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Institutional implications for science and industrial capacity: policy lessons from the UK's pandemic response

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Watkins, Andrew 


Global shortages of critical equipment and supplies induced by COVID-19 forced countries to rapidly build and ramp up their indigenous testing and production capacities. However, the many ways in which institutional and organisational change occurred has not been sufficiently captured. Building domestic capacity requires the leveraging and repurposing of existing domestic scientific and technological capabilities, coupled with intensified global outreach to new and existing partners and suppliers. Using the framework of institutional variety, this paper looks at two facets of the UK’s COVID emergency industrial response: (1) building its laboratory testing capabilities and (2) for increasing production of personal protective equipment; assessing the institutional capacities and relations that were leveraged in this regard. It uses these findings together with observations of “innovation processes under emergency conditions” and the potential uses of a “critical equipment policy” to sharpen some of the recommendations made in the UK’s post-COVID Research and Development Roadmap.



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Science and Public Policy

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Oxford University Press (OUP)

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A small amount of funding was given by the Open University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences back in 2020, where I had visiting status at the time. No formal grant ID was given. I led in the development of the research and now accepted paper -- I am the corresponding author.