An elephant in the glasshouse? Trade-offs between acceleration and transformation in COVID-19 vaccine innovation policies

Linda van de Burgwal, Tom van der Valk, Hannes Kempter, Manuel Gadau, David Stubbs, Wouter Boon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Against the backdrop of a failing vaccine innovation system, innovation policy aimed at creating a COVID-19 vaccine was surprisingly fast and effective. This paper analyzes the influence of the COVID-19 landscape shock and corresponding innovation policy responses on the existing vaccine innovation system. We use document analysis and expert interviews, performed during vaccine development. We find that the sharing of responsibility between public and private actors on various geographical levels, and the focus on accelerating changes in the innovation system were instrumental in achieving fast results. Simultaneously, the acceleration exacerbated existing societal innovation barriers, such as vaccine hesitancy, health inequity, and contested privatization of earnings. Going forward, these innovation barriers may limit the legitimacy of the vaccine innovation system and reduce pandemic preparedness. Next to a focus on acceleration, transformative innovation policies for achieving sustainable pandemic preparedness are still urgently needed. Implications for mission-oriented innovation policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100736
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Volume48
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Accelerator missions
  • Innovation missions
  • Innovation systems
  • Pandemic preparedness
  • Transformative innovation policy
  • Vaccine innovation

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