weapon system to the battlefield early enough to win the war.