The effects of COVID-19 on startups and the global innovation ecosystem
This article may be a bit different from what we would normally share to begin a new year. For instance, we usually lead off the year with an article or two on innovation that would define our world or a specific sector set for disruption. Since the year 2020 was full of nothing but disruption, our focus – and that of the innovation ecosystem – has changed. When the market disrupted for COVID-19, the innovation ecosystem reacted – we like to think of this time as one of reactive disruption.
Necessity, it was said, is the mother of invention, meaning that when challenges arise, people respond with innovative solutions. The past year was a challenge for the entire world and the driving force behind innovation has changed. Now we are witnessing technology itself create social change, invent new products, and construct ground-breaking services to address the new normal.
Without question, the pandemic has increased the adoption of technology, shifting many businesses away from manual systems of any kind. The transformation of mundane, everyday tasks using automation and technology will only increase as people continue to stay home to work, to be educated, and to socialize. The upsurge in technology adoption at every phase of business will spread across sectors, forcing large businesses, governments, and educational institutions to adapt to today’s way of doing business.
Reactive Technology – AI
Adopted by – videoconferencing, customer service, problem-solving
One of the more popular technologies to rise to the surface during the pandemic is AI or artificial intelligence. Many large companies are reinventing themselves into a human-AI collaborative form, with an Accenture study citing 73% of the companies they surveyed either adopting AI or beginning a test pilot program using the technology.
Already playing a role in finding a vaccine for COVID-19, human-AI collaboration is working in many industries outside the medical field to solve problems, gain insights, and create value. Once predicted to replace human workers, many companies have reacted to the current market by employing AI technology as an assistant for work staff rather than a replacement.
Reactive Technology – Robots
Adopted by – logistics, delivery, safety, and security
This year, we’ve seen robots dispensing sanitizer and testing temperatures before humans are allowed to enter public spaces or board transportation. In 2021, robotics will continue to move away from controlled environments into more mainstream locations. Taking on the responsibility of human safety, the case for robotics will focus on the long-term automated future as well as the short term.
Reactive Technology – IoT
Adopted by – wearable technology, medical systems, entertainment/leisure
Yet another technology to rise to the pandemic’s challenges is the Internet of Things or IoT. Today, we can’t imagine our homes without technology in each room that, in some way, reacts to our needs to make our lives easier. Certainly, the IoT revolution has reshaped modern healthcare systems to be more personalized, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring patients more easily than ever before. Industrial IoT-based solutions are reacting to combat COVID-19 in three key areas including early diagnosis, quarantine timelines, and post-virus recovery.
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As we look ahead to the year 2021, we see only positive opportunities across the entire global innovation ecosystem. We would love to share our perspective with your incubator, accelerator, corporation, government, or university.
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